Many buyers hear or read the term move-in ready and make assumptions. Unfortunately, those words have no legal meaning and what it ends up meaning can vary a lot. Read on for some considerations to help you define what move-in ready means to you in your home search.

Common Ways to Define Move-in Ready

In general, a home that is move-in ready might be one ready for occupancy with no need for repairs. All the major (plumbing, electric, etc) systems work as they should, there are no broken windows or a leaking roof, etc. This is only one way to describe move-in ready but it's often the same one used by lenders. Some government-backed lenders require a home to have flooring, certain kitchen appliances, screens on all the windows, and other things before financing can be approved.

That being said, the term move-in ready has changed a bit in recent times from that to something else. Now, some buyers want the above to be true but they also want a new kitchen, a spa shower, and more. In other words, they want the home to be redecorated and updated to reflect their taste and wishes. Naturally, those two ways of defining move-in ready are pretty far apart.

Major Move-in Issues and Cosmetic Problems

In most cases, buyers with realistic expectations want a home that is structurally sound and where everything or most things work as they should. Even fairly new homes will have things wrong with them so it's vital to have a professional home inspection performed after your offer is accepted. The information gleaned from the inspection will inform you on just how move-in ready your home really is. If major work has to be performed before you can move in, you might need to ask for some repairs to be done and paid for by the seller. Some major, and, therefore expensive repair issues such as the ones below might end up postponing your closing for several weeks or even months:

  • The HVAC is not working
  • There is rotting wood supporting the front porch
  • The basement is flooding with each rainstorm
  • Termites have invaded the structure and the damage is considerable

 You have the option to walk away and get your deposit back if you run into these issues. Cosmetic issues, however, are another thing. It's difficult enough to find a home that is suitable, in a good area, and that you can afford without holding things up because you hate the paint colors or the kitchen cabinets. Even buyers with little time could move into a home with cosmetic issues and take care of them when there is time and money to do so. In the meantime, the home may be livable if not lovely.

To learn more about what makes a home move-in ready, speak to your real estate agent. They can direct you toward various homes for sale.