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Assessing the fix-up costs when buying a fixer-upper

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A model of a house and a set of keys.

If you are looking to buy a fixer-upper, you must know what to look out for! If you don't, you can easily end up drawn in by a house that appears, at first glance, perfect. The price would likely be affordable and entice you to buy it too. However, once you've got your hands on your new property, you could easily find the cost of getting in tip-top shape borderline ridiculous! In fact, the price of your new home could end up doubling compared to what you paid for it in the first place. To prevent such a thing from happening, join us for our guide on assessing the fix-up costs when buying a fixer-upper!

Find out about the history of the house

The very first thing you should do is find out what the age of the house is. If the place is old, especially if it exceeds fifty years in age, the chances are you will encounter a lot of things you need to fix. It means that you have to be thorough in inspecting the house, keeping an eye out for issues you cannot afford to ignore, especially asbestos pipe insulation. However, that's not the only thing you need to pay attention to! Look up the current situation of the house, especially whether all the bills have been paid and there are no debts tied to the property. If you fail to do this, you could very well end up inheriting debts you are not prepared to tackle in addition to all the other expenses.

An old, rundown house.
Do not be taken in by the potential of a house while disregarding the costs of making it beautiful!

Hire a house inspector

We’ve already mentioned the importance of being on the lookout for issues with your fixer-upper. However, doing so is not quite as simple as it seems. Some of the most common problems you can encounter require a professional eye to spot them! This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Mold
  • Faulty wiring
  • Roof condition
  • Presence of pests
  • Structural integrity

Not even mold is easy to spot and can often be purposely concealed. Therefore, assessing the fix-up costs when buying a fixer-upper can only really be done with the assistance of a house inspector, and hiring one saves you money in the long run. Your inspector will compile a list of everything wrong they have found with the house, with which you can then go on to decide whether you want to tackle fixing the house or pull out from the deal.

Faulty wiring exposed during an inspection.
Wiring can be particularly difficult to assess without professional knowledge.

Contact contractors to give you a cost estimate

Once you are armed with the list of issues and you have decided to buy the house, the next step is getting in touch with contractors! You shouldn't lightly pick a company to hire, and you should always ask for both referrals and check the online reviews if they have them available. In addition, you should pick out several different contractors and have all of them do a cost assessment on how much fixing your new house would cost you! This would let you strike a balance between cost and quality and allow you to find the right contractors for you. Some sellers will also allow you to do this before finalizing the sale, which can also help you decide whether you want that particular property with even more certainty.

Know the renovations you want to do

In addition to everything you must fix to ensure a quality life for you and your family in the new house, there are likely other projects you want to take on. You might want to modernize and improve the bathroom, redo the façade of your home, or even work to improve the air quality of your house. All of these things contribute to assessing the fix-up costs when buying a fixer-upper. If there are too many things you feel the need to change about your potential new home, then it is probably not the right property for you! The good news is, you can also get estimates for renovation costs, which means that you will know exactly how much money you would require. Just don’t forget to check the permit costs for the renovations you want to do, since most people forget to think about them beforehand.

Renovations in progress.
Do not get carried away with renovations, or you will lose money comparing to buying a brand new house!

Hire a good moving company

An expense most people fail to consider is moving into their new home. You might live a considerable distance away from your new property, and it can be costly to get your belongings to it. So, do not forget to account for this, and check the prices of various moving companies well in advance. Don't wait till the last minute to browse through online database and pick several moving companies that could suit your needs. Also, don't forget to check their online reviews. Then, after you have narrowed down your options, schedule a meeting with them and get moving estimates. That way, you will ensure you get the best value for your money.

Know what offer to make

Once you are aware of all the expenses related to purchasing the property, it is time to make an offer! Do not forget to sit down, write every cost we have discussed so far, and adequately evaluate the most reasonable price you can present to the seller. It is always helpful to hire a realtor since they will work with you and let you know whether they believe you are paying too much or making an unrealistically low bid.

Budget carefully

You should make sure you have enough money to fix up your home, offer a down payment, and do the renovations you want without emptying your account completely. To do this, you might have to take on a mortgage or a home improvement loan. You must be careful to negotiate good rates when doing so, or you would end up paying back far more money than you had borrowed! Always remember that you are actually placing your new home on the line in such cases and act carefully. In addition, do not forget to be realistic. Just because a property seems perfect, even comparatively cheap compared to others of its size, it is not the right property for you if you have to get yourself into massive debt to acquire it anyway!

Final Word

Shopping for a fixer-upper is exhausting and demanding work. Even if you can hire others to do most of the complicated work for you, there is still much to keep in mind if you want to find the best possible new home for you and your family. We hope that our guide on assessing the fix-up costs when buying a fixer-upper can help make the process at least a bit easier for you!