Is Buying a Fixer-Upper Worth It?

Homes listed in a condition that requires extensive repairs are called “fixer-uppers” for a reason. While these types of homes are often much cheaper than the asking price of similar remodeled homes in the area, many first-time homebuyers make the mistake of taking on more than they’re able to handle, spending hundreds of thousands on making the house livable. Below are the most important questions to find answers for when considering purchasing a fixer-upper.

What kind of work needs to be done?

For the purposes of simplicity, let’s look at the two main types of repairs you may need to have done.

  1. Cosmetic repairs are needed to fix issues that will not endanger you or affect your quality of life. Examples include: chipping paint, stained carpets, nail holes in the wall, dead grass in the yard, or ugly wallpaper. These can be fixed easily, and typically at a reasonable cost.

  2. Structural repairs are necessary when there are damages that affect the structure and stability of the home, and should be taken seriously. Some examples of structural issues are: aging or leaking roof, old pipe systems that need to be replaced, termite damage, or exterior wall cracks.

Can you make repairs on your own?

If the only problems you’re facing with the house are cosmetic, it may be realistic to take on the repair work yourself. There are plenty of DIY home repair sources that show you how to fill nail holes in drywall or remove wallpaper easily. Unless you’re an experienced home repair expert, it’s probably a better idea to hire a contractor to take care of structural damages.

Are the repairs in your price range?

Always overestimate when calculating projected home repair costs, because nine times out of ten, it will end up costing significantly more than you expect. If you already know you’ll need to pay for outside help with repairs, get an estimate from a professional so as to avoid any unpleasant surprises later on.

What’s your living situation?

Ideally when buying a fixer-upper, you’d have an alternate place to stay such as a rental or with friends and family while the repairs are being completed. Something else to consider is the amount of time you expect to live in the home; if you’re planning on relocating in a year or two, it may not be worth the investment. Selling a home while under renovation is incredibly difficult.

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