How You Can Buy Your Your First Fixer Upper This Year
Real Estate is always in high demand, but when the overall housing market goes up, it’s even more difficult to find a lower priced property. You can jump in on the real estate market and buy a fixer-upper home to make money off the renovations. If you look at preparing a house as an investment, it can pay off faster than buying a move-in-ready home.
Luckily for you, we’ve got you a guide on how you can buy your first fixer-upper this year!
Buying a fixer-upper isn’t certain to save you money. You need to do research on the house and bid competitively in order to get the best deal possible. Next, compare the estimated costs with what it will later be worth, so that you know you’re getting a good investment.
Buying a fixer-upper is a different decision than buying a home the first try, but with the right information, you can make a wise purchase. Figure out how much you can expect to make on the house after it’s fixed up, and compare that to how much is it going to cost you.
Even if you are buying a house, many of the steps of this process are the same. It’s imperative that you get yourself into a property in the right condition and at the right price–starting with getting your first fixer upper started.
1.Know What to Look For.
There are a lot of things you can fix up on a fixer-upper home. Try fixing those cosmetic problems first and then move on to more urgent repair needs such as structural issues, bad sewage smell, infested attic space, or something else.
Cosmetic improvements are easy, cheap and often make a big, obvious difference that could put your house back on the market within weeks. You’ve now brought top dollar from buyers. Plus implementing these changes might earn you bonus points with lenders.
Yet many houses can be brought to market with a basic makeover and a more appealing appearance. These small-scale fixes can provide significant returns, creating future value for those interested in selling their homes.
You can’t always fix everything on home improvement projects as old problems sometimes hit new homes as well. However, if your house features quirky floor plans or larger malfunctions, like gas leaks or a faulty electrical network, you may have to spend more money than you planned on buying repairs.
Whether you’re looking to avoid certain markets, or just areas where housing is super expensive, there are a lot of different problems that can come up when buying a house. However, these problems can be solved by mapping out the most important aspects of the ideal neighborhood and finding properties that fit that criteria in the market you want.
In lower-valued neighborhoods, you will have a difficult time generating the same return on investment for renovation costs that are typical in more expensive locations. Buyers often won’t go for houses worth just $400,000 on a street full of homes worth much less than that. If they have $400,000 to spend, they want to live among other homes worth $400,000 or more.
When shopping for a fixer-upper, to maximize your chances of finding “the worst home in the best neighborhood,” a good rule of thumb is to buy houses included in neighborhoods with high median household incomes and very low vacancy rates. On average, homes priced 16 percent below the area’s median price were selling before they were even listed.
When it’s time to invest in a real estate property, check out this house before you commit. If you think it’s worth the investment, then buy to fix up or flip later.
If a fixer upper with big-picture problems is priced at $50,000, it could still be a good deal. A house with problems that need $80,000 of work only costs the homebuyer $130,000 total — which is a great price in most areas. If you’re willing to take on the task and reap the benefits, now’s your chance.
2. Get an Inspection — or Several
Just because an old home is structurally sound doesn’t necessarily mean that the kitchen cabinets are in good shape, especially if you don’t use them often and aren’t sure where they are. Even if there isn’t a visible part of the house that might need remodeling, it pays to get a professional home inspection to know for sure.
Your first home inspection will only scratch the surface of issues at all depths. With a team who has highly specialized skills in their field, including some homeowners themselves, we can help highlight areas such as water damage, faulty wiring, and an inadequate HVAC system.
However, home inspectors can test for some hazards and tell you about them. They also help determine the cost of a fix and how long fixing/remodeling projects will take.
Many home inspectors will offer inspections similar to the standard inspection but for an upfront cost. Some options could include termite and/or radon, or gas leakage and plumbing inspections. In an instance:
- A home inspection service detects potential damage from insects
- A sewer line scope and septic tank inspection tells you if these systems need repair or replacement.
- With thermal imaging, you can see these problems without a need for expensive repairs.
- With a structural inspection, made by a structural engineer, ensuring the foundation, joists, beams and other load bearing structures are in sound condition.
- In homes that use well water, a well inspection tells you if the water supply is safe and adequate.
In general, Home inspectors regularly charge anywhere between $350 and $700 for a small structural inspection. Out-of-pocket costs are cheaper for large projects such as remodels, but the initial cost of hiring a home inspector can be enough to break your budget.
