Make Your First Fixer-Upper A Rewarding Experience 

Buying your first home is rarely an easy feat. It’s typically a lengthy process that requires smart decision-making and hard work. Buying a fixer-upper is no different, except it requires you to make more decisions and work even harder. While there are plenty of horror stories about houses that turn into time wasted and money lost, there are steps you can take to make buying your fixer-upper the rewarding experience it’s supposed to be.

Research properties in your area

Since most people don’t want to put in the time and effort to renovate a home, the market for fixer-uppers is usually less competitive. This means that you’re more likely to get a house for the price you want, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t need to do your research. It’s important to examine the market in your area for houses that are similar to your preferred size. For instance, the median listing price for a home in Raleigh, North Carolina, is $363,000. So if you’re hoping to find a fixer-upper with the potential for resale profit, or if you’re just looking for a house that will ultimately save you money, the sell price of the fixer-upper compared to that of similar move-in ready homes should be low enough to get you excited. And when you’re calculating the price differences, don’t forget to factor in potential repairs.

Decide on repair and design projects

If you’re a first-time buyer, you might tackle some of the repair and design projects yourself. There are things to consider that will make the experience worthwhile instead of leaving your head spinning and wondering why in the world you didn’t buy a move-in ready home. You need to decide which repair and design tasks are essential and which ones are preferred. If there’s a toilet missing in one of the bathrooms or a leak in the roof, it’s safe to say you should zero in on those tasks before anything else. But if you don’t really like how your dishwasher looks, even though it works perfectly well, you should probably hold off on replacing it until more dire changes have been made. 

DIY tasks are opportunities to learn new skills that you can use for the rest of your life. You want to be sure, however, that you’re actually saving money while you’re learning said skills. Look for cheap and creative ways to renovate. As a sure way to keep your budget in check, you may find it helpful to buy a gift card with a fixed amount at the hardware store and to use only that card for supplies. Also, don’t rule out professional help. If you don’t know how to fix your kitchen sink, hire a pro to repair it. Finally, budget for renting the appropriate power tools such as drills, sanders, jigsaws and anything else you need to make your project feasible.

Decide on whether to stay or sell

It’s good practice to know ahead of time whether you plan to stay or sell the home once it’s fixed. Even so, not knowing for certain shouldn’t keep you from capitalizing on a good find. Questions to ask yourself when you’re trying to decide:

  • Have I made this home my own? 
  • Am I happy with the area and neighborhood? 
  • Will I find a better place for a better price for this stage in my life? 
  • Would I still come out on top if I flipped the home? 

As recent as 2016, the average house flip profited $62,624. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy or risk-free. It’s relatively common for people to lose money on house flips when it’s all said and done. 

Researching the market and comparing prices properly will help you know which fixer-upper is the one for you. Deciding which repair and design projects are most important will help you prioritize your time and budget, while being creative and smart as you learn new skills will make your investment worth it. Whether you stay or sell, keeping these tips in mind will help you have a satisfying experience.

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