• Lori Greene

First-Time Homebuyer Tips - Tackling a Fixer-Upper


Photo via Pixabay


Article Contributed by Andy Hughes


Most of us have seen reality television shows where a couple invests in a fixer-upper for a bargain, only to discover one problem after another once they start working on it. It’s the risk we take when making an investment in an older home.


Even if the home is fully inspected and you think you have a good handle on how to make repairs and additions, issues can pop up once you start digging into a renovation.


Fortunately, there are several things you can do to cut down those costly surprises, and it all starts with finding the right fixer-upper and knowing what to look for.



Find the Right Home


There may be many fixer-uppers in your area, but only one will be perfect for you. It’s essential to find real estate comps (recently sold homes in your area comparable to the one you’re looking at) to see how much those houses sold for.


You can either hire an agent to help you out or look online at property records.


This will help you determine the fixer-upper’s approximate value, which will be a crucial step in sorting out a home loan and the various details that go along with it. Paying close attention to those details can help you get the best loan for your budget.


For instance, if you look into conventional loans, the interest rate varies from 3.249 % to 3.750 % between a 15-year and 30-year term.


If you secure the property for a low enough price, a 15-year rate can help you pay off your home more quickly.


Another important factor when considering value is whether or not you’re going to sell the home once it’s been renovated. If you are, think about hiring a professional real estate photographer to take some detailed photos of the property, which can help you get the best sale price.



Go with Manageable Projects First


Tackling the exterior of a fixer-upper can be overwhelming, so it’s best to come up with some manageable tasks first, such as adding curb appeal.


There are several affordable, relatively simple changes you can make to the front of your new home that will truly boost its aesthetic and monetary value, such as painting the front door or garage, adding new lighting fixtures, or changing up the landscape, to name a few.



Have the Right Tools on Hand


While some work on the home will have to be left to a professional, there are still plenty of DIY jobs to be done on a fixer-upper. Making sure you have the right tools is essential so you can get things repaired smoothly and correctly.


A good drill, a sander, and a jigsaw are perfect tools for home projects, and you don’t have to spend a ton of money to find quality items. Read reviews online to find the right tools for your needs and compare prices before making a purchase.


Keep in mind that if your fixer-upper has hardwood floors, they may require some love, as well as some additional tools, after suffering from rot or decay.


Determine first whether they need refinishing or recoating. Recoating just requires a protective layer to be added to the floors as-is, while refinishing requires sanding the wood down before adding a coating. Homeowners typically spend between $1,074 to $2,400 to refinish hardwood flooring.



Think Carefully About Design


Lots of things go into the design process in a new home, but it’s important to think about a few specifics before you get started, such as whether you’re going to stay in the home, sell it once it’s finished, or turn it into a rental.


Obviously, if you’re going to live in the home yourself, you’ll have a lot more freedom when it comes to design. For any other option, you’ll want to think carefully about your selections and renovation choices.


Think, too, about how you can save money on this part. A vacation rental, for instance, will see many tenants over the course of a year, so having a durable and safe design will be essential over aesthetics.


Tackling a fixer-upper is a big step, but if you’re committed to the process, there are several things you can do to ensure that it goes smoothly and won’t go over budget. With the help of some pros, you can turn your fixer-upper into a dream home.