Thinking of Buying a Fixer-Upper? Keep These Points in Mind

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Post from MilitaryByOwner

While out running errands, I mistakenly made a left turn instead of a right, landing in a neighborhood I had yet to explore. Passing along the quiet street, the alluring mix of architectural details and well-kept landscaping gave me a warm and inviting welcome and I couldn’t help but notice an older home with a “For Sale” sign out front.

Stepping out of my car to pick up a listing flyer, my mind swirled with remodeling ideas. Wouldn’t it be fun to spruce up a property in this idyllic location? If you’re shopping for a house, are you considering a place with renovation potential? Keep these points in mind before buying a fixer-upper.

Think of Your Timing

Before purchasing a roost in need of repair, you’ll need to mull over what type of home improvement projects you’ll actually enjoy doing. At an open house, it’s easy to come up with plans for cosmetic upgrades, such as

  • Painting a fresh color on the front door
  • Installing a new vanity mirror in the guest bath
  • Switching outdated kitchen cabinet handles for contemporary hardware

Changing up a handful of design elements can be far less labor intensive than, let’s say, taking out a wall to create an open concept layout. No matter if the charming traits of a quaint chateau are making you swoon, you’ll have to envision how much time you’ll need to refurbish your idyllic hermitage.

  • For instance, when Friday arrives after a long week at work, how do you feel about spending the bulk of your weekend making trips to the local home improvement store for “to do” list supplies?
  • What if the moment you embark on a major kitchen renovation project, a deployment comes along? Having a makeshift cookery set up in your living room and a revolving door of construction workers might annoy your spouse and family.

While scrolling through listings and binge-watching home improvement TV shows and YouTube videos, contemplate your realistic role in a remodeling effort.

Prepare Your Budget

You’ll need to estimate how much work you can do yourself and what you’ll need to hire out. When you PCS in, you’ll likely be moving to a location where you don’t have family or friends nearby to lend a helping hand. Without familiar connections in the local community, you’ll be taking a guess on which professional contractors to contact.

Make sure your budget is as flexible as an Olympic gymnast. You’ll need enough funds to cover whatever issues arise. For example, when a chimney sweep is tending to your fireplace, their inspection could also point out areas of dry rot on your roof.

By crunching your budget numbers now, you’ll be able to see how far your savings can stretch to pay for the surprise expenses that’ll inevitably come up.

Consider Financing Options

If you’re looking for financing options for a fixer-upper dream, you can apply for a renovation loan from the Department of Veterans Affairs to pair with your mortgage. To be eligible for this supplemental loan, your mortgage must be a VA Loan.

Another option for financing your remodeling goals is to peruse the FHA 203k program, which allows for borrowing an amount reflecting what the home will be worth after improvements are made. Discuss the details with your lender for reasonable payments with a 30-year plan.

Investigate Potential Issues

Before you dive into fixing up real estate, try to find out as much as you can about the condition of the dwelling. When doing a walk-through, keep in mind the pros and cons of each household feature, such as:

  • Does the groovy 1960’s era wood paneling hide cracks in the walls?
  • Is the non-working light in the hallway a dead bulb or a sign of a greater electrical wiring problem?
  • Will the existing sump pump keep your basement from flooding during times of monsoon rain?

Prior to placing a serious offer, it’s in your best interest to arrange for a home inspection to reveal any critical issues. The results of the inspection will spotlight areas of concern and give you a gauge of the extent of your imminent repairs.

When searching for your next place and thinking of a fixer-upper, take a good look at what is worth your time and money. Chat with homeowners with recent renovation experiences and schedule a consult with your lender. Gathering insight from others and researching repair projects ahead of time can help prepare you for your remodeling adventure ahead.

Does buying a home with renovation in mind appeal to you? Leave a comment and share your thoughts on this topic!

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