How to Tell if A Home Is ‘move-In’ Ready

If you’re home shopping, you’ve probably seen or heard the phrase “move-in ready” in the property description. But what does “move-in ready” really mean and how can you tell if a property that “shows well” is truly ready for your family to move in and why does it matter? Typically speaking, real estate agents refer to a home as “move-in” ready if they don’t anticipate any significant repairs.

There are two essential things to keep in mind.

The first is that while the real estate agent may not expect any major repairs, that does not mean that there isn’t any. Always get a home inspection! The other is that there may be upgrades that you want to make before you move in, but that doesn’t mean that the home isn’t “move-in ready.” So even if the kitchen cabinets are dated and the linoleum flooring isn’t your preference, if it’s in good condition, it’s considered move-in ready.

Now that we’ve gone over the disclaimers let’s delve into what should expect from a move-in ready property.

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1. Solid Electrical and Plumbing

All of the electrical work should be up to date, including new electrical outlets and switches. Yes, even the plate switch covers should be newer. If you see light switches or outlet covers with old chipping paint, it could pose an electrical hazard. When it comes to the plumbing, you’ll want to look under the cabinets to look for leaks, rust, warped wood, or discoloration that may indicate rotted wood. And don’t just look! Turn on the faucet and get down on your hands and knees and feel around for moisture. Are you sensing a strong smell of mold or mildew? That may mean major repairs ahead.

2. Roof, Windows, and Siding in Good Condition

In regards to the roof, you’ll want to consider the age as well as it’s the current condition. A roof that’s thirty years old may not be leaking now, but chances are pretty high that it will leak this rainy season. In this case, an older roof in good condition is not considered move-in ready. Siding and window frames that are warped lifted, or discolored are strong indicators that water damage has already occurred. And remember that this sort of damage isn’t just about replacing the warped siding. Warped siding could mean mold damage that would require removal and repair of large sections of the house.

3. Heating and Cooling –All Systems Go

The water heater, furnace, and HVAC system should all be less than two years old with no issues during that time. You may also want to ask the current owner if these items are under warranty and for how long. If they’re less than two years old, you still have some time before you’ll need to worry about malfunctions. But having warranty info adds to that assurance that the property is move-in ready.

4. Kitchen Functioning Well

The kitchen’s layout and appearance are often a big selling point, but when looking at it in terms of “move-in” ready, it’s more about function, not cosmetic. Drawers lined with polka-dot contact paper may not be your style, but it doesn’t discount the home as being move-in ready. Same goes for the 70’s style built-in oven –if it’s in sold working order, it’s a green light for move-in ready.

5. Bathrooms Looking Good

Anything that prevents regular, such as a toilet that doesn’t flush right, a leaking faucet, or shower with low water pressure, are reasons to question move-in readiness. Mildew is often an issue in the bathroom. However, extensive staining from it could mean inadequate ventilation and possible structural damage — not move-in ready.

6. Flooring is Neat and Clean

Whether tile, vinyl, carpeting, or hardwood, the floors should all be in excellent shape. Stains from spills, surface scratches, scuff marks, and other small cosmetic damage are okay. However, lifted tiles, buckling, and carpet that is dingey means that the home is not in move-in condition.

A home in need of additional repairs is not necessarily a bad thing! Actually, it gives you some wiggle room for negotiating the price down. And remember that you’re not in this “home shopping adventure” alone. Your real estate agent can help you negotiate. Your home inspector will help identify potential problems. And your mortgage professional will help you get the funding you need to purchase (and possibly repair) your new home. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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