Moving is pretty stressful so most home buyers want a house that is move-in ready. So what does move-in ready really mean? In the strictest sense, a house must have a certificate of occupancy or CO, which is a document issued by a local government agency saying a house is ready to be occupied.
While a CO works for new construction houses, it doesn't assure buyers that a house that's 5, 10 or more years old is move-in ready. Home buyers find it easy to list things they want like town, square feet, number of bedrooms and bathrooms. They may also say they want a house that's “move-in ready” but there's no standard way to measure this.
They want to know a house has been well maintained, and that no major renovations are needed right away. Many new homeowners also want time to get used to their new home before they pick paint colors and window treatments, so they want colors they can live with for a while. But let's dig a little deeper.
What Move-In Ready Means to Buyers
Each homeowner will define their move-in ready requirements different, so here are some guidelines to help you prepare your home for sale. And think about your own move. Do you want to have to paint the entire house, undertake major renovations or worry about replacing the roof?
- Are major systems in good working order? This includes heating, cooling, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical systems?
- Is your home's exterior well maintained and water tight?
- Does your home have attractive landscaping and great curb appeal? It should be well maintained and easy to care for?
- Are your utility bills reasonable, indicating your home uses energy and water efficiently?
- Does your home have adequate lighting from windows and light fixtures?
- Is your kitchen updated with new/newer cabinets, counter tops and appliances?
- Do bathrooms have updated fixtures or features?
- Are your paint colors neutral so almost anyone can live with the colors?
Steps to Get Your House Ready to Sell
The selling process takes time, and when you do things in the right sequence, you will sell your home faster and get the best price possible. So let's review the key steps in getting your house ready to sell, and who can help you with things you aren't comfortable doing yourself. You might also enjoy the tips in this article, 21 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Selling.
- Clean, de-clutter and de-personalize your home so it looks like there's plenty of space for everything buyers own. Hint: Professional organizers and home stagers can help you here.
- Make repairs, both cosmetic and important. You don't want to turn buyers off with peeling paint, and you don't want to haggle over who should make repairs identified during the home inspection. Hint: Your local handyman can get your project list done quickly and efficiently.
- Once repairs are done, have photos taken showing your home's best features, inside and out. Don't forget to update photos seasonally if your home doesn't sell right away. Hint: Make sure you get professional photographs to attract the most buyers to your home.
- Decorate your home so people can see how they'd use each space. Turn your master bathroom into a spa, create a reading nook in the hallway window seat. You don't want clutter but you do want people to see themselves living in your home.
- Make your home as inviting as possible online, from the curb, at the front door and in outdoor living spaces which are becoming more important. Focus on kitchens, bathrooms, closets and lots of storage space, which are key to selling a house.
Spring is when lots of people sell their homes so they can move over the summer school break. We hope these tips help you proactively prepare your home for sale, and see your goals come to pass.