What Does ‘Move-in Ready’ Mean? 7 Characteristics You Should Expect to See

During a home search, you’ll probably hear the phrase “move-in ready” used to describe a property. But what does move-in ready really mean?

At the minimum, a home marked move-in ready should be livable without any anticipated repairs.

“A move-in ready home should not require anything that would prevent a buyer from occupying the home immediately without a to-do list,” says Jennifer Okhovat, a real estate agent at Compass in Los Angeles.

However, some home buyers might incorrectly assume “move-in ready” means “updated” or “brand-new.” But move-in ready “can be used to describe a property in almost any condition, from extremely dated to completely renovated,” says Tory Keith, president of Board and Park, in Natick, MA.

So even if that Tuscan wine-themed backsplash in the kitchen is giving you nightmares, it doesn’t mean the home is unable to be lived in.

So what types of amenities can you expect to find in a move-in ready home? Let’s take a look.

1. Electrical and plumbing

In a move-in ready home, all of the electrical work needs to be up to date and the electrical outlets and switches should be modern.

“A home with old outlets and switches with 30 years of paint on them can be viewed as a hazard and not move-in ready,” says Karen Kostiw, a real estate agent at Warburg Realty in New York. “The fear would be that things won’t work properly—or worse, there could be a fire.”

The plumbing should also be in good condition.

“I recommend getting your hands dirty when you’re touring a home—open cabinets, turn on faucets, look for any signs of leaks,” says Greg Stewart, chief operating officer at Bungalo.

2. Roof, windows, and siding

To be considered move-in ready, the roof should have a substantial life span remaining.

“A home that has a 40-year-old roof may not be leaking today, but it can at any moment, and therefore would not be considered move-in ready for most buyers,” says Kostiw.

If a home has warped or damaged siding, it should be replaced. The same goes for old windows that may be rotting or allowing water into the house.

3. Heating and cooling systems

The water heater, furnace, and HVAC system should also be in good working order.

“If these items need to be replaced within a year or two, even though they are working now, many prospective buyers do not consider the home to be move-in ready,” says Kostiw.

4. Kitchen

Shiny new appliances and marble countertops are not requirements in a move-in ready kitchen. Functionality is the key.

“It should simply come with working appliances and functioning faucets, lighting, and outlets,” Kostiw says.

Cabinets or countertops in need of cosmetic enhancements might turn off buyers, but they won’t prevent someone from living there.

5. Bathrooms

The condition of the bathrooms can make or break a potential buyer’s opinion of the whole house. However, to be move-in ready, bathrooms must be clean with working plumbing and unclogged drains. Anything that would prevent normal use (e.g., a toilet that doesn’t flush properly, a drain that leaks, or a shower that has low water pressure) would not be acceptable.

6. Flooring

Across the board, hardwood floors are favorable among buyers, and as long as the hardwood is clean and free of warping or buckling, it’s considered move-in ready. The same goes for carpeted floors.

“Rooms with a carpet should be relatively new and clean of any dirt or damage,” Kostiw says.

7. Paint

Walking into a room painted lime green might repel the average buyer, but an outlandish paint job won’t prohibit you from living there.

“The home doesn’t need to be freshly painted,” says Tracey Hampson at Realty One Group in Valencia, CA. “If there are no marks or chips in the paint and the color is neutral, then it’s sufficient.”

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