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What to Look for in a Fixer-Upper

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - Article by: Lender411 Member

Buying a fixer-upper is a great opportunity for homebuyers to get a good deal on a home, and have enough money leftover to make their own mark with a change in decor and renovations. But not all fixer-uppers are alike; we've all heard the horror stories of families who have bought homes only to have them turn into bottomless money pits. So what should you look for if you're shopping for a fixer-upper?

Get a Good Inspection by a Trustworthy Inspector

If you're thinking of buying a fixer-upper, you absolutely must have it inspected by a trustworthy inspector before you seal the deal. It isn't just cosmetic damage you have to consider when you're buying a fixer-upper - you need to know what's underneath the aging patina.

Make Sure the Bones are Good

Do not buy a fixer-upper with serious structural or foundation issues. You want the major components of the house to be completely sound; avoid leaky roofs, wet basements, problems with the foundation, doors and windows that are falling apart and other serious structural issues. These types of large repairs suck up huge amounts of cash before you ever get to touch a paint swatch or make any cosmetic repairs; these types of homes can turn into money pits. Make sure the bones are good before you buy.

Look for Homes that Need Renovations in Key Areas

If you're interested in a fixer-upper, look for homes that need renovations in key areas, such as kitchens, bathrooms or general decor. If the home looks dated but has good bones, it's a great candidate for fixing up. When you do your own renovations, you get to choose exactly what you want to do - you're not stuck with a newly-renovated home that someone else has put together that's not quite what you want.

Stick with a Budget

Settle on a budget for your renovations, and then plan a renovation that will cost less, because unexpected things always come up. If you have a total budget of $20,000, plan for a renovation that will cost $14,000 - then you have wiggle-room when unexpected expenses crop up. If you can't do your entire planned renovation within your budget, what can you live with for now and address later as more money is free? Will it drive you crazy to live with that paint color in the master bedroom for another year or two? If you can't complete the entire renovation within your budget, be realistic about what work you can put off and whether it's still a good investment for you.

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