What First-Time Buyers Should Know About Fixer-Uppers

What First-Time Buyers Should Know About Fixer-Uppers
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    People spend years saving their money and dreaming about buying their next home.

    Whether you're about to buy your first house or you're looking for an upgraded home with different features, there are many options to consider.


It’s easy to feel overwhelmed as you tour open houses and scroll through posts online, which is when you might start to think about buying a fixer-upper.

Homes that need a little extra love come at a more affordable price than finished properties. The discounted price tag draws in many first-time buyers and people on a tight budget, but it’s intimidating to consider jumping into. You may not know the first thing about renovating a home or even where to start.

Before you make your final offer, read about what first-time buyers should know about fixer-uppers. It may change how you look at potential homes or encourage you to make this big step into the next chapter of your life.

1. Discounts Don’t Last Long

Bad credit scores, high market prices and limited home options keep people from moving into their dream house. That’s usually when fixer-uppers look appealing, but you have to think about the long-term costs.

Depending on how much work your home needs, you may blow through the money you saved by getting it at a discounted price. If you don’t have extra money saved away for future renovations, don’t risk going into debt to finish a home you bought on the cheap.

2. Renovations Last a Long Time

Imagine calling a contractor to replace the roof on your home after you move in. They give you a quote that fits in your budget and estimate it will only take two days to finish. You sign on the dotted line and the work begins, only for the work to stretch out into a month-long project.

It’s easy for homeowners to make common renovation mistakes, especially when they don’t set a timeline with contractors. Make sure everyone’s on the same page about when the work should finish, since most projects last a while and could become delayed by weather or shipping out supplies.

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3. Special Loans Are Available

You’ll need to consider many options when it comes to paying for your future house, but you should look into special loans designed for people looking to buy and renovate.

If you have a lower income or dipping credit score, you may be eligible for an FHA 203(k) loan. Vets can contact the Department of Veterans Affairs for a loan along with a VA-approved contractor. Even if you think you might not qualify for specialized loans, looking into it could change how you pay for your fixer-upper.

4. Contact Previous Contractors

Before you sign the paperwork and let the previous homeowners head out into the world, talk with them about any contractors who have worked on their house before. If the former owners paid for renovations, those contractors might know more about the house than you do.

Specialty contractors who work within specific trades will do a better job if they know the history of your house. Trusted electricians and painters will seamlessly finish any future job without repeating work and costing you more money.

5. Pay for Two Inspections

No matter how cheap or old a house is, you’ll need an inspector to comb through the property to find damages or broken equipment. They’ll report their findings to the current homeowners, who will have to fix up the house as much as possible before you buy it.

After they finish repairing what was in the first report, a second inspection will show you anything that slipped through the initial examination. You can also use the second report as guidance for where to start on renovations.

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6. Get Ready to Help

You may imagine you can pay a few contracting teams to fix up your house and finish your repairs quickly, but what if everything adds up to prices you can’t afford? Learn common house DIY projects you can do on your own, then get ready to roll up your sleeves. Don’t pay someone to complete the work you can finish by yourself or with the help of friends and family.

Ask for Help

Buying a home is a significant step toward living independently, but that doesn’t mean you’re alone. Ask for help from family, friends and even online groups or message boards for tips about how to handle home renovations. Once you know what to look out for and how to finish simple projects, you might lean more toward buying that fixer-upper that’s stolen your heart.

Image credit: fixer uppers by Pixabay

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