Tips & AdviceDifferences Between Move-in-Ready And Fixer-Upper Homes

Differences Between Move-in-Ready And Fixer-Upper Homes


Buying a home is a big life decision that can be daunting. When house hunting, you will face a lot of different choices along the way and have a lot of things to consider. Some homeowners may have to consider whether they want to buy a fixer-upper or a move-in-ready

Each type of home has advantages and disadvantages and will provide homeowners with different experiences. Continue reading to learn more about the different homes and determine which works best for your buying process.

What Is Fixer-Upper Home?

A Fixer-upper home is a piece of property that needs substantial repairs, remodeling, or updating to make it liveable. Usually, it requires more work than just a new coat of paint on the walls. The property has to undergo proper maintenance work like redesign, decoration, or reconstruction.

Some may require simple updates like cosmetic changes or redecoration. Homes with severe problems may need significant repairs, like replacing floors, roofs, or walls. In this situation, the house may be unsafe until repairs bring it to a liveable condition. Since the home needs repairs, the purchase price for a fixer-upper home is lower than it would be for a move-in-ready home in the exact location.

Fixer-upper homes are also called fix-and-flip properties, rehab houses, or flipper houses.

What Is A Move-In-Ready Home?

A move-in-ready home is ready for immediate occupancy. A homebuyer could purchase the home and move into it right after closing. They are already up to code and do not need structural repairs or immediate improvements to become liveable.

Still, homebuyers may still want to remodel, renovate, or add to a move-in-ready home to bring it up to their standards. Someone may purchase a move-in-ready home and still complete minor renovations like acquiring new appliances, updating the bathroom, redoing the floors, or switching out doors and windows.

Move-in-ready homes typically come with a higher purchase price than a fixer-upper home, as the homebuyer will not need to spend copious amounts of cash to make the home liveable.

The Pros Of Fixer-Upper Homes

A fixer-upper home can be the right choice for some homebuyers. Here are some of the pros and cons of a fixer-upper home.

1. Reduced purchase price

Typically, fixer-uppers come at a lower price than move-in-ready homes. However, it is advisable to factor in the renovation cost when calculating your savings.

Additionally, homeowners can use a construction-to-permanent loan when purchasing a fixer-upper home. This loan covers the homebuyer during the renovation process and then transitions into a standard mortgage loan when the home becomes inhabitable. Construction-to-permanent loans provide a flexible financing option for those considering buying a home that needs substantial work.

2. You can customize your home

Buying a fixer-upper gives you room to renovate and tailor your home to match your style and needs. You will have the chance to select furnishings, exercise your creativity and control the overall look of your home. Design-savvy buyers who want a say in how their home looks may decide to purchase a fixer-upper home so they can design it according to their vision.

Some homebuyers may explicitly search for fixer-upper homes built in an earlier period to take on a restoration project. Buying an older home that needs work allows buyers to capture a piece of history and bring it to a safe and liveable condition.

3. Investment opportunities

Purchasing a fixer-upper home and transforming it into a turnkey property can be a good investment for homebuyers if done correctly. They will purchase the property at a reduced price and, depending on the quality of their renovations and repairs, can flip the home and sell it at a profit.

If you’re thinking of purchasing a fixer-upper home with the sole intention of flipping and never occupying it yourself, ensure to move through the process with caution and only do so if you can financially recoup potential losses. While television shows glamorize flipping homes, it can quickly become an expensive and overwhelming task. Consult with your trusted financial advisor and the potential construction companies you plan to work with to ensure you know the project’s expected cost before you embark on the buying process.

4. Cheaper property taxes

Homebuyers will pay property taxes based on their home’s purchase price. This means that buying a fixer-upper will cost you less in taxes than buying a move-in-ready house, as you’ll likely spend less on the purchase price of a fixer-upper than you will on a move-in-ready home. If you decide to make energy-efficient improvements to your property, you may also qualify for additional tax credits, saving you money during tax season.

The Cons of Fixer-Upper Homes

While fixer-upper homes provide homebuyers with opportunities for customizing at a discounted rate, there are several aspects to consider when purchasing this type of property.

1. Renovations can be stressful

Renovations are stressful, expensive, and time-consuming. The average remodel can take four to five months. High construction costs, supply chain issues, and inflation can stall projects. If your contractor can’t source materials, you’ll likely need to extend your timeline and put off your move-in date.

