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A Beginner’s Guide to Buying a Fixer-Upper Home

When browsing for a future home, you may be wondering if you should invest in a fixer-upper. A fixer-upper home is often discounted at an affordable rate but may require some renovations and heavy maintenance. It’s important to determine what type of renovations the fixer-upper may need and how much you’re willing to spend on such renovations. Below is a brief guide on what to look for when purchasing a fixer-upper home.


A fixer-upper home is likely to come with a few much-needed repairs, which may put a dent in your wallet. It’s important to distinguish which repairs are cost-effective and which ones may be too expensive. Below are some repairs that are both easy to fix and affordable:

  • A new paint job

  • Changing out lights and switches

  • Replacing doors, knobs, and handles

  • Replacing subfloors

  • Fixing cracked or broken windows

  • Adding fillers to nail holes and baseboards

  • Patching walls

Not all repairs are affordable. Here is a list of fixes that may be worth reconsidering buying a fixer-upper:

  • Kitchen and bathroom overhauls

  • Building a new garage

  • Replacing sewer and electrical lines

  • Adding a new roof

  • Adding concrete for sidewalks and driveways

  • Adding a central air unit

Prioritizing which design projects to tackle first comes down to several factors, including:

  • Time

  • Money

  • How many people are available to assist you

  • Required tools and equipment

Some buyers like to prioritize the more difficult and expensive projects first, while others want to tackle the easy repairs first. Typically, it’s best to prioritize repairs and renovations that are of greater importance before moving on to less-urgent tasks.

What to Inspect in a Fixer-Upper

If you don’t know what to look for when buying a fixer-upper, consider hiring a professional such as a home inspector. Home inspectors conduct detailed reports of needed repairs and maintenance within a home. Below are some things that you, or a home inspector, should look for:

  • Structural issues

  • Outdated electrical wiring

  • Foundation problems

  • Sewer line inspections

  • Disclosures regarding natural hazards

  • Contamination

  • Landslides

  • Pest inspections

  • Beetles

  • Termites

  • Ants

  • Cockroaches

  • Root certifications

Home inspectors also verify the square footage of a home, the condition of heat and air units and the stability of soil.

After Renovations: Should You Stay or Sell Your Home?

To stay or sell a home after renovating comes down to several factors. It’s important to ask yourself the following questions before making such a big decision:

  • Can you afford to buy a new house?

  • Are you too far away from school or work?

  • Is your location and/or neighborhood a threat or unsafe place to live in?

  • Is your home too crowded for your family?

  • Are you handy with repairs? (You may not need to move if you can fix home-related repairs yourself)

It’s important to not only consider money in this situation but also the well-being of yourself, your family, your safety, and your career.

How to Estimate Your Home Affordability

Home affordability can be easily calculated through online calculators or by hiring a private real estate residential appraiser. Before getting the results you need, it’s important to take note of some requested information. These include factors such as current average APR, down payment, annual income, loan type, and monthly spending, amongst other factors. Most online calculators also generate a full report for you, as well as provide home price and monthly payment information.

Buying a fixer-upper doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Consider which repairs need to be done and how much they might cost. If the cost of repairing a fixer-upper is too great, it may be time to think about purchasing a finished home instead. These two options can be decided by hiring home inspectors and using a variety of online resources.

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