Five Reasons To Buy a House that is NOT Move-In-Ready

The other day my husband asked me if I had ever looked at a house that I would consider “move-in-ready”. We may be in the market for a move in the next year or two, although we haven’t quite agreed on what our dream house will look like when we find it.

While I walk through every house thinking “Here’s how I could reconfigure this kitchen”, or “You could knock out that closet to expand the bathroom”, he has trouble looking at a dated house and imagining the finished product. Hence, his question.

My answer? Nope. I can’t think of one house in 20 years of casual open house visits and serious realtor-escorted tours that I would want to move into without doing a thing. Not. One.

In fact, I’ve told my realtor that I am not really interested in the houses that are billed as move-in-ready, and here’s why:

    1. I don’t want to pay a premium for someone else’s pre-sale kitchen upgrade. A brand new kitchen in an otherwise dated home screams that it was done to sell the house. I’m tired of seeing cheap big box kitchens (or dated oak cabinets) with a slab of bossy granite slapped on top to create a kitchen that doesn’t even look like it belongs with the rest of the house. I’d rather find a dated kitchen and tailor it to my specifications than to rip out, or have to live with, an expensive dud.
    2. In the same vein, I also don’t want to pay for a quick or ill-considered bathroom upgrade that more often than not seems to involve a belly sink and trendy accent tiles that relate to nothing else in the house. These pre-sale renos generally try to appeal to the broadest possible audience by screaming, “hey, here’s what ‘everyone’ wants these days”. (I don’t know about you, but while I’ve always enjoyed trends, the most surefire way to turn me off of something is to say that everyone has it!) I’m perfectly OK with gutting a bathroom, but, as with the kitchen, I’d just as soon gut an old one.
    3. I don’t want to be stuck with a major fixed element I can’t afford to replace. Not long ago I looked at a nice bungalow that had just had a new roof installed. You’d think that would be great — and it was, from a purely practical perspective. Esthetically speaking, it was a huge disappointment, as they had chosen a dated orangey brown shingle that didn’t work very well with the home’s other fixed elements. Unless they’re prepared to shell out for a new roof, whoever bought that house is now going to have to work their exterior colour choices around this dated, but new, roof for many years to come.
    4. I like to know what’s behind the walls. Once a house is old enough to have had some major renovations, I feel much better knowing what’s been done, who’s done it, and what it looks like behind that wall. I’m neither an electrician or a plumber, but I like to know that someone I trust has done the work and will assure me that the right work has been done, and in the right way.
    5. I want the opportunity to personalize my home to make it reflect the way we live and the things that matter to us. While huge amounts of personalization can be done without renovating, I also want to put my personal stamp on any renovations that do need to be done. (which kind of takes us back to point number one again, I suppose!)
      Now, pretty much any house that is clean and safe to inhabit could technically be considered move-in-ready. And I know that some people really do need or want to just move into a house and live in it without doing much more than adding their own furniture and decor items. There’s nothing wrong with that, and in fact, it can be fun to work inside that box.

But there is something to be said for the additional opportunities for personalization that come with buying a house that hasn’t yet gone under the knife at someone else’s hand.

What do you think? Would you rather buy a home where the reno has already been done, or are you the type who prefers to have it your way?

If you want help to uncover the possibility in your not-move-in-ready home, contact me to arrange a pre- or post-purchase consult.

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