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- Should Your First Home be a Fixer-Upper?
Should Your First Home be a Fixer-Upper?
Houses needing a little TLC might seem like a bargain, especially for your first home, but are you the person to give that house an overhaul? Find out whether or not should strap on the tool belt
Mark Brock is a fan of fixer-uppers. He bought his first in the midseventies, a circa-1935 house in Columbia, SC, that was rich in history but short on modern conveniences. “Very little had been done to it, but it was in good shape and structurally sound,” he says. It turned out to be a good investment of time, money, and sweat equity.
It takes a certain mind-set — and budget — to see the project through, and a slow market is also making more of those handyman’s specials available and attractively priced.
How can you tell if a house is a diamond in the rough worth excavating? It has to do with the actual house —and with you. Here are some considerations to make when you’re thinking of buying a fixer-upper.
Is the Problem Cosmetic or Structural?
Cosmetic fixes are those that would make a house prettier, like replacing unattractive awnings or painting or landscaping — “things that won’t cost a lot of money and won’t require a lot of contractors,” says Ilona Bray, author of Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home. You’re more likely to find these kinds of homes now, too.
But if the problem is structural, you might want to pass, especially if you’re new to home repair. Fixing it will it be expensive and possibly time consuming but the issue at hand could be a sign that the house is not in good shape. Structural problems would involve anything that requires a contractor or knocking down walls, like trouble with the foundation, termites, or plumbing. These are things that should be found on a home inspection, which generally happens after you’ve made your bid and before closing on the house. If any structural issues are found on that inspection, think seriously about whether or not the home is going to be worth the extra cost.
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