The advent of shows like HGTV's Fixer-Upper and Property Brothers have ignited a fixer-upper spirit among buyers. Once you watch the television hosts rip out a bathroom, you begin to feel inspired. Bathrooms can be changed, walls can be taken down, and old kitchens can become sleek and modern, seemingly overnight. Before you jump in and buy a fixer-upper of your very own, what do you need to know?
While a fixer-upper may be the stuff of your dreams, you live in the here and now. Buyers should be realistic about every aspect of the home buying and renovation experience including budget, DIY skills, and renovation costs. Make sure that you budget appropriately for the cost of labor, materials, and unforeseen expenses. It's easy to write a particular renovation off as unimportant or something you can do yourself only to find out later that it's an issue that requires professional help. Being realistic with your budget from the beginning will help you create your dream home.
Get a Home Inspection Anyway
While a buyer may understand that the home is considered a fixer-upper, he or she still should still retain the services of an experienced home inspector. With any rehabilitation project, the buyer can readily see that the home has many issues. The inspection can help uncover issues that are not readily visible but may be deal breakers. Homes that need an electrical or plumbing overhaul are fine for some buyers but may be beyond the budget of others. An inspection helps the buyer make an informed decision about the property and can help inform the future rehabilitation of the home.
Be Clear About Your Intentions for the Property
When choosing a fixer-upper, buyers should be clear about their end goals for the home. Is the intention to flip it for a profit? Or is the goal to create a home for their family? Both are worthy goals but have very different outcomes.
For a flip project, the best properties are those that need only cosmetic upgrades and minimal structural improvements. For these projects, buyers should be aware of the home's starting value and then carefully choose projects that increase that value. An updated bath, a modern kitchen, and improvements to the home's curb appeal that can be completed quickly will help increase the home's value and the potential profit of the flip.
When purchasing a fixer-upper as a future family home, buyers should find a home that will work long-term for their needs. A 1930s farmhouse with a rambling yard may seem like a dream come true, but the inconveniences of limited bathrooms, few closets, and a closed floor plan may not work for the buyer's lifestyle and is cost prohibitive to fix. These buyers may be better off finding a property with a home whose current footprint fits their lifestyle.
Buying and renovating a fixer-upper can be a deeply satisfying experience for many buyers who enjoy adding custom touches to a home. With any renovation project, regardless of who does the actual work, a homeowner gets to choose the colors, fixtures and finishes that best suit their personal style. A fixer-upper, when done well, can give a home a custom feel without the cost of building a custom home from the ground up.
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