Buying a fixer-upper can be very exciting but also a little bit scary, especially if you’re a first-time homeowner. On the one hand, a fixer-upper gives you the opportunity to create the house of your dreams. Of course, a lot can go wrong if you do not choose your house correctly or perform the right projects in the correct manner. To get you started on this journey, here is a quick run-down of the process of buying and fixing up a fixer-upper.
The Buying Process
The very first step to transforming a fixer-upper into your dream home is to find a fixer-upper. Finding a fixer-upper is not much different from finding any other house. You can either search the internet and local listings or you can hire a real estate agent to do the legwork for you. You will probably have the most luck by focusing on the foreclosure ads. These listings usually contain more run-down homes that might be a steal for someone looking for a fixer-upper. Foreclosure auctions can be somewhat confusing if you have not attended one before, so we suggest reading up on them before running out the door.
You should also take the time to calculate how much money you can spend on your home. Be sure to take into account the down payment, monthly spending, loan type, and current average APR and compare these averages against your annual income. This will give you a good estimate as to how much you can spend. Since buying a fixer-upper usually requires putting a decent amount of money into the home after you buy it, take that into account as well.
What Projects to Tackle First
So, you’ve bought a fixer-upper and you have high hopes! Now it’s time to tackle that actually “fixing” part. We recommend tackling projects that make the house safer and more livable first. Old, rusty pipes? Consider replacing them altogether, especially if they are lead or polybutylene. Is the electrical acting up? Hire an electrician to ensure that the job gets done correctly. You should also consider addressing the HVAC system before you get started on anything else; that way, you’ll have a nice environment to do your work in. Just keep in mind that you may end up shelling out between $163 and $548 on average to get it in tip-top shape.
After these major projects are out of the way, it’s time to start on projects that are required to make the house livable. If you don’t have the floor, it’s time to get one laid down. No appliances or showers? You should add those in as soon as you are able. Make the house livable before focusing on aesthetic repairs so that you can move in and stop paying rent. Also, consider picking up some tools — drills, saws, etc. — to help you with these DIY projects.
To Stay or Go?
This can be an extremely tough question, even if you’ve planned to stay in your fixer-upper the whole time. The promise of a big paycheck can quickly make you question if you should instead sell your home. First, consider whether you have the endurance to fix up another home. Home repairs can take a long time, and living in a barely functioning house can wear anyone down. Plus, according to U.S. News, selling a home can take a long time. If not, don’t sweat not selling your home and starting all over. Enjoy what you’ve accomplished!
If you do want to sell your home, find a good realtor, preferably one that specializes in selling fixer-uppers. Fixer-uppers can sometimes scare off potential buyers if they learn the past state of the home. Figuring out that the home was once in shambles can make them feel unsure and worried about potential problems that might pop up. A realtor should be able to calm these fears and can be a true asset in selling your home.
Fixing a fixer-upper is exciting, worrying, and time-consuming. Partner with some world-class experts and follow your heart when it comes to design choices. It is bound to be an exciting ride!
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