A homebuyer debating buying a fixer-upper home should account for the mental strain this type of project can take. If you’re running behind schedule on moving into a home, it could add a higher stress level to your day-to-day. Couple that with other big life changes and unexpected circumstances, and that stress can quickly add up.

2. Need for temporary housing

Due to non-stop noise and long months of renovation, you likely will not be able to occupy the home you decide to renovate until the project wraps up. Therefore, homebuyers will still need to find a place to live while their renovation takes place, meaning they may continue to foot the bill on a previous mortgage or rent payment while also funding the cost of their construction project.

3. It’s harder to get financing

Getting a loan for a fixer-upper is challenging. Some mortgage lenders see home renovation as a risky investment. Since loan possibilities are limited, you may have to use more expensive loan options. Construction-to-permanent loans offer an advantageous financing option for borrowers but usually, come with a higher interest rate and stricter requirements. It can be more difficult to qualify for this type of loan, and those debating purchasing a fixer-upper should ensure they can meet those requirements before moving forward.

4. Renovations can get expensive

Renovations do not always go as planned, meaning you may have to pay more than you originally anticipated. Extra costs can throw a wrench in your financing options. Therefore, you should consult with your financial advisor to ensure that you set aside enough extraneous funding to cover the cost of an unexpected hiccup.

The Pros Of Move-In-Ready Homes

Many homebuyers who decide to purchase move-in-ready homes do so because of the following benefits:

1. You can move in immediately

Purchasing a home is already a time-consuming and energy-draining task, and many buyers are ready to move into their homes after completing the buying process. With most move-in-ready homes, you’ll be able to start moving in right after closing.

2. No unexpected costs

During the home-buying process, you’ll complete a home inspection and final walk-through, providing opportunities to address concerns or problems with the home. Before you move in, the seller will usually front the cost of the expenses to bring the home up to a liveable standard, meaning you do not have to budget for unexpected repairs.

3. They are easier to budget for

Move-in-ready homes are easier to budget for because they don’t require remodeling or renovations after the purchase. Consequently, you won’t need to be concerned about construction costs exceeding your budget. Instead, all you need to do is find a home that fits within your financial capability.

The Cons of Move-in-ready Homes

Move-in-ready homes also come with their share of disadvantages, including:

1. More expensive

Move-in-ready homes cost more than fixer-uppers. A homebuyer will spend more on the purchase price of this type of home than they would for a comparable fixer-upper property. Essentially, you are paying for the cost of an immediately inhabitable home that you would likely spend during the construction phase of a fixer-upper.

2. Leaves less room for customization

Move-in-ready homes provide less easily accessible opportunities for customization, as you will not complete renovations or large repairs. Therefore, you’ll focus mostly on interior design for the time being and potentially complete a remodel or renovation down the line. A homebuyer who wants a hands-on experience where they choose many of the features and amenities in their home should consider purchasing a fixer-upper.

Is It Cheaper To Buy A Fixer-Upper Home?

Fixer-upper homes typically have a lower purchase price than comparable move-in-ready homes. A homebuyer who purchases a fixer-upper will spend less on the physical home itself but then have to fund construction and renovation projects. Depending on the size and scale of those projects, a homebuyer purchasing a fixer-upper may spend more than someone purchasing a move-in-ready home.

However, fixer-upper homes also allow buyers to bring their property to a high enough standard that they can recoup their investment and sell the home for a sizeable purchase price down the line. They provide more customizable options for the buyer who plans to sell the home within a few years and generate a profit.

Is It Better To Buy A Move-in-ready Home Or A Fixer-Upper?

Deciding whether to buy a fixer-upper or move-in-ready home will depend on your priorities and lifestyle. If you don’t have enough time to devote to a renovation but can afford to pay more for a home, you can settle for a move-in-ready home. However, if you have enough time to complete a construction project and plan to sell your home within a short period to make a profit, you may opt for a fixer-upper home.


Fixer-upper and move-in-ready homes come with their unique benefits and drawbacks that make them appealing to different types of homebuyers. Before you decide which type of home to buy, consider your priorities and determine what your budget allows for. You can always consult with a financial advisor and qualified real estate professional to gain more clarity on which situation makes sense for you.

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