Should You Buy a Fixer-Upper?

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Thinking of buying a fixer-upper? We know there’s nothing quite like a good “before” and “after” on one of HGTV’s many home improvement shows. However, you should also know, there’s nothing quite like the exhaustion and stress that goes along with remodeling a rundown home. Trust us when we say that redoing a fixer-upper isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires time and money – not to mention, a stellar team of home improvement professionals and design experts. Nevertheless, for homebuyers with the right skills and resources, purchasing a fixer-upper can be one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives. After all, transforming a dilapidated property into a dream home is not only fun (for the design enthusiasts) but also beneficial to the community as a whole. In many cases, renovating a fixer-upper allows homebuyers to purchase a property in an area where they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.

Purchasing a fixer-upper comes with quite a few pros and cons – all of which are worth considering before sinking money into a home. Ultimately, the decision over whether or not to buy a fixer-upper will come down to your needs, abilities and resources. Here are seven important questions to ask yourself prior to buying a fixer-upper.

7 questions to consider before buying a fixer-upper

Can you afford the renovations?

First and foremost, can you afford to renovate the home? To find out, we recommend writing down a list of all changes you wish to make to the fixer-upper. Before purchasing the home, invite a general contractor to conduct a walk-through with you. Ask him or her for advice and guidance on pricing. Depending on the extent of the walk-through, the contractor may even be able to give you a general estimate of overall costs. We also recommend researching Remodeling’s 2019 Cost vs. Value Report to get an idea of home improvement expenses. Once you have a general idea of the costs, examine your budget closely. Do you have wiggle room for unexpected expenses? We certainly hope so, as almost all fixer-uppers are sure to come with a few surprises behind those walls. If you feel confident that you can afford the renovations, then taking on the fixer-upper could be the right decision. If you’re unsure whether or not you can swing the expenses, then we don’t recommend buying a fixer-upper.
Are you getting a good deal on the home?

If you plan to sell the fixer-upper in the future (and hope to make some money on that investment), make sure you get a good deal on the home. In other words: don’t overpay for the fixer-upper. If the home is located in a desirable part of town, you’ll likely have to pay a bit more. Just make sure it’s worth the investment before spending your hard-earned money on the house. To ensure that you get a good deal on the home, it’s important to use a seasoned and reputable Realtor. A trustworthy real estate agent should be able to help you determine and negotiate a fair price for the home. If you’re unable to get the fixer-upper for the right price, walk away from the deal.
Are you planning to flip the home?

Is this a home you plan to design and renovate for yourself or for someone else? If the plan is to flip the home and sell to local homebuyers, you’ll need to research and assess home improvement areas where you get the most bang for your buck. In general, buyers are more likely to pay up for a home with a master suite, well-done landscaping, outdoor deck additions and modern kitchen finishes. Since you’re not designing the home for yourself, you’ll need to assess the costs of designing it for the masses. For instance, neutral paint colors and dark wood floors tend to appeal to the majority of homebuyers. In addition, the location of the fixer-upper majorly impacts the home’s resale potential. It’s important to keep this in mind, if flipping the home.
Do you know contractors?

How exactly are you going to renovate the fixer-upper? Unless you’re a licensed contractor, you’re going to need a team of professionals to get your plans off the ground. Before purchasing a fixer-upper, make sure you have a list of top contractors in the area. A seasoned general contractor should be able to help you secure permits from the city, collect materials for the home renovation and find reputable subcontractors to complete various projects. Throughout the renovation process, the general contractor will be your contact for almost everyone and everything. They’ll also be someone you end up spending a good deal of time with. For these reasons, it’s important to hire someone you trust and like. If you have no experience working with contractors and/or no clue where to find one, then think long and hard before taking on a fixer-upper.
How much time will these renovations take?

Before buying a fixer-upper, get an idea from a local contractor on how long the renovations will take. Oftentimes, renovating a fixer-upper takes four months or more. If permits from the city are required, expect a delay in your renovation timeline. Unfortunately, these permits can sometimes take weeks (if not months!) to obtain. If you need to move to a new home in under six months, then taking on a fixer-upper may be the wrong decision. On the other hand, if you have the luxury of waiting, purchasing a fixer-upper could be the right move. 
Where do you plan to live during the renovations?

Will you be able to live in the fixer-upper while it’s being renovated? If the answer is no, then you’ll need a place to crash during the remodeling process, which could take anywhere from three or four months to upwards of a year or more. If you can afford to carry two places at once or you have a free place to stay in the meantime, then a purchasing a fixer-upper could be a no-brainer. However, if purchasing a fixer-upper means living in the midst of construction chaos or maxing out your credit cards, then it’s probably not the right decision.
Will you enjoy the renovation process?

Do you have a creative eye or a passion for interior design? If so, you’ll likely enjoy the home renovation process. Though it’s certainly exhausting, designing and creating a home can also be a fun way to express your style. If you enjoy taking on large projects, are highly organized and have a desire to beautify and customize a home, then buying a fixer-upper could be the right decision for you. On the other hand, if the idea of taking on a large renovation project stresses you out, we suggest thinking twice before investing your time and money in a fixer-upper.

Ready to move?

Perhaps you decided to take a leap of faith and redo a fixer-upper or perhaps you’re buying a move-in ready home. Whatever the case, congratulations on your recent purchase! Now, you just need a moving company to transport your belongings. To find a reliable moving company, check Moving.com’s extensive network of movers. Our website makes it easy to find and book the best moving company for the job. All relocation companies in our network are licensed and insured, so you can rest assured that your move will be in good hands.

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