If you’re in the market to buy a new home, you may have considered buying a fixer-upper. But how do you know if it’s the right option for you? Maybe you’ve been watching those reality television shows that give you a glimpse into the process, but the truth is, what you see isn’t always reality!
This month, we’ll help you weigh your options to see if buying a fixer-upper is the right decision for you.
Why you should buy a fixer-upper
Let’s face it, buying a fixer-upper house can be like finding a diamond in the rough. Older homes are known for having charm and characteristics not found in today’s newer structures. Plus, with some time and money, you could possibly double your investment. Whether the real estate market is hot, cold or flat, the truth is that any time is a good time to buy a fixer-upper, since the sale is immune to the temperature of the market. Sound good so far?
Here are some other reasons to consider a fixer-upper:
- Save thousands of dollars on your potential dream house.
- Live in a larger house in a desirable neighborhood (or better school district) that you may not have been able to afford elsewhere.
- Customize the house to make it your own with renovations that suit your lifestyle while keeping the integrity, beauty and charm of an older home.
So, the question remains: Do you have what it takes to embark on what might seem like an insurmountable task?
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you have the vision and creativity to see the potential of what an older home has the potential to become?
- Do you have the money needed to put into the renovations?
- Do you have the skills to do some of the work yourself or enough cash on hand to hire someone?
- Do you have the time to commit to the renovation?
- Do you have the patience to live in a work zone while the renovations are going on (or another place to live while the work takes place)?
- Are you willing to become a weekend warrior?
If you answered “yes” to most of the questions, then buying a fixer-upper may be the way to go.
Getting the renovation done
There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that renovating a fixer-upper can be a long, tedious, and oftentimes stressful process. You can count on things going wrong (and sometimes very wrong), but with the right game plan and careful planning, you’ll be happy you stuck it out.
Here are some things to remember if you decide to take on a fixer-upper:
- Arrange financing either through home equity lines of credit or a mortgage.
- Determine a fair purchase offer (fair market value if the house was in good condition minus the costs of upgrades and repair costs).
- Hire a reputable inspector to determine if the house is sound and to uncover any hidden issues in need of repair or replacement (e.g. termites, foundation issues, etc.)
- Hire a reputable contractor to determine costs and if repairs are doable and cost-effective. (Get a written estimate.)
- Hire professionals for any electrical, plumbing, and roof repairs.
- Set a budget and build in a 10-to-20 percent buffer for unexpected expenses.
- Expect delays and unexpected issues.
- Pull permits, if necessary.
- Invest in quality materials, because now is not the time to skimp.
- Plan on doing some of the work yourself to save money.
- Choose projects that will bring you the best return on investment (ROI).
When buying a fixer-upper doesn’t pay off
For all the great reasons to buy a fixer-upper, there are a few that might well have you running in the other direction.
Here are some red flags to look out for:
- Buying a house on a hill is never a smart idea. It can slide and cause foundation issues, not to mention the accompanying sloping lawns that are difficult to mow, driveways that are not flat, and having to lug groceries uphill.
- Think twice about buying the house if you don’t like the property it’s sitting on. Remember that while you can change the house, you can’t change the location. If there’s not enough yard space already, there never will be.
- Be on the lookout for hidden repairs – those ones you can’t see with the naked eye – which include electrical systems, plumbing, foundation upgrades, and extensive roof repairs. These significant improvements often do not raise the value of the house and can be extremely costly.
- When repairs and renovations outweigh the ROI.
How Granite and Trend Transformations can help
After all is said and done, buying a fixer-upper can be a rewarding experience. After all, you’ve just designed your home exactly the way you wanted it (hopefully within budget), with all the modern amenities to suit your individual lifestyle. And don’t forget about saving on your energy bills. If you replaced windows, doors, flooring and appliances, then it’s like having money in the bank.
When it comes to renovating your home, Granite and Trend Transformations can be your one-stop shop for all your kitchen and bathroom design needs. Our design experts will help you lay out the space (by how you want it) and select the right materials to fit your needs as well as those of the space. Additionally, our trained, certified installation team will install everything for you, so you won’t need to deal with multiple contractors; everything is done by us and we’ll guide you through the entire process. This will take some stress off of you and leave you better equipped to deal with anything else that might be going wrong with your fixer-upper at the time. Granite and Trend Transformations offer attractive cabinetry, stunning glass mosaic tile backsplashes, and beautiful, durable countertops and surfaces to help turn your fixer-upper into your dream home. Visit our Design Inspiration gallery for a firsthand look at our most popular kitchen and bath designs. Contact us today for a free in-home design consultation and see how easy it is to get started.
Happy house hunting!