3. Estimate the Cost of Renovations
You’ve bought your first fixer upper, but now you need to figure out how much it will cost to make the place livable. You want to know the costs of different structural repairs, window replacements, and install a new sink so that your faucet doesn’t turn on once when you want hot water every time. You might also want to bring your lawn to a manicured state or paint the exterior for aesthetic purposes.
Your next job is to figure out the cost of all these repairs.
First, Estimate the DIY Costs.
If you’re looking to purchase a side project this year, you can use our step-by-step guidance and tutorials to help you get your first fixer-upper under lock and key. In addition to useful info on the tasks that might be too intimidating for beginners but present no problem for a DIYer.
For DIY projects, estimate the cost by checking home stores and websites to find prices for the supplies you’ll need. Other costs such as permits should also be estimated.
Second, Check With Contractors
While DIY projects are a ton of fun and allow you to spend less money on construction materials, properties and the building process, certain jobs are too dangerous for an amateur. You may find that your roof is beyond repair with few resources available; this is when taking on such projects professionals can save you a lot of trouble.
Start looking into finding a good contractor to do a walk-through of the house and give you a quote on all the repairs you are not planning to do yourself. You can also use sites like HomeAdvisor to get quotes from local contractors. Get a written estimate on each job before you make an offer.
Home financing can be quite the hassle and with so many options, it’s not always easy for first-timers to know what to expect. To calculate repair costs, remember to factor in home appraisals that come with certain loan finances, such as FHA 203(k) and CHOICERenovation loans (discussed below). These appraisals protect both the lender and the buyer by ensuring that the value of the renovated home is on par with what was promised.
Third, Calculate the Total
Add together your contractor’s estimate, your DIY shopping costs, and the costs of any necessary appraisals. This will give you a rough-estimated total cost without considering rent or unforeseen expenses.
If you can plan wisely, you can easily afford your first fixer upper. Prepare yourself with an unexpected budget-friendly emergency fund. From there, you can buy your first house and have funds left over to tackle small fixes as they become necessary.
Just because you can afford to fix some things for your home, doesn’t mean that you should. Rather than tossing all of your energy into buying a new fun activity with the rest of your cash, prioritize the repairs and upgrades needed. Focus on those that both deliver the most real value and produce lasting memories once the house is all fixed up.
4. Estimate the Carrying Cost.
The carrying cost for houses is the amount it costs to own a house as you’re fixing it up. It’s likely that many people won’t want to leave their property to search for another rental.
If you’re planning to flip a house, renovations aren’t the only expenses you need to worry about. You also have to consider the carrying cost that keeps stepping down as you fix your house. Renting this property can be expensive and it will take awhile before the market gets healthier.
Carrying costs eat into your profits. Every month you own the house is another month it’s costing you money instead of making you money.
Now, Plan a Timeline
Knowing the length of time needed to renovate a home before selling it is essential, as that duration will dictate how many months you need to spend on repairs before you can turn it around and sell it.
When you talk to contractors about price as well time, there should be estimates for both. Online searches should help you estimate general project names and the time needed for completion. Take into account surcharges and material costs when estimating your expenses on a DIY repair .
Next, Estimate Monthly Expenses
Depending on what your plan entails, you might be able to afford the down payment for a fixer-upper when selling your existing home. Factor in other costs, too, such as:
- Property taxes
- Utility bills
- Time you take off from your job to work on the house or meet with contractors
- Care for your kids or pets while you’re working on the house
And lastly, Think About Where You’ll Live
With a minimal budget and potential savings on utilities, you have the opportunity to last longer in a fixer upper. With that budget, you can purchase all of the essential services needed for an extended stay including good heat, drinking water, and at least one functional bathroom.
If you’re buying a fixer-upper to turn into a home, it is best that you live in the house while the work improves. Put down an initial deposit to cover rent and utilities, but still buy using cash, so you don’t incur interest expenses like traditional bank loans would.
When you start fixing-up your first fixer-upper, there’s always extra expenses in the works. For starters, you’ll need to pay extra for meals because you don’t want to break any nearby furniture or spend a fortune on lunch.
Even if you can buy your fixer upper this year, plan for the costs that may come up due to issues with prior neglect, damage, and being outside of warranty.
5. Estimate the After-Renovation Value (ARV)
Now that you know your ARV, the last number you need when buying your fixer-upper is just one more piece of information: the cost per square foot of remodeling.
