When you see a home for sale marketed as “move-in ready,” the first inclination is to believe, well, that you can move right in.
Generally, the term is used to describe homes that don’t need any work to be inhabitable. In other words, you don’t need to replace floor coverings, countertops, light fixtures or appliances. But it’s rare that buyers of a home simply move right in.
There’s almost always some effort involved in making a home that was someone else’s your own. It might not involve major projects, but no home that one owner turns over to another goes without some change. And some of that change can cost the new owner money. Here are three hidden home-buying costs to expect even when buying a home that’s “move-in ready.”
About 80 percent of home buyers are first-time or “move up” buyers, meaning that 8 of 10 homes sold are going to people who are buying their first home or who are buying a bigger and/or nicer home. That means those buyers are likely going to require more furnishings than they currently own.
If you move from a 900-square-foot apartment into a 1,800-square-foot home, you have twice the space to fill. If you’ve never had a formal dining room and buy a house with one, guess what: You now need a dining set. If you buy a home with a finished basement, you’ll need to outfit that, even if you don’t currently have the furnishings to do it.
Even if you DO have furniture you’re happy with, you could move it all into your new home and decide it doesn’t look right. You end up not as happy with it as you thought you were. The number of homes purchased that don’t coincide with the new owners also purchasing new furnishings is next to zero.
If you’re buying a home with a pool or, say, a hot tub, you know you’re getting into some features that require upkeep. But what not every home buyer might realize is that there are ongoing maintenance costs associated with some less-obvious features in a home.
For example, a deck will need staining and sealing. You might buy a home with a sprinkler system or sump pump, neither of which you’ve ever been before responsible for maintaining. Granite counters need to be resealed every now and then, and central air conditioning requires at least semi-regular checkups. Heck, someone moving from an apartment or condo to a single-family home with a lawn might have to buy a lawnmower for the first time ever.
You might not think about it when you’re putting in an offer on a home, but if it has a sump pump, lawn or deck, it’s going to cost you to maintain.
You can purchase a “move-in ready” home, put all your stuff in it, and realize that it wasn’t quite move-in ready for you, specifically. What happens when that neutral wall color you first loved clashes with the furniture you have already spent thousands on?
For most people, re-painting seems to make more sense than putting all your current furniture on the curb and starting over. Almost anyone can paint a room, so changing the colors of the walls doesn’t seem like a tough task.
But what if your new home has a two-story foyer or great room? Are you willing or able to paint those walls so that your couch matches better? If not, it’s going to cost you to change the colors on the walls, which might have just been done by the sellers to make your new home “move-in ready.”
The bottom line is that almost no new homeowner’s bottom line isn’t affected by changes they want to make to a new home, even if it’s deemed move-in ready. It’s normal, but it helps to be aware, while in the home-buying process, that there will be some hidden costs associated with buying a new home.
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