Should You Take the Plunge and Buy a Fixer-Upper?
You’ve found a house that needs a lot of work and you can already imagine the potential. But, are you truly ready to buy a home in need of drastic repairs? Before submitting an offer, here are some questions to ask yourself.
Is the house just ugly? If a fixer-upper has some cosmetic issues, you might be able to fix them yourself if you have done previous do-it-yourself home improvement projects. A fresh coat of paint, a different bathroom sink or new flooring can make all the difference. If you aren’t comfortable completing by yourself, contractors generally don’t charge too much for these types of improvements.
Is there any structural damage? Cosmetic issues are one thing; structural issues are another. If a home has any sort of structural damage, you should seriously consider the related costs before putting in an offer. Whether it is termites, plumbing problems or foundation troubles, these types of issues cost a lot of money to fix. Even if the seller has slashed the price, you might end up paying too much in the long run.
Do you have time for home improvement projects? If you are the type of person who loves to hike, go to the gym, hang out with friends and spend the weekends with family, you may not be a good candidate for this sort of project. Fixer-uppers take a lot of time and can seriously disrupt your life. Most successful fixers view the projects as investments and pastimes. If you don’t see it this way, you might want to reconsider your plans.
Do you have a place to live during construction? Unless you have an alternative place to live, you will need to be willing to live in a construction zone. If you are a die-hard do-it-yourselfer, this may not be a problem. For most people, however, this sort of living condition can get old fast. Be sure you understand and accept that your living conditions will be less than ideal until you complete your renovations.
Can you afford it? If you have to pinch pennies to afford that down payment, you aren’t going to have much cash left over for renovations. In this case, you should probably consider a home that’s move-in ready. Even if you think you have enough cash stowed away, add another 20% for extra expenses that always seem to arise with fixer-upper homes.
Can you find good contractors? To successfully renovate an old home, you will likely need the help of some good, affordable professionals. To find the right one, you must be willing to request several estimates and thoroughly research each candidate. Again, this takes a lot of time, so be sure you understand what you are in for before you make an offer.
Do you have realistic expectations? Home renovation shows make fixer-uppers look like fun investments. In reality, they can be frustrating time-suckers that test your relationships and sanity. Be sure you understand the real world is not like reality TV. That said, if you understand what to expect and are willing to make sacrifices, a fixer-upper can be a rewarding investment both financially and emotionally. Just be sure to have the property thoroughly inspected and verify that you will have the time and money to turn your dream home into reality.
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