Molly Grace4-minute read
UPDATED: March 21, 2023
Fixer-uppers have enjoyed a lot of time in the spotlight for several years now. But these DIY-heavy homes aren’t for everyone.
Buying a move-in ready home might not be as trendy or exciting a prospect as working on a fixer-upper, but there’s a reason so many buyers prefer them over properties that need more TLC: they’re easy.
What should those going through the home buying process know about move-in ready homes?
What’s a move-in ready home? It depends on who you ask.
At a minimum, a move-in ready home is one that is structurally sound and up to code. All its major systems are in working order and it’s not in need of any huge repairs.
When you see a listing that includes the phrase “move-in ready,” you can, at the very least, expect the home to be livable. You’ll have a sturdy roof over your head, intact windows, running water and working electricity, heating, plumbing and other utilities.
Beyond that, “move-in ready” may or may not mean a whole lot more. It just depends on what the person who wrote the listing wanted to convey.
A move-in ready home might be updated with all new appliances and trendy design features. Or, the term might include homes that are fully habitable but have an interior right out of the 1970s, down to the bright orange shag carpeting.
Basically, if a home is ready to be safely occupied as soon as you close and get the keys, it’s move-in ready – even if it still needs a few cosmetic changes for you to feel truly ready to move in.
Why might a buyer prefer a new move-in ready home over building their own house or purchasing a fixer-upper?
Here are some of the main benefits of purchasing a move-in ready home.
The term “move-in ready home” is self-explanatory. Once you get the keys, you can move right in. If you need to move into your home ASAP, this is a huge plus.
Compare this to a fixer-upper, where closing on the home is just the beginning. Before you can move in, you’ll need to set a budget and determine what work you can complete yourself versus what you’ll need to hire contractors to do (some things, like electrical work, are best left to the professionals). Then you’ll need to spend a lot of your weekends pouring your blood, sweat and tears into your brand-new home.
Home improvement (and moving in general) isn’t for the faint of heart. If you aren’t up for the physical challenge of renovating and repairing a home – or the mental challenge of coordinating contractors – you’re better off looking for a house that’s habitable and suits your needs as-is.
Though you’ll pay more to purchase a move-in ready home than you will for a fixer-upper, your upfront costs end there (though you will, of course, incur the regular maintenance and repair costs that come with being a homeowner). But renovation costs and upgrades on a fixer-upper can add up fast.
Though people often save money when they purchase a fixer-upper rather than a move-in ready home, they typically do this by performing a lot of the work themselves. If you aren’t up for the challenge, or if the house you’re purchasing needs a lot of expensive repairs, it’s possible to spend as much or more than you would’ve on a move-in ready house.
Move-in ready homes are less time-consuming; you won’t spend your evenings and weekends replacing flooring or getting quotes from contractors.
Here are some potential disadvantages that you might encounter buying a move-in ready home.
This can be both a pro and a con, but if you have a specific mental image of what you want your next home to look like, you might end up disappointed if your local housing stock doesn’t include your dream home.
When you buy a fixer-upper or build your own home, you call the shots on your home’s style, interior design scheme, square footage and even location. With a move-in ready home, you’ll likely have to make at least a few compromises.
It might be habitable, but if the home you want to buy isn’t up to your functionality standards, you might not consider it completely move-in ready until everything from appliances to floors and windows are as functional as you’d like them to be.
As you evaluate homes, it’s important to not just consider whether it’s move-in ready, but how much work it’ll take to make the interior really feel like your perfect home. “Habitable” doesn’t always mean “new” and “functioning,” so considering the work it will take to reach that point should be in the front of your mind.
You can start your house hunt by searching online for homes or working with your real estate agent to identify homes in the area that meet your needs.
Be sure to read the listing descriptions, and watch out for terms like “fixer-upper” or “TLC.” The listing may specifically note that the home is move-in ready or boast about recent upgrades and improvements that were done.
All landlords have a responsibility to provide their tenants with a habitable space. So if you’re looking to rent rather than buy, a legal rental home will meet the basic definition of “move-in ready.”
Move-in ready homes are convenient and easier to get into than a home you must build or repair first. But for those who want to have complete control over what their space looks like, they might not be the best option. As you weigh the choice between move-in ready versus fixer-upper or custom-built home, consider your needs, your budget and how much time you’re willing to spend getting into – or creating – the home of your dreams.
If you’re ready to get started on your home buying journey, connect with one of Rocket Homes® Verified Partner Agents.
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