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Caution to Home Buyers: "Move-in" is a temporary condition.

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Chino Hills

Mop & bucketCaution to Home Buyers: "Move-in" is a temporary condition.

The word's gone around -- both as hard evidence and anecdotal -- that the vast majority of buyers are looking for a home that's move-in ready. And though I agree that, in this market, it usually makes financial sense to skip the serious fixers, some people may need the reminder that "move-in" is a temporary condition.

I get that we're busy -- all of us. Here in Southern California, you almost always need two incomes to buy -- and on top of work hours, the commute can add another 2 or 3 hours to your day. By the time you get home, you're wiped out. And weekends? They're for fun, right? You don't want to spend your Saturdays scraping wallpaper or tearing up old carpet. I don't blame you -- neither do I.

But the truth is that, once you start living in your home, the "move-in" condition won't last forever. Within the first week or so, there'll be lawns to cut, countertops to clean, bathrooms to scrub, floors to sweep. A little later, you'll have filters to change, shrubs to trim, grout to seal, paint to touch up, decks to varnish, sprinkler heads to replace, or carpet to shampoo. Eventually an appliance will go on the blink. The roof could leak. A pipe could burst.

The point is that you WILL need to spend time and money on your home. It's a fact. It's a given. The only way to avoid it is to be a tenant all your life.

For the first year, you'll probably be covered by a home warranty -- which solves some problems with a phone call and a reasonable service fee. But the home warranty covers things that actually break -- it's not going to take care of your maintenance for you. It won't rake the leaves or clean out the dryer vent or trim the tree or oil the chain on the garage door. You'll be doing those things, OR you'll be deferring maintenance -- in which case when the time comes to sell, YOU could be the one trying to unload the fixer!

A few homes are desperately "in need of TLC", and a few make you feel like you could set down your furniture and get on with your life. Realistically, though, most homes fall somewhere between those two extremes. So, rather than limit yourself to the very best-looking listings -- for which you'll probably pay more because of the fierce competition -- you might want to broaden your search a bit, and consider something a little less shiny and freshly-scrubbed.

You MIGHT be able to save a little on the purchase price; you MIGHT avoid the stress of a multiple-offer situation; and you MIGHT find that -- by simply starting the cleaning and maintenance just a few weeks earlier than you'd planned -- you end up with a really terrific buy on a home that's perfect for you.

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Copyright © 2011 Diane Mora Chino Hills Realtor®

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