How To Identify a Move-In-Ready House To Buy

June 19, 2024

James Hughes, a Rutgers University expert on U.S. housing trends, doesn’t know this accountant, but he endorses her dream of finding a move-in-ready property that offers a low cost of living — especially because energy and insurance costs are rising rapidly.

“In the past, homebuyers focused primarily on their monthly mortgage payments. Now they’re thinking more about the larger financial picture,” Hughes says.

“Anyone who hasn’t noticed rising utility costs has been sleepwalking through the past decade,” Hughes says.

Perhaps you’re enamored of a brand-new Georgian-style house with five bedrooms and a home theater equipped with an oversized TV. Or maybe you fancy a big old Victorian with lots of architectural flourishes — a house built during the Gilded Age in the late 1800s.

Either way, Hughes urges you to take into account the costs of heating and cooling any large place you plan to buy.

“Be sure to ask the current owners to give you two to three years’ worth of utility bills for the property. Notice the trend, keeping in mind that energy costs will undoubtedly keep rising,” Hughes says.

— Take upkeep costs into account.

If you buy a brand-new house from a builder with high construction standards, you can often expect relatively low repair and appliance-replacement costs for a period of five to 10 years. But chances are you’ll be less lucky if you purchase an older home, which could be especially expensive to maintain if it’s large.

“When you need a new roof on a big house, that’s going to be extremely costly, as would be a new cooling system. So be sure you could handle those expenditures,” Hughes says.

He also recommends you think twice about the upkeep costs of owning a house with a lot of wood trim and siding, which will probably need extensive repainting every few years.

One way to gain help in approximating future upkeep costs is to be sure your home inspection is done by a well-trained inspector. One source of referrals: the American Society of Home Inspectors (

Are you considering a property with a large yard and expecting to hire a landscaping service company to keep up the grounds? In that case, Hughes says you can assume the cost of yard work will increase in coming years.

“Rising energy and labor costs mean the landscapers will have to charge more to take on your place,” Hughes says.

Whether you’re planning to move to a gated community in the suburbs or a condo-apartment building in an urban setting, the odds are you’ll be subject to a monthly fee to cover the costs of maintenance, security and other common expenses.

Before you commit to any property with a monthly management charge, Hughes says you should get detailed information on these charges — going back multiple years. Then examine the statistics carefully to see if inflation has been a major factor pushing up these costs. If so, he says you should assume this trend will continue in coming years.

“Nowadays when buying a home, you really have to scour the place for expensive defects and crunch a lot of numbers on costs,” Hughes says.

UExpress, June 19,2024


Recent Posts

Winecoff: Working Paper on Health Insurance Enrollment

Spillovers in Public Benefit Enrollment: How does Expanding Public Health Insurance for Working-Age Adults affect Future Health Insurance Choices? Abstract Enrollment in one public benefit program often affects enrollment in others. We study life-course spillovers by...

$21.1 million Awarded for the Safe Routes to School Program

The Murphy Administration announced $21.1 million for 23 grants under the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program on July 10, 2024. The New Jersey Safe Routes to School Program, supported by the New Jersey Department of Transportation, is a statewide initiative with a...

Deanna Moran Named MA Chief Coastal Resilience Officer

Deanna Moran, AICP (MPP/MCRP '16) was named the Chief Coastal Resilience Officer by the Healey-Driscoll Administration to address climate change impacts along Massachusetts’ coastline. Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rebecca Tepper announced Deanna...

Voorhees Transportation Center seeks new Executive Director

The Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center (VTC) seeks a new Executive Director who will oversee the center’s research program, technical services and other initiatives, including external relations, communications, business development, and fundraising. The Executive...

How the heat will continue to affect your commute

Clinton J. Andrews, director of the Center for Urban Policy Research at Rutgers University, joins Drive Time with Michael Wallace to discuss how the heat affects transit infrastructure in and around the city.    WCBS AM-NY, July 11, 2024

Upcoming Events

Event Series CAREERS

Virtual Career Drop-ins


Stop by virtually on Mondays (except for holidays) beginning September 9th through December 16th between 11 am and 1 pm to ask a quick (15 min) career-related question of Bloustein […]