When you picture your ideal home, you probably imagine a nice open floor plan, updated kitchen and bathrooms and pristine finishes — not shag rugs, dated decor and choppy layouts.
One of the dilemmas that most home buyers face is whether to create a dream house by renovating a fixer-upper or springing for a turnkey property in move-in condition.
Buying a Fixer-Upper
Fixer-uppers are always worth considering if you can get one at a good price and if you understand what you’re getting yourself into. If you’re budget conscious, purchasing a house in need of TLC might be the best way to get a deal in your target neighborhood and unlock value on a property. For instance, you might be able to find a bargain house a few streets over from where new construction homes are selling for top dollar. Aside from price, these types of properties can have some other redeeming qualities. Older homes in particular may have unique details and character worth restoring. Sometimes you can find a dated home in a well-established neighborhood on an ideal lot with mature plantings. You may not be able to replicate these desirable features with a newer model home.
Before you pull the trigger on a house that needs renovating, you’ll want to get real about the impact that buying the home will have on you finances and your lifestyle.
First off, you can get a general idea of project costs by walking through the property with a few contractors to obtain quotes. One of the obstacles with buying a house that needs a rehab is how to finance the work when you don’t have the cash on hand. It’s not impossible to pull off, but it certainly adds some complexity. It will require more time, patience and attention to detail to get approved for financing. You’ll also need to discuss lending products with your loan officer to see if you qualify. The most popular programs are 203(k) loans, which can be used for a wide variety of home improvement projects. There are even options for buyers who are looking to pursue a low down payment and want to wrap the mortgage and renovation costs into a loan.
Financing may not be the only challenge. If you’ve spent any time watching HGTV rehab shows, you may have noticed a running theme — renovation surprises! Not every real-life rendition of a Fixer Upper episode is filled to the brim with drama, but most people who have lived through a major project will admit that there is stress. Any unexpected issues can chew away at your budget and delay completion. You have to be able to keep a level head during a time period with ups and downs.
Finding your diamond in the rough and having your vision come to life can be truly rewarding, especially for those who have the drive and grit to work through the process. But, we’re not all Chip and Joanna Gaines, and if a fixer-upper is not your cup of tea, that’s okay.