3 Tips for Fixer-Upper Homebuyers
By Kurt Real Estate May 29, 2020
Let’s face it — buying a home is stressful enough, but for first-time homebuyers, the process can be incredibly intimidating. From understanding the legal jargon (what exactly is escrow, anyway?) to keeping your hopes and dreams in line with your budget, first-time homebuyers have a pretty steep learning curve. Many novice house hunters are inspired by popular home renovation TV shows that make it seem like remodeling an entire house can easily happen in a weekend. Even though it takes a lot more time, sweat, and patience than TV shows might portray, buying, and renovating a fixer-upper has many benefits. Here are a few things you need to know if you’re considering planting roots in a fixer-upper home.
Fixer-uppers make high-end neighborhoods more affordable
You have your eye on a certain part of town, and nothing less than that zip code will do. We don’t blame you. Low crime rates, good schools, nearby parks and friendly neighbors can all factor in just as much as — and maybe even more than — the actual house you buy. That’s where a fixer-upper can save the day. If the average house in a highly sought-after neighborhood goes beyond your budget, look for houses that need extra work. Their price tag will be much lower, but keep in mind you’ll still need to plan carefully for how much you can afford to spend on a home based on factors like your credit score, down payment amount, and the current market APR. Keep in mind that homes in Newport Beach sold for around $2.14 million over the past 30 days. Additionally, don’t forget to consider how much you’ll need to put into the house when working out your home-buying budget!
If you’re overwhelmed with the process, don’t hesitate to seek out a real estate agent who can help you find the perfect fixer-upper for your budget. It’s very important to find someone who understands the market and that you feel comfortable with.
Fixer-uppers require tools and contractors
A fixer-upper that is structurally sound — meaning you can live in it just fine, but aesthetically, it could use a new face — is an ideal first house for homebuyers new to the scene. A house that needs significant electrical, roofing, or plumbing work might get too pricey for your budget or too complex for your skillset. If budget isn’t a concern, hiring contractors to create your unique vision can turn a house into a home pretty quickly.
If you’re planning on making most of the renovations yourself, consider renting or purchasing the right tools — everything from a power drill to a jigsaw — and taking a class or watching online DIY videos to shore up your carpentry skills. Consider also looking for a handyman to help you with work you’re unable to tackle, which can save you money by avoiding contractors who charge more.
Fixer-uppers require timelines and project management
Not every room is created equally. If the foyer is in desperate need of a new coat of paint and refinished floors, but the kitchen is so outdated you can’t use the stove, it makes much more sense to start in the room that will make the house flow more smoothly. The kitchen is one of the most common places to start making upgrades, followed by the bathroom. If you’re considering purchasing a fixer-upper, here are a few tips for project management:
Pick the areas of most urgent need first. It might be tempting to tackle the easiest tasks first, but remember, you have to live here. A working stove and a hot shower are much more important than peeling wallpaper.
Create a timeline for each project. Include milestones, budget estimates and a few inspirational images to help keep the project on track.
Get all the right permits from the city or county and permissions from homeowners associations before you get started.
Be realistic about what you can accomplish, and hire out help for what you know you can’t. Also, be realistic about the free time you have to commit to each project.
There is a great deal of emotional labor that goes into renovating a fixer-upper. It’s important that if you are purchasing this home with a partner or a spouse that you communicate openly and honestly during the entire process, and work hard on sharing the burden. Once you are able to open a bottle of wine and admire your handiwork, you’ll be glad you took your time.
Join our network
Keep up to date with the latest market trends and opportunities in Orange County.