Should I Buy A Move-In Ready Home?

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Move-in ready is a legal phrase to describe homes that meet local municipal requirements for habitability.

Move-in ready homes exhibit three general traits:

  1. Structurally sound and safe
  2. Plumbing, electricity, and windows and doors are operable
  3. Free from pests and infestations

The legal definition of move-in ready differs from its practical definition.

To a first-time home buyer, a “move-in ready house” is a house that needs no repairs or renovations. Buyers also refer to move-in ready homes as turnkey homes or plug-and-play homes.

Move-in ready homes are the opposite of fixer-upper homes.

This helpful article explains the legal and practical definitions of move-in ready homes. It includes a flowchart to help you choose whether buying a move-in-ready home makes sense.

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What Is a Move-In Ready Home?

The legal definition of a move-in ready home is a home that’s suitable for immediate occupancy and meets the local government’s safety, health, and building codes standards.

However, in real estate marketing, the phrase “move-in ready” indicates buyers can purchase a home and move in without repairs, maintenance, or improvement.

Examples of move-in ready homes include newly-built homes and restored homes.

Buyers of a move-in ready home can expect the home’s major systems to be functional and certified by a licensed home inspector, including electrical, plumbing, and HVAC, and for its structure to be sound. Move-in ready homes have no known hazards and no building code violations.

A move-in ready home will be in perfect working order – even if its paint colors fail to match your style or its kitchen appliances are out-of-date.

Move-in ready homes are popular because buyers can get their keys and move in on the same day. They’re also eligible for purchase in combination with the best loans for first-time buyers, including all conventional, FHA, VA, and USDA loans.

Buying a turnkey home reduces stress and lowers the cost of buying your first home. 

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Why Buy A Move-In Ready Home?

Buying a move-in ready home can be more convenient and let you settle into your new home faster than buying other home types, such as fixer-uppers and new construction.

Time savings

Move-in ready homes don’t require significant repairs or upgrades, so first-time buyers can take occupancy immediately after closing. They’re popular with buyers on time-related deadlines or who need a quick relocation, including people who want to break their leasesmove out of their parents’ house, or buy a house out of state.

Less stress

Buying a move-in ready home removes the stress of making home repairs and living amidst home construction. Buyers of turnkey homes can settle in and decorate immediately instead of planning around construction and coordinating daily with contractors and laborers.

Predictable costs

Move-in ready homes often sell for higher prices than comparable fixer-upper homes and homes that need repair, but with a move-in ready home, there are no unexpected renovation costs. It’s easier for home buyers to stay within their budget when they buy a move-in ready home.

Peace of mind

Knowing your new home is safe, structurally sound, and compliant with local building codes is a comfort. Move-in ready homes provide emotional and financial security that fixer-uppers and as-is homes cannot.

Less maintenance

In a move-in ready home, every system, finish, and appliance is fixed or new and signed off by a licensed home inspector. Therefore, buyers can expect their homes to require less maintenance in the first ten years of homeownership compared to other homes, which makes homeownership more affordable and lowers financial stress.

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The 8 Features of a Move-In Ready Home

When you buy a move-in ready home, you’re buying peace of mind that your new home is safe, secure, and structurally sound. 

Move-in ready homes meet the following eight standards.

Working plumbing and pipes

Running water is a top priority for any home. The drains of a move-in ready home will be clean and clear of blockages, and faucets will provide clean water.

Modern electrical outlets and wiring

Move-in ready homes meet the national electrical code. Every kitchen, bedroom, living space, and family room will have a working electrical outlet. Outlets will be spaced according to electrical standards and not near running water.

Leak-proof roof & exterior

The roof of a move-in ready home will be free from major and minor damage, including leaks, loose shingles, and discoloration. In addition, gutters and drainage systems will be intact. The home’s interior will show no evidence of water damage from failed roofing.

For homes with siding, all siding pieces will be structurally sound. For brick homes, all tuckpointing will be up-to-date and complete.

Major appliances included

Move-in ready homes will include refrigerators, freezers, stoves, laundry machines, heating and cooling systems, and dishwashers. Appliances are not required to meet energy-efficiency standards and may be near their replacement age.

Flooring and walls are level and flat

The floors of a move-in ready home will be level, and its walls will be even. There will be no apparent holes, water stains, or physical warping. Moldings around doors and windows will be aligned. Doors and windows will open and close as expected. There will be no gaps between ceilings and walls and floors.

Windows and door locks operate

The windows and doors of a move-in ready home will have secure locking mechanisms. Single- and double-pane windows will lock from inside the house, and first-floor windows will have security sensors. Exterior doors will have functioning double-locking mechanisms. System memory has been wiped before move-in for homes with biometric key systems.

Heating and cooling systems are tuned

In a move-in ready home, heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) systems will have new filters, clean vents, and working fan belts. Refrigerants will be at acceptable levels, and there will be no evidence of pest infestation.

The home is habitable

A move-in ready home will have a certificate of occupancy and adhere to the local building codes. 

The 5 Types Of Move-In Ready Homes

“Move-in ready” is a term for homes that are immediately livable after purchase. 

To be considered move-in ready, a home must be safe, structurally sound, and compliant with local building codes. Move-in ready homes come in various styles and can be any size or age.

Here are five types of “move-in ready” homes.

New construction homes

New construction homes are brand-new homes, often in planned communities, with no prior residents. They’re built by general contractors, independent homebuilders, and homebuilder companies. 

New construction homes tend to feature the latest design trends and technology and are energy-efficient. They’re up-to-date with current building codes and built to last. 

New construction homes can be customized, too. Builders and buyers collaborate to select layouts, finishes, and flooring so every new home is built to specification and the buyer’s precise wants.

New construction homes can take up to a year to build.

What’s the cheapest home to build? Find out here.

Model homes

Model homes are homes built by home-building companies in their new housing developments to show off their work. 

Builders furnish and decorate model homes to impress potential buyers. Model units have fancy upgrades such as high-end appliances, top-of-the-line finishes, and designer light fixtures. They showcase the best of what builders can build.

When you buy a model home from a builder, you get a move-in ready home with all the upgrades – often at a discount to a comparable home’s listing price. 

Renovated homes

Renovated homes are homes that are updated and improved for resale. 

Renovated homes may feature a new kitchen or bathroom, a new roof or updated flooring, and other modern features not present in the older housing stock.

Renovated homes are often outfitted with energy-efficient features, too, including double-pane windows and high-efficiency furnaces and air conditioners.

Many renovated homes are move-in ready. 

Flipped homes

A “flipped home” is a home that’s purchased, renovated quickly, then resold as a move-in ready property. 

Move-in-ready flipped homes may feature new plumbing and electrical systems, landscaping and gutters, and finishes. Flippers may also remediate flipped homes for mold and pest infestations. Flipped homes are safe, structurally sound like other move-in-ready homes, and follow local building codes.

As with all home purchases, first-time buyers should inspect a flipped home at an open house and with a home inspector. Many home flippers use quality materials and sound renovation techniques, but some will not. A licensed home inspector will uncover potential problems and protect your housing investment.

Condominiums and townhomes

Not all condominiums and townhomes are move-in ready. However, because a condo’s Homeowners Association (HOA) maintains its common areas and exteriors, including roofing, walls, and windows, a well-maintained condo unit can be nearly move-in ready.

Read more about condominiums here.

Which Should I Buy: New Construction, Move-In Ready, or Fixer-Upper?

Flowchart: What Kind Of Home Is Right For You?

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