ONETIME- Walk-through: Make sure the tenant's really gone
One time, when I bought my very first house, I wasn't an agent, and I didn't know anything about a walk-through or anything. And I went and signed all the papers and I bought it from the listing agent, bought it from the woman whose sign was in the yard, because I figured that was just what you did. There was no buyer brokerage in those days.
The movers came a couple of days later and packed everything up and I put the key in the new house's door and walked in, and the guy had not moved out yet.
I said, "Excuse me, I'm pretty sure you're in my house."
He said, "Well, I'm not moving. The real estate agent was my girlfriend, and apparently she only did this deal to get the commission, and then she broke up with me right away. So I'm not leaving."
I said, "W-e-e-llll, I don't think it really works like that..." It took about thirty days to straighten that out.
It's always good to drop by the house right before you go to close on it to make sure that things are going smoothly.
Miscommunication causes lots of drama. I have gone to open houses and found colleagues of mine dead asleep. I have caught innumerable people in the shower– just homeowners who were home and didn't take the lock box in or something. Most of the showing instructions when we go out to show properties are "Call, then use the lock box." So we call and almost always get a voicemail and say, "Hey, we're coming by around 1 o'clock," and maybe they picked it up or maybe they didn't.
Unfortunately, most humans learn things the hard way– they're the best lessons. It's not an exact science, the real estate business. There's some art to it, clearly psychology to it, there's communication to it. Every year, the National Association of Realtors does a poll of about 1,000 people that have bought a house that year and they ask them about their experiences with the realtor. And the number one complaint every single year is "My real estate agent didn't communicate with me as much as I would have liked."
But as a home buyer, the first and best thing that you can do for your realtor is tell them the truth.