Should You Buy a Fixer-Upper?

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Has watching shows such as HGTV’s Fixer Upper and Property Brothers given you the itch to buy an old home and fix it up? Although it might sound exciting, you should think carefully before jumping into a fixer-upper project. Here are some things to consider before buying a fixer-upper home.

Consider the cost

Taking on a fixer-upper often comes with some unexpected costs. You’ll have to make sure you’re prepared for the expenses that come along with rehabilitating a home. Some costs to consider are building permits and bathroom and kitchen upgrades. Depending on the condition of the home, you might also have to pay for a new roof and new electrical wiring and plumbing. A new roof could cost anywhere from $1,200 to $30,000, according to HomeAdvisor.

Take into account zoning laws

It’s great that a fixer-upper will allow you to turn a rundown house into your dream home, but there are a few hoops you’ll have to jump through if you plan on making major structural changes. Know that it will be necessary for you to acquire building permits if you decided to change the structure of the home. According to HomeAdvisor, a building permit will cost, on average, $1,075. However, some consumers pay as much as $4,000. Also know that you might not be able to make structural changes if the home is within a historic district.

Take a close look at what needs to be done

If the home needs mostly cosmetic upgrades, such as a new paint job and minor updates, you might want to go ahead and take advantage of buying a fixer-upper and saving the money you would have spent on a move-in ready home. However, if there are structural issues and major renovations will be needed, many real estate experts would recommend looking elsewhere. This is because most of the updates won’t be evident to potential buyers and you won’t get much, if any, return on your investment.

Consider the time

Do you know how to DIY? If you’re not a do-it-yourselfer, be prepared for an extended timeline and added costs. Unless you’re able to do some parts of the upgrades yourself, be aware that a fixer-upper renovation could take quite a bit of time to complete. Depending on the updates that need to be made, and your budget, it could take months or years to finish rehabilitating your home. However, if you’re OK the time commitment that it takes to move forward, proceed with the purchase.

Make sure you have a licensed home inspector

One critical step in making sure this is a smart purchase is hiring a licensed home inspector. The fixer-upper could appear on the outside to be everything you’re looking for but could turn out to be a nightmare in disguise. Have the home thoroughly inspected before you commit to making the purchase. An inspection will give you the information you need to decide if your investment is sound or if you should look at a different home.

Your real estate agent will likely offer names of a few home inspectors. Just make sure to speak to the inspectors directly and take time to research their qualifications and read online reviews. Furthermore, ask friends and family for recommendations. In addition, you can search for a home inspector on the American Society of Home Inspectors website.

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