Are You Ready to Buy a Fixer Upper?

Posted by Justin Havre on Friday, August 18th, 2017 at 10:40am.

Most fixer uppers can require a lot of time and resources to become a functional, pleasant place to live. For first time home buyers, or for homebuyers who have never taken on a major renovation project, it can be hard to tell if a fixer upper is a manageable commitment. Before you sign a contract, these tips will help you evaluate your situation and decide whether or not a fixer upper is right for you. 

Evaluate Your DIY Skills

Even if you're a homeowner who plans to hire a contractor for the majority of the work, DIY skills can still come in handy. Homes with old plumbing, old electrical work and other neglected or aging systems often need a variety of repairs. Typical repairs a home owner may need to perform include:

  • Fixing minor leaks (such as toilet leaks and faucet leaks)
  • Replacing fixtures (like light fixtures or faucets)
  • Painting (interior or exterior)
  • Carpet removal
  • HVAC maintenance (such as air filter replacement)
  • Door knob or door lock replacement
  • Yard work
  • Deck repair
  • Window repair (such as replacement of a cracked window pane)

Before buying a fixer upper, it's a good idea to evaluate your own DIY skills. Volunteering to help out a homeowner friend or relative with some home repairs can help you decide whether or not you comfortable with DIY work. Remember that a lot of DIY work is done by trial and error. Even without experience performing DIY projects, you should do well if you have the drive to learn. 

Get A Home Inspection

It's almost universally true that anyone thinking about buying a fixer upper property should not move forward without first getting a home inspection. A home inspection is a thorough property investigation that includes an examination of the plumbing, electrical system, roof, HVAC system and other parts of the house. 

Home buyers are encouraged to be present for the home inspection. A typical home inspector will answer questions about the house as the inspection proceeds. Good questions to ask of the home inspector include:

  • How would you repair this problem?
  • How long do you think this problem has been going on?
  • Would you buy a home that has this problem?

A good home inspector may also share little tips about maintaining various old systems. This can help take a lot of mystery out of property ownership and can help a home buyer decide if the property is right for their needs. 

While the inspection is taking place, remember that the best problems are cosmetic ones. Cosmetic problems can be fixed on a leisurely timeline, at the homeowner's own pace. Critical problems with the roof, electrical system or plumbing can be dangerous and expensive, and often require repairs to be done either before moving in or immediately after moving in. 

Review Your Budget

No doubt about it, a house can be very costly. On an annual basis, maintenance costs for a typical home may fall between 1 and 3 percent of the sale price of the house. For a fixer upper property, these costs may be much higher. Before making a purchase, it's important to decide how much the necessary repairs will cost and whether or not this money is available. 

After getting a good home inspection, get a rough estimate of the costs to repair the home by speaking with contractors and other repair professionals. To make a logical budget, these decisions must be made:

  • What needs to be repaired?
  • How much will it cost to make those repairs?
  • When do those repairs need to be made?
  • How much cash will be on hand after the house sale is finalized?
  • How much money can be borrowed for repairs?
  • On what schedule will the funds be available to make repairs?

Answering these simple questions can take time, and may require meeting with multiple contractors and bankers. Once the questions have been answered, you can decide whether or not the fixer upper property you're thinking about buying is a logical choice. 

Talk To Your Real Estate Professional

If you're thinking about buying a fixer upper, your real estate professional will be able to help you evaluate the condition of the properties you see. A good real estate professional can offer advice regarding home inspections and which homes are likely to fit within your budget. Additionally, an agent can help you zero in on great locations like Cochrane Heights. To find out more about buying a fixer upper property, or to get started, contact a reputable real estate professional today. 

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