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How Important Is a Move-In Ready Home? Here's What Buyers Have to Say

Jun 05, 2020 by Maurie Backman
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Most homes aren't perfect, and chances are, there's some element of yours that could use improving. Maybe your kitchen is somewhat outdated. Maybe your flooring has seen better days. Or maybe your unfinished basement is begging to be converted to usable space.

No matter what element of your home needs work, when the time comes to sell it, you have a choice: Invest in upgrades and repairs, or sell your home the way it is and let your purchase price reflect that. It's a tough call to make, but a recent survey by Porch, which connects customers and home service providers, might help you land on the right decision.

In a survey of homeowners across all generations, nearly 50% of baby boomers agreed that they'd gladly go over budget for a home that's move-in ready. But younger homeowners don't feel as strongly about the importance of having a house be move-in ready. Only about 42% of Gen Xers and 38% of millennials say they'd stretch themselves financially for a move-in ready home, which means that if you're on the fence about making last-minute upgrades, you may be able to skip a lot of them and list your home in its current state.

Which improvements should you focus on?

Updating your home prior to selling it isn't just about scoring a decent sale price; it's also about attracting buyers and moving your home off the market in a reasonably swift fashion. The longer your home sits, the more negotiating power buyers gain. Therefore, while you don't have to do a major overhaul prior to listing your home, it would help to address any glaring cosmetic or functional issues that are apt to turn prospective buyers away.

For example, if your bathroom faucet is clearly leaking, that's not the sort of problem worth ignoring. Similarly, it pays to invest in a good carpet cleaning -- or even replace heavily stained carpets -- before showing your home. And if you have rooms with chipping paint, refreshing them with a new coat is practically a must. All of these are relatively low-cost endeavors, but they'll help make a better first impression on buyers when they come to scope out your living space. Or to put it another way, they'll help ensure that buyers don't get turned off and run.

Furthermore, there are some more in-depth renovations you might consider before putting your home on the market. According to those surveyed by Porch, these are the top renovations sellers feel they'd need to make before listing their properties:

  • Remodeling a bathroom.
  • Renovating a kitchen.
  • Interior painting.
  • Putting in new flooring.
  • Exterior painting.
  • Landscaping.
  • Installing a new roof.
  • Doing electrical work.
  • Remodeling a bedroom.
  • Making plumbing updates.

Of course, some of these items are more expensive than others, and if your budget is limited, it could pay to focus on those that cost less. And remember, the terms "remodeling" and "renovating" can mean a lot of things. If you're aware that your kitchen could use a facelift, but you don't have the money to, say, rip out and replace rows of cabinets, try smaller changes, like refacing your cabinets and updating the hardware.

While there are certainly benefits to listing a move-in ready home, that's not everyone's reality. The good news is that you don't need your home to be perfect to find a buyer. Just aim to address your property's obvious flaws so they don't hurt your chances of getting an offer you're happy with.

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