The issue here is not whether or not it is counter-intuitive â€“ it is all based upon the contract. Section 3. B. of the standard C.A.R. California Residential Purchase Agreement states exactly when you can expect to get occupancy of your new home. As an example, if the time shown for delivery of the property to you is 2:00 p.m., then a seller occupying the home does not need to vacate the home until 1:59 p.m. and 59 seconds. Moving the closing date will more than likely not change this â€“ the seller has a right to stay put until the very end.
Fact is, the closer you get to moving day the more difficult it actually may be to properly view your new home. Most sellers have large numbers of boxes, etc. stacked all over the place making it very difficult to properly assess the condition of the home.
Asking for a deposit in the event damage occurs is not normal practice. It would have to be spelled out in the offer right up front, and most sellers would probably counter it out of the contract. Remember that the primary purpose of the walkthrough is to verify that repairs have been completed as per the contract and to observe whether or not the home is in the same condition as when you wrote your offer.
If, upon moving in, you notice things that are in violation of the contract, you have a couple of options. Have your REALTOR immediately contact the other side for an explanation and a remedy. If a solution is not forthcoming in a timely fashion, you have binding arbitration and small claims court to fall back on. In addition, if you used a REALTOR who has done a large number of transactions in the area, their market presence and connections may be a tremendous advantage in leveraging a satisfactory response.
The final walk through, per most purchase contracts, is not a condition of closing and I actually know buyers who choose not to do that final walkthrough.
I would not fret too much over this. Most sellers are good people and will leave the house in very good condition. And, unless the condition of the home has deteriorated significantly during the course of the escrow period, there is probably no need to worry. Additionally, unless you wrote it into the purchase contract, it is probably too late the change the terms of the agreement and require some sort of security deposit. Discuss this with your realtor if you are truly concerned and see if she can negotiate something with the seller's agent.
I don't know what's the norm in Fremont. My inclination would be along the lines of your question: Escrow an amount of money to address damages or missing items.
As far as cleaning, that's likely to be the least of your concerns. Sometimes sellers are really great about leaving the house nice and spotless. Other times, they're not. You really need to anticipate that you'll have to do some cleaning once they're out of there. Or, for a few hundred dollars, get a cleaning crew in there and let them handle it for you.
Hope that helps.