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Move-in-Ready or Fixer-Upper? Here’s How to Tell the Difference

by Contributing Author

Most sellers know that “move-in-ready” is an important selling point. In essence, it means you can arrive, unpack, and get on with the business of living without having to undertake any major repairs to the building. However, there are plenty of people who think that making an interior look good is all that they need to advertise their homes as desirable residences. A bit of staging, a lick of fresh paint, and some new, but cheap kitchen countertops can make a world of difference to first impressions – but they don’t necessarily mean the home really is “move-in-ready” as advertised. There are plenty of excellent USA homes for sale, so make sure that what you’re viewing fits the bill.

Beware the Bought-to-Flip

When viewing a house that’s clearly been revamped prior to being marketed, it may be worth finding out how long the current owner has had the house and whether they lived in it themselves. Inspired by reality TV, a lot of people are buying to resell at a profit. As a business venture of sorts, the less they do to raise the property’s value, the greater the profit, and that could imply coverups of some pretty serious issues. It’s not always a matter of cheating. Some people really believe that “renovation” just means making things look nice for now.

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Do Some Basic Functional Checks Yourself

Open and close doors. A latch that won’t retract may just mean a simple fix, but it could also mean that there’s subsidence and the building’s foundation is unstable. Open and close taps and check under sinks. Basic plumbing problems could be a sign of worse issues with the parts of the plumbing system you can’t see.

Check the Crawlspace

Checking the crawlspace can be a revelation. It’s here where you can get an idea of how sound the roof is. And, since most people won’t bother to paint up here, you might spot mold, rot, warping and other issues that point towards a need for re-roofing. Find out how old the roof is if you’re looking at an old house. A roof can last a good few decades, but a roof older than 25 to 30 years could give you trouble in the near future.

Peep Under Rugs in High-Traffic Areas

Rugs in high-traffic areas could be a coverup for worn floors. Of course, you might decide to live with that and just hide the bad spots once you’ve moved in, but it could also be grounds to negotiate a lower price or even walk away from the deal. It’s certainly cause to be suspicious of a “move-in-ready” designation. Theoretically, you could move in and live with those floors, but coverups are never a good sign.

Like It? Get a Home Inspection

You’re considering a specific house and you’re really happy with what you’ve seen so far, but the only way to be reasonably sure of structural soundness is to ask for a building inspection. Some homeowners will have this done prior to selling and will be able to show you reports, but if they haven’t, it’s worth getting one yourself. Knowing whether you’re buying a fixer-upper allows you to go in with eyes wide open – and if you don’t fancy having to do major work before moving in, you can strike a home needing major repairs off your list of possibilities.

Buying a house can be a minefield, and suing if you discover a move-in-ready home was actually in need of repair can be difficult since you must prove that the seller knew about the issue. Never sign on the dotted line before you know what you’re letting yourself in for!



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