BlogBuyersFirst-Time Home BuyersNeed More Space August 16, 2017

Fixer-Upper Homes: What to Look For

fixer uppers what to look for


Fixer-uppers appeal to a wide variety of homebuyers—investors looking to cash in, first-timers hoping to score a bargain, and ambitious DIY-ers looking for their next project.  The hunt is half the fun when buying your next home, but there a few key things to keep in mind when considering properties that may need a little more love.

Pretty Is As Pretty Does

Don’t get too attached to a property because of it’s appearance. As easy as it is to overlook a home for cosmetic defects, it’s just as easy to let a pretty staircase or original hardwood floors distract you from more serious problems. Try to evaluate the house based on structural issues and the state of it’s major systems first!

Location, Location, Location

Everybody knows the old adage but it’s especially true for fixer-upper properties. No amount of time, work, or money can change a home’s location.  A good way to evaluate a home’s neighborhood is to visit the area multiple times at various hours. You’ll be able to better discern the local culture and neighborhood activity from multiple visits than just the snapshot you’ll see from a showing.

fixer-upper home renovation - old flat during renovation - vintage filter

How Much Is This Really Going To Cost?

Look for properties with sound structural components and foundation. An appealing floor plan with minimal remodeling necessary is going to give you the best return on investment. Cosmetic fixes like new paint, lighting fixtures and flooring are generally cheap and usually DIY-friendly projects.

Structural issues, plumbing and electrical fixes are much more difficult and expensive. Unless you’re great friends with an experienced contractor or have plenty of money to invest in the home, it’s best to steer clear of homes needing more extensive renovation and structural alterations.

Consult a Pro

Even if you’re planning on DIY-ing every little part of your home’s remodel, it’s always wise to have the number of an experienced general contractor in your pocket in case you get in over your head! They will be able to help you understand how much work (and how much money!) a particular home will require to bring it up to code or drastically remodel it.

If you know you’ll be contracting out at least some of the work, it would be extremely helpful to have your contractor visit  potential properties with you to give you an estimate. This information will be invaluable to you when you’re deciding between various properties.

Fixer-upper Home renovation remodeling and DIY concept work tools and tablet composing a house shape on the grass

Age Isn’t Always Just a Number

Keep in mind that homes over 50 years old are likely to have similarly aged plumbing, electrical, heating, and other systems. The home may also be too outdated or have too many code violations to be a sound investment. Will you be able to recoup all the costs you’ll have to put into the home when you sell?

Ask Your Realtor

Your local Realtor can be an invaluable resource, particularly if you’re new to fixer-upper properties. They see tons of homes a day and are intimately familiar with the various neighborhoods in their area. Not only will they be able to help you identify homes that have potential, they’ll be able to to give you great ideas about how to increase the property’s value after closing and recommend reliable contractors! Whether you’re still in the dreaming phase or looking to make an offer, talk to any of our awesome Coldwell Banker Elite agents for more information on potential fixer-upper properties.