How Home Sellers Can Make Their Property Move-In Ready

by Dana George | Updated July 19, 2021 - First published on March 30, 2021

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that pay us a commission. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.
Person with rubber gloves on cleaning a window.

Image source: Getty Images

Getting your home ready for market can be easy. Here's how you can do it.

If you're like most home buyers, the moment you decide a house is a contender, your mind gets busy. You picture your belongings in the space, and imagine potential upgrades. But here's when things can get discouraging: when you consider how much time and money it may take to make the house move-in ready.

What does move-in ready mean?

Move-in ready means the house is ready to occupy. All a buyer has to do is move in, unpack boxes, and arrange furniture. There's nothing to repair, nothing to clean, and little to worry about.

Here's how to set your house apart by making it move-in ready.

Spring for an inspection

Typically, a home buyer pays for a home inspection and, if problems are found, negotiates with the seller to make repairs or lower the sale price. However, paying for a home inspection before your house goes on the market can be smart. For the price of a home inspection (roughly $400) you find out if anything needs to be repaired, get to choose your own contractors to make repairs (usually, the buyer selects the contractor), and can market and sell the home as "move-in ready."

Here's what that means for buyers:

  • They can be confident, knowing the house has properly functioning electrical, heating and cooling, and plumbing systems. They don't have to worry about roof leaks or replacing windows. The appliances work, and there are no clogged drains.
  • Buyers save money by not paying for an inspection, which may lead to a higher offer on the house.

Making your home move-in ready is not only a nice thing to do for buyers, it's also good business. Even if you don't spring for an inspection, you can do your best to identify any problems and repair them before the house goes on the market. When a buyer can't find a single thing they "must" do before moving in, you remove a potential sales barrier. All they have to worry about is getting a great mortgage rate.

Deep clean

If you have moved into a new residence, you may well have been exhausted on move-in day. Imagine knowing you need to do a deep clean before you can even move your boxes into a house. It may not be enough to turn off every buyer, but it could lead to fewer offers (or worse yet, lower offers).

To make your house move-in ready, clean every surface, from countertops to ceiling fan blades. If you have carpeting, deep clean it so there's no odor and it looks as close to new as possible.

You might also consider paying a "move out" company to clean and sanitize the house. Depending on the size of your home, the cost should be a maximum of around $300. The advantage is that you can do it when you first put it on the market, saving you the trouble of scrubbing every nook and cranny.

Apply a fresh coat of paint where needed

As much as you might adore a cranberry/teal combo, buyers often mentally calculate how much it will cost to repaint an interior in their preferred colored scheme. Unfortunately, as those costs add up, buyers tend to subtract that amount from how much they will offer for the house.

The same goes for walls that are scuffed or dirty. Give them a fresh coat of paint in a neutral shade, so the only thing a buyer thinks about is how great the room will look with their stuff in it.

If your house's exterior is peeling or the paint is fading, scrape and touch up. In addition to removing a distraction that potential buyers know they'll have to deal with, it adds to the sense that you're the kind of homeowner who doesn't delay maintenance.

Mow and trim

Your lawn does not need to look like it belongs at the Palace of Versailles, but again, it's about removing anything that could be distracting. Trim the bushes, pull weeds, and mow the lawn. Say a busy young family wants to move in, but they're afraid they won't have the time or energy to get the yard the way they want it. You can remove any concerns they may have by doing it for them.

If you're selling your home, now is the time to think about how your bank account will look after a successful sale. You may well squeeze every last penny from your house by making it more move-in ready than the competition.

The Ascent's Best Mortgage Lender of 2022

Mortgage rates are on the rise — and fast. But they’re still relatively low by historical standards. So, if you want to take advantage of rates before they climb too high, you’ll want to find a lender who can help you secure the best rate possible.

That is where Better Mortgage comes in.

You can get pre-approved in as little as 3 minutes, with no hard credit check, and lock your rate at any time. Another plus? They don’t charge origination or lender fees (which can be as high as 2% of the loan amount for some lenders).

Read our free review

About the Author