When you’re ready to buy a new house, you’ll discover that there are many decisions to make. One of these decisions involves choosing between a fixer-upper or a move-in ready house. But what is a move-in ready home exactly, and how do you know if it’s right for you?
What Is a Move-In Ready Home?
When you talk about a property that is “move-in ready,” the meaning may change depending on those involved in the conversation. For example, government agencies and lending institutions will refer to move-in ready homes as properties that meet certain standards for safety and health. The home will also have to meet the requirements defined in local building codes. As long as the house meets these conditions, it’s considered move-in ready by those officials. In the real estate industry, the term takes on a different meaning. For real estate agents, sellers, and buyers, move-in ready houses should be in great working order and suitable for immediate occupancy. In other words, the buyer should be able to move into the house without having to take on immediate, or near term, repairs or renovations. In other words, the home’s structure and systems are in excellent condition.
What Features Can You Expect in a Move-In Ready House?
Whether you browse the usual real estate listing sites or conduct a deeper search to find off-market homes, there are certain criteria you should expect the property to meet. Beyond meeting local building codes and basic requirements, all move-in ready homes should be ready for occupancy in the following ways.
Water and Sewage Systems
The plumbing should be ready for use once you move into the house. This means the drains have been professionally cleaned to eliminate blockages. The plumbing pipes should also be free from leaks and corrosion. Faucets should deliver clear and clean water.
The electrical system should have been thoroughly inspected and updated to meet current electrical code standards. This includes ensuring there is at least one outlet in each room in the house. There shouldn’t be an electrical outlet near sources of water, such as sinks, toilets, or showers.
The exterior of a move-in ready house requires special attention. For example, the roof should have shingles that are in good condition and don’t look discolored or loose. There shouldn’t be any signs of a roof leak. The gutters should be secure and have solid connections to ensure proper water flow. They should also be clean to prevent the blockages that debris can cause. For siding, there shouldn’t be loose or ill-fitting siding segments. On a brick home, new pointing should ensure the cohesion and attractive appearance of the mortar.
You’ll find the basic major appliances in a move-in ready house, such as a refrigerator, stove, water heater, dishwasher, and laundry machines. It’s important to note that this equipment may not be the most modern or energy-efficient, so you may choose to upgrade these appliances at some point. However, they should be functional.
Structure and Foundation
When a home has a bad foundation, you’ll see cracks in the basement walls or an uneven basement floor. This will lead to uneven floors throughout the home. You might also see walls separating at the corners or separated door and window frames.
You shouldn’t see any of these issues in a move-in ready property. The foundation, floors, and walls should all be in structurally sound condition.
All of the locks on doors and windows should work and function as intended. Additionally, first-floor windows should have security sensors, and exterior doors should feature double-locking systems. Doors with smart locks should have had their memories cleared, and they should be ready for programming by the new owner.
Move-in ready homes should be ready for immediate use. This means the HVAC system has undergone an inspection and tune-up to ensure efficient operation. The air filter, ducts, and registers should all look clean. You shouldn’t see any signs of a refrigerant leak, pest infestation, or mechanical damage.
The Benefits of Buying a Move-In Ready Home
When you compare the current housing market rates of move-in ready properties against the cost of fixer-upper homes, you’ll find that move-in ready houses cost more on average. While the upfront cost is a little higher, you’ll save considerably more on the upkeep of your new home, especially during the first few years of ownership. You’ll also discover a variety of benefits.
Meet Important Deadlines
When buying a new home, you’ll try to plan the closing to coincide with the end of a lease or the sale of your previous house. This can become a challenge when you buy a fixer-upper since certain types of repairs might prevent you from moving in right away. A move-in ready home will help you meet those important deadlines.
Protect Your Mental Health
Buying a new home can be one of the most stressful life changes you make. This is primarily due to the unexpected costs that come with home ownership. Your new home might need a new water heater, roof repairs, or other types of maintenance.
You’ll save yourself the stress of worrying about those hidden expenses when you choose a house that’s move-in ready.
Enjoy Peace of Mind
When you opt for a move-in ready home, you can spend more time searching for homes with features you love instead of determining whether a home has the basics already taken care of, like a dependable roof. Focusing your home search on properties that meet higher standards in these areas will give you confidence in buying your home. You’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing your new property is a solid and durable structure.
Take Advantage of the Extra Time to Save
One of the advantages of move-in ready houses is that you can expect a period of up to 10 years before you face any significant home maintenance costs. This gives you several years to build up an emergency savings fund for future expenses. By anticipating the first home features that will need repairs or replacing, you can even estimate how much money you’ll need to save during that first decade. This can spare you from having to borrow money to cover those expenses.
Get Back to Your Normal Routine
Buying a house and moving into your new home is a process that can upset your family’s lives for weeks or months. Once you move into your new house, undertaking renovations or repairs can keep your household in a state of chaos for a longer period of time. But when you take ownership of a move-in ready house, you can focus on unpacking your belongings and getting back to your normal routines more quickly.
Is Move-In Ready Right for You?
A move-in ready house offers plenty of advantages by ensuring the house is in good condition before you set foot in it. Choosing a move-in ready home can save you money in the long run since there won’t be a need for immediate repairs or renovations.
Ultimately, whether a move-in ready home is right for you comes down to your needs and preferences. If you want the opportunity to remodel your new home to match your unique style, a fixer-upper might be the right fit. But if you’re looking for a low-stress experience and a quick return to your daily routine, a move-in ready home can be ideal.