What Is Move-in Condition?

Home Stager with Janice Ankrett Home Staging

Move-in condition is a phrase commonly used in realty ads.



To a buyer this phrase tells them they can move into this house on a Friday, put their belongings away over the weekend and go to work on Monday settled into their new home.


What does it mean and how does it apply to your house?


Move-in condition means:

  • there is no deferred maintenance. The taps do not drip. The heating and cooling system is in good condition. Doors and their hardware work and do not bind. There are no maintenance issues.
  • large items like roofing, furnace, air conditioner, flooring and windows do not need to be replaced in the near future.
  • the house does not require painting inside or out until the buyer is ready to make the changes they envision. The envelope is neutral so their furnishings look good. There are no marks or chips in the paint.
  • the kitchen has been renovated or updated. The buyer can see themselves using the kitchen without making changes.
  • the bathrooms have been renovated or updated. Again, the buyer feels they are ready for use.
  • the flooring is in good shape and does not require replacing.
  • the house is clean. The kitchen and bathrooms are sparkling. The carpeting and tile is shampooed and stain free. The appliances are clean inside and out.
  • the yard maintenance has been kept up.

It can be hard to look at your home with an objective eye. You have many memories that colour your view. What you have learned to live with may put off your buyer.


A home Stager or Realtor can look at your home with the eyes of a buyer and help you decide what needs to be done. These professionals can make sure your time and money is spent wisely to get the best ROI.






Is your home in move-in condition?


Posted by

Retired Home Stager










Comments (17)

Dan Tabit
Keller Williams Bellevue - Sammamish, WA

Great post.  I've been in many homes which made this claim, only to disappoint when we toured the inside.  I recently sold one that I thought was move in ready, newer roof, kitchen, paint & carpet, and the buyers still had professional cleaners go through it before they moved in.  If it wasn't as nice as it was, I wonder if they would have purchased it at all?

Jan 04, 2010 11:29 AM
Janice Ankrett
Janice Ankrett Home Staging - Burlington, ON
Staging Professional

Dan, as you know buyers can be very picky. They want the most for their money. I guess some buyers need to know the house is clean to their standards and the only way to do this is have the house cleaned themselves. Clean is one of the 5 C's of Staging and it's a big one ;)

Jan 04, 2010 11:37 AM
Brian Madigan
RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto) - Toronto, ON
LL.B., Broker



I would come up with a different definition of move-in condition. The reason is that updated kitchens and bathrooms are a matter of choice. The old kitchen with taps that don't leak still works.

The next question, is the cost of the kitchen. Up to move in condition the return on investment was dollar for dollar or maybe more, but after that the additions add less to the value less than their cost.



Jan 04, 2010 11:20 PM
Janice Ankrett
Janice Ankrett Home Staging - Burlington, ON
Staging Professional


Each buyer's definition of move-in condition will vary slightly according to their life style. As Dan pointed out, his buyer had the house cleaned professionally before moving into it. Legally as long as the house is functional and safe it is in move-in condition but it may only appeal to the fixer uppers and flippers. Move-in condition has come to mean the house has the 'I wants' of buyers. The less needed to meet buyers standards of today the wider the house's appeal to the market.

I agree that the seller has to be careful where they place their time and money when updating their home for buyers. That is why I recommend the seller get advice from a Stager and/or Realtor. I had a client that wanted to remove walls to open up the first floor. It would mean the expense of a structural engineer and support beams etc. In the process the home would lose a feature, the main floor family room. This was a family home of about 3000 sq ft. If the client was going to live there long enough to get the enjoyment out of the changes it would have been worth it. However this client was going to sell as soon as the house updates were done. I felt the money would be better spent on bathrooms and the kitchen. 

Jan 05, 2010 01:35 AM
Ty Lacroix
Envelope Real Estate Brokerage Inc - London, ON


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and if I am a pig, I can move in but if I am a normal red blooded human, I don't think so.

Good points that you have made and being a Hemmingway in writing listings may not be the best thing to do.


Jan 05, 2010 08:43 AM
Janice Ankrett
Janice Ankrett Home Staging - Burlington, ON
Staging Professional


I agree. Some of the listing descriptions in ads are over the top. It must be hard to keep it factual and still make it appealing enough to draw in buyers.

Jan 05, 2010 10:12 AM
Toronto, ON

I would add to Brian's comments, at least for new houses and condos, and state that "move-in" condition could be as early as when the occupancy permit is issued by the municipality.  Obviously, the term "move-in" can mean different things to different people.

Jan 05, 2010 10:54 PM
Janice Ankrett
Janice Ankrett Home Staging - Burlington, ON
Staging Professional


You are so right. Thanks for expanding the definition. The term 'move-in condition' is used in many ways in real estate. I hope more people will add to it so that buyers and sellers reading this post will become aware and ask how it applies to their situation. They may see it in an ad or in a contract, in a buying or selling format. Obviously the definition varies and they should clarify it. In my niche it applies to the condition of the resale home.

Jan 06, 2010 02:19 AM
unknown person
Toronto, ON

Hi Janice - nice post!  Move-in verses Priced-right; its about getting the balance right.

If your seller is aiming for the potential full market value then yes you better have a good number of your points checked off.

Jan 06, 2010 05:25 AM
Janice Ankrett
Janice Ankrett Home Staging - Burlington, ON
Staging Professional


Thank you.

Their home is usually the seller's biggest investment. Getting as much equity as possible out of it is high on the wish list. Sellers should realize they are competing with other comps in their area. Buyers of course want the most for their money. The more buyers the house appeals to the better the seller's chance of success.

Jan 06, 2010 07:04 AM
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes"

Janice ~ Well put.... today's buyers really do want move in ready.  Once they start seeing deferred maintenance in a home for sale, the dollar signs start adding up!!

Jan 10, 2010 07:34 AM
Janice Ankrett
Janice Ankrett Home Staging - Burlington, ON
Staging Professional

That's right Maureen. Whatever they feel it will cost them to bring the house up to their standards will be deducted from their offer or they will move on to another house that is move in ready.

Jan 10, 2010 09:34 AM
Rita Minion
O'Brien Realty - Solomons, MD

Hello Janice,

Terrific post!  Most buyers today really do want move-in condition.  You made very good points!  Thanks for sharing!



Jan 10, 2010 12:41 PM
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566

"Move in ready" verbiage is a good way to get the needed repairs concept across.

Jan 10, 2010 09:30 PM
Janice Ankrett
Janice Ankrett Home Staging - Burlington, ON
Staging Professional

Rita, thanks for stopping by.

Cheryl, Yes, it is important to get the message to our clients clearly.

Jan 11, 2010 12:54 AM
C. Bartch
Newark, OH

Hi Janice, all your move in points are certainly valid. You never know, these items to be 'done' you mention in your post could be the difference between a seller choosing your home and another down the street.

Jan 13, 2010 12:05 AM
Janice Ankrett
Janice Ankrett Home Staging - Burlington, ON
Staging Professional

Thanks Cynthia. Sellers have to meet today's buyer's expectations.

Jan 13, 2010 12:48 AM