If you’re confident about estimating what your home could be worth once it’s fixed up, use “comps” to estimate the ARV of a comparable home that recently has sold. The average price people are paying for these similar properties is a good starting point.
In order to get the best price, consult a real-estate agent to see how comparable buildings have sold in the area. To determine the value of the property, use sites like Zillow and Redfin.
Not only do buyers of refurbished fixers now have access to more detailed information about the property’s value than ever before, their bedroom is also much more habitable. ARVs calculated by online tools like Trulia can be challenging for cash-strapped flippers. With this number, you can figure out how much profit you can expect to make on your fixer-upper.
The percentage of purchase price covered by home repairs is a pivotal metric for house hunters. If the ARV is more than a third of the cost of renovations, make sure the house has plenty of room to grow over time. The higher the percentage, the better deal you’re going to be getting on your new property.
Make sure the asking price is within your budget by offering less for the renovation. Customizing and other additions will often push that on-paper value closer to the ARV, so it’s worth doing a little research before heading out to scout.
If the seller is hard to convince to take the lower offer, showing your calculations for how much it will cost to put the house back in shape can help prove that your offer is reasonable. Offering cash up front instead of help with repairs is another way to sweeten the deal.
6. Review Your Financing Options
At this point, you have a good idea how much the repairs on your fixer-upper will cost. And chances are, you don’t have enough cash saved up to cover all of them. So, you’ll need some kind of loan to pay for the repairs, as well as for the house itself. A glut of home economists developed new investment tools that lower the cost just in time for the holidays.
Instead, if you want to sink as much money into your first fixer upper as possible, yet afford also to have a mortgage on other debts, you may consider financing the conversion with a home equity loan. This way you’re borrowing against your home’s value and can use mainly a credit card for renovations–if the expense isn’t too high.
For those creatives that want to increase their value and make more money no need to spend time in the attic, we recommend homeowners shopping for renovation loans rather than refinancing. There are several types of loan that could meet both personal and financial needs with a little bit of upfront investment.
When it comes to buying your first fixer-upper, an FHA 203(k) can help get you started without the project taking too much money out of your pocket. An FHA 203(k) comes with several advantages including a low down payment, qualified applicants with small credit histories and a more flexible loan underwriting process than other mortgages.
With a FHA 203(k) loan, you can buy a fixer upper without breaking the bank. These loans, with down-payments as low as 10%, are much easier to get than other mortgages. You can get one with a credit score as low as 500. If your credit is at least 580, it can be as low as 3.5%
However, these loans also come with some restrictions:
- You can only acquire one on your primary residence.
- All renovations must be done by a contractor, not DIY.
- For most loans that cover a home project, you must also work with a consultant from the government’s Department of Housing and Urban Development. You work with your consultant to create plans for your new property, manage contractor payments and negotiate policies with your property as you proceed through the progress of the project..
- Unlike with new construction, home repairs can provide tax benefits as long as you make an amount worth of room updates. Fixers up lets people get their hands on the loan by visiting its website and filling out the application.
- You must carry FHA mortgage insurance on the home.
- The total loan amount is subject to FHA loan limits, which vary by county.
Buying a fixer-upper home can be a great way to break into the real estate market when prices are high. But it’s not a decision to make lightly. Refine your search for your dream lot before signing on the dotted line but keep it realistic by understanding what’s important in finding a fixer-upper home.
Whether you’re ready to be a homeowner or not, consider what it would cost to buy your first fixer-upper. When buying a home that requires plenty of DIY work even the simplest tasks can become complicated, especially expensive.
Before you avoid a life of contracting in these hot weather, think about your finances. If you don’t have enough money, think carefully about whether to take on a fixer-upper or not. Consider the environment and how it will affect everyone in your home. And don’t worry yourself with the hassles of living in construction those first few months!
If you truly want to buy a fixer-upper and avoid surprises, proceed with caution. You don’t want to find yourself in a home you can’t afford to repair because it was the wrong purchase and you rushed into buying it without taking the step back first.
Know that your purchase contract isn’t made until you’ve secured a home loan. In addition, make sure to include an inspection clause so as long as there’s the chance to do more research before the appraisal is finalized, you can back out..
Buying a fixer-upper can be risky business, but if it’s the home of your dreams, it could pay off big time. The key is to look for things that are cheaper than standard features. With lower priced features, like replacement windows and better insulation, you get more bang for your buck.
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