If hours of binge-watching HGTV have sparked an interest in buying your own fixer-upper, it may be time for a quick reality check. Despite what network executives may want you to believe, renovating a fixer-upper is often much easier said than done; buying a home that needs serious work is, quite literally, a gamble, as there’s no definitive way to predict just how much you’ll end up spending. In fact, buying a fixer-upper may not be so budget-friendly in the long run after all.
8 Biggest Secrets About Buying Fixer-Uppers (That Reality TV Doesn’t Want You To Know):
1. It’s not always easy (or possible) to stay within your budget
When it comes to buying a fixer-upper, there’s just no telling what you’ll get yourself into. Aside from estimated remodeling costs, you may be responsible for additional expenses like correcting building code violations, resolving open permits, and even additional costs resulting from unpaid taxes.
While no homebuyer is safe from unexpected surprises, fixer-uppers are notoriously associated with unplanned expenses that can quickly spiral out of control.
2. You may not end up saving any money in the long run
On a related note, by the time you’ve finished making your fixer-upper habitable, you may not end up saving very much, if anything, at all. Don’t forget, aside from the cosmetic upgrades you’ll likely want to make, the home may require other serious expenses like HVAC system repairs or replacements, new appliances, mold remediatiation, or even pest control. These types of high-priority projects require immediate work and are not often cheap.
Even if you buy a fixer-upper at a low price, you actually could end up spending just as much in the end as if you had purchased a move-in ready home.
3. Between looking at homes for sale and renovating your fixer-upper, the entire process may easily take several months
After money, the resource you’ll need most if you’re buying a fixer-upper is patience.
Regardless of whether you hire a contractor or do it yourself, most home improvement projects just don’t get finished on time. Unfortunately, the more work your house requires, the more likely you are to fall behind schedule (and realistically, most fixer-uppers easily require at least 4-6 weeks’ worth of work).
4. Your projects won’t always be completed correctly on the first try
Be prepared to face setbacks. When it comes to large-scale projects, you can usually anticipate some margin of error.
Materials don’t always ship on time, and sometimes arrive with damage or in the wrong quantity. Certain projects require approval from the town, which may take days or weeks to receive. You might make mistakes as you’re working through a project and have to start over from the beginning.
There are countless ways that your remodel can get delayed. If you’re determined to buy a fixer-upper, first make sure you can handle extending your remodeling timeline as needed.
5. You may not actually be able to afford luxurious design features
As we discussed, the best way to approach a fixer-upper is with a conservative budget. Until you know for certain how much money the home will require, don’t expect to pour the money you saved by buying a fixer-upper into high-end flooring and custom features.
6. Buying a fixer-upper is not exactly the most responsible financial choice
If you’re thinking of buying a fixer-upper to avoid racking up debt with a large mortgage, make sure you crunch your numbers carefully. Depending on the scope of work that your fixer-upper requires, you may have no other option than to take out a home improvement loan. Even the cost of materials alone can add up much faster than you may expect!
Again, there’s no way to know with complete certainty just how much you’ll need to spend on remodeling projects, but keep this in mind as you’re calculating the overall cost of buying a home.
7. The end result may not look exactly like your “dream home”
As you begin your remodel and explore the home more carefully, you may find yourself altering your original plans in order to make room in budget for new projects that come up along the way. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t still create a beautiful home, but be prepared for the final product to be slightly different from what you envisioned initially.
8. Contractors aren’t always reliable
Possibly one of the most frustrating parts of owning a home is having to deal with unreliable contractors. Before you make the decision to buy a fixer-upper, spend some time researching contractors near you. The same goes for any other professional you intend to hire, whether that includes a plumber, electrician, landscaper, or any other type of specialist. Avoid wasting time and money on incompetent workers that you don’t trust!
Make Sure You Know What You’re Getting Into Before You Make Your Next Home Purchase!
There are so many pitfalls and “traps” involved in remodeling a home. I’ve seen patchwork jobs that individually looked ok, but viewed as a whole made the home look like a quilt of stitched-together projects. My best piece of advice would be to create a “road map” for the entire project and use a qualified, reliable contractor to complete the entire job at once or to complete it in phases that make sense. Financial restrictions will always be a factor, so plan the budget carefully, communicate with your project director, and listen to the professional advice.
Whether you’re a first time homebuyer, investing in real estate, or you’re moving to start a new job, you can never be too prepared when it comes to buying a property. If you’re looking to purchase a home in the Houston area, and are interested in the Uptown, Memorial, Galleria, or Tanglewood neighborhoods, please contact me today for assistance!
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