The vast majority of buyers today looking at a Windsor property want a home that is move-in ready. With busy and hectic work schedules, many family activities and little to no free time, buyers don’t want to take on the added responsibility and commitment of making updates or repairs. However, many buyers are now wondering if homes that they would have never considered, might now look more appealing if the price is right.
For the most part, buying a fixer upper is rarely anyone’s choice when buying a home. Unless you are a person that enjoys doing that sort of thing, and most buyers aren’t, buying a home that needs work can usually mean you are getting a good price. But keep in mind that not all fixer-uppers are good deals. In fact, stay away from homes that have the following problems:
1. Mold. If you suspect mold issues in a home, make sure the home is inspected carefully. Mold inside a home could mean extensive repairs, such as costly plumbing and drywall replacement. Mold on the exterior of a home could mean a number of things, such as poor drainage. This may require expensive grading.
2. Foundations problems: If a home inspection says that a foundation has problems, I can assure you that this is a costly repair. And most, if not all, lenders will require that this be fixed before they issue a loan.
3. Lousy floor plan: Homes that have a bad floor plan, such as cramped hallways, closed off family rooms, small kitchens with low ceilings or bad access to bedrooms, laundry rooms or backyard, often mean that major home renovations are necessary. This can take a long time, especially if you don’t currently have the budget, and tensions often rise when a person is frustrated with their living quarters.
4. Bad roof: If a seller will not fix their roof, you will have to do so. This costs thousands of dollars to replace. Work with your real estate agent to see what negotiations you can do if you want to buy a home with a bad roof. There are many options a buyer has if an inspection turns up with a leaky old roof.
5. Ancient electrical system: With older homes, inspections can often turn up with faulty wiring and electrical panels. This can cause an electrical fire. To correct this problem is costly but it really must be done. Again, work with your real estate agent to see if the seller will repair.
But if you are still thinking about a fixer upper that requires lots of work, then it’s important to do your homework. For example, if you have major repairs, are you prepared to live in another home or apartment until the house is ready? Are you prepared for the unexpected? Always count that costs will go higher than expected and time delays are the norm rather than the exception.
Walk around with a contractor or architect prior to making an offer on a fixer upper. Get an estimated budget (again, final costs will increase. It’s rare to hear of a home remodeling project that came in under budget), and time frame. Consider prioritizing your projects and don’t feel that it is necessary to tackle them all at once unless of course, you are dealing with a serious health or safety issue.
Finally, keep in mind that home inspections may not turn up all that is wrong with a property. There is a very good chance that when your contractor is in the middle of a project, that something else wrong is discovered. Usually, these sudden findings are costly, so it’s important to have an emergency fund to deal with these unexpected issues. The last thing you want to have happen is to be in the middle of a huge kitchen remodel and find out that a bearing wall needs to come down due to some unexpected reason. Again, patience is the key when updating and remodeling, so ask yourself if you are ready and willing for a roller coaster ride.
Buyers often think they can take on an extensive project on a fixer upper as they feel it is the only way they can afford to buy a home. The beauty of buying such a home is that you have the opportunity to truly create a property that you really want. And chances are, if done correctly, you will get back much of what you put into a home should you decide to sell down the line. While fixer uppers aren’t for everyone, if you sincerely think it’s for you, talk to your real estate agent to discuss further.