When buying real estate, there is a saying: Location, location, location. It is true for fixer uppers as well. You may be buying a cheap house but you definitely want it to be in a well established neighborhood, mostly occupied by homeowners. Being close to amenities is also desirable.
When you are buying the property, unless you are looking for a long term rental investment, it is always best to look for a house which is similarly built to the majority of other houses. Normally three bedroom 2 bathroom houses between 1400 and 2000 square feet size are the most common types. If the property is larger, it will be harder to sell because of its price being higher than other houses. If it is smaller, it will not appeal to the average size families.
Once you made your mind up about the location and the structure of the house and you decided to go with a fixer upper, you need to look for something that will give you the best bang for your buck. What this means is, you need to look for a property which may look dilapidated but most, if not all shortcomings of the property are just cosmetic problems.
Problems with paint, flooring, kitchen cabinets and countertops, older appliances, windows, neglected landscaping, outdated faucets, etc. are problems which are relatively easy to fix and once fixed, will make the place look like a new construction.
Most homeowners are capable of painting the walls themselves and all it takes to do is a few basic painting supplies , like rollers, brushes, paint trays and a few gallons of quality paint. There is nothing like walking into a house with a fresh coat of paint.
In a fixer upper property, flooring is the most neglected part of the house most of the time. Especially if the house is coming from being a rental for a long time, you know the tenants have paid no attention and the place will look like you are walking into a war zone when you step into it. But, don’t let your heart be troubled. Flooring is relatively cheap to replace. You just need to decide if you want fresh carpet or some other type of hard surface as your floors and the installers can knock this project out in a few days.
Kitchen Cabinets, Countertops and Appliances
For any average sized kitchen nowadays, if you go with a budget conscious contractor,replacing cabinets, putting a new countertop and modernizing the appliances doesn’t take any more than $10,000 to $15,000 depending on the type of material you chose. If you are considering selling this house in the near future or even flipping it as soon as it is fixed up, you know that it is the selling point for any family considering to buy the place. So, your investment usually comes back to you at the time of sale fully, if not above what you spend on it.
If the window frames are structurally sound, replacing a few pieces of cracked glass or a torn screen is not a big cost. A glass replacement specialist can do the work in a day or two. Also a screen replacement company can fix your torn screens in no time at all. And after all is said and done, the curb appeal of your property will definitely increase.
Going with the curb appeal concept, landscaping is the next best thing you can do on the cheap side. Again, a fixer upper house is most probably lived in by occupants, who were not very attentive to the looks of the property, let this be negligent home owners or tenants. And the Yard will show the most of this neglect to the passers by. Landscaping work is usually hard work. It is best if the buyer uses a landscaping contractor or a gardener to do the heavy lifting. Most likely a good clean up, fixing a malfunctioning irrigation system, putting some sod and planting some annual colorful flowers around the yard will scream “curb appeal” more than anything else.
Fixing Outdated Faucets
As much as this doesn’t seem like a big deal, a buyer will definitely want to see the water flow in the kitchen and bathrooms. Avoiding this expense and giving a reason to the buyers to walk away is not in your best interest. Fixtures are cheap and plumbers do not cost an arm and a leg to replace them. One should seriously consider doing this.Not all fixer uppers are equal of course. Not every shortcoming in a fixer upper is just a cosmetic one.
How To Avoid Buying A Money Pit
Extremely low pricing is a trick some sellers employ. They put the property out to the market at a much lower price point than otherwise comparable houses around but they refuse to cooperate with the buyer for inspections. When you buy a house without getting it inspected by a licensed house inspector, expect to dump a lot of money into it. Foundation problems, issues with the roof, wood rot in the structural components, termite damage, plumbing issues, problems with heating and cooling systems are few things that cross the mind, which will take a lot of money to fix. The money you saved by buying a fixer upper, will be dwarfed by the money you will spend on repairs.
Another thing that no one notices while buying a fixer upper is the windows. From the outside or even from the inside,everything might seem quite alright. But it is in the buyers best interest to rent or buy a thermal scanning camera and scan the window frame edges and closing points. It might be cheap to hire a screen replacement company to fix the ripped screens but when you are talking about replacing windows, especially with double pane insulated glass vinyl frames, you are talking about serious money.
There are some other things you need to consider before buying a fixer. Consider that you will be paying property taxes, utilities, homeowners insurance as son as you sign the papers and take possession of the house, even if you will not be able to live in it, until the renovations are done. Talking about the renovations, you need to consider you will have to live elsewhere and pay rent or pay for hotel rooms, while the renovation is going on. These are all hidden costs that no one considers, until it is too late.
Also, it is a good idea to work with dependable contractors, instead of hiring someone passing by the yard. Every day you live elsewhere because the contractor could not follow up with his schedule is an extra expense you are facing
Buying a fixer upper can be a very rewarding experience if you have a keen eye for detail and know how to recognize problems with a structure. If you are going into it blindfolded, just because you think you scored a cheap property, you might be biting something bigger than you chew. It definitely is not everyone’s cup of tea!.