Tips for Buying a Fixer-upper Home

fixer upper

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It takes willpower and a budget to invest in a fixer-upper home. You have to see the potential, weigh the pros and cons and see the project through to the end. Knowing when to buy and how to flip, can make a stressful project a breeze. How can you tell if a house is a gem worth saving? If you’ve got a DIY mindset, some patience and a few coins to spend, here are some considerations to make when you’re thinking of buying a rehab home.

Finding the Right Fixer-Upper
The best way to get a real estate bargain is to look where others aren’t. Vacant properties are great because in many cases the seller has simply moved out leaving their old home in decent condition. Finding older homes in established neighborhoods could also be a worthwhile investment. As long as you have the willingness to repair surface damage. Hiring the right agent can save you time if they know of any properties that are difficult to show. Those properties are your best friends when you’re looking for a fixer-upper!

Determining Your Home Desired Category
There are categories in place that can assist you when making an educated decision about the home you choose. Generally, fixer-upper properties can be categorized in 3 ways:  a tear down, a cosmetic fixer or outdated and simply ugly. Becoming aware of the extensive repairs, remodeling and do it yourself projects needed to renovate the home, will tell you exactly where your fixer-upper falls.  Knowing this will help you determine if this project will be worthwhile.

For tear downs, otherwise known as houses in distress, there are no warranties. Make sure a certified inspector looks over the property before you make an offer. You’ll need to be aware of how much it will cost to make the place habitable or flippable beforehand.

The Fixer-upper Checklist
Once you have determined the category of your fixer-upper, create a checklist. The checklist should have four key areas to review: location, configuration, layout and condition. Check these four areas off your list and make sure they work with your time and budget before making your purchase.

Things like location and layout are most important because there’s little room for modification here. Ideally, you want to inspect the surrounding homes and be sure the neighborhood matches your lifestyle. In terms of layout, most families prefer 3-bedroom home with more than one bath. With a bad floor plan tearing down walls and rebuilding becomes very costly.

Key Conditions to Consider
Minor cosmetic improvements are typically less costly and easier on your budget than a major renovation, but you won’t know what the home needs until you’ve had it thoroughly inspected. Here’s what you should be looking for:

  1. Membrane – Will the roof keep water out and the heat in?
  2. Electrical – Is property properly wired?
  3. Heating – What type of heat does the property use and is it sustainable?
  4. Doors and Windows – These repairs can get pricey. Determine if this will break the bank for you by getting a quote in advance
  5. Plumbing – Leaks and pressure issues are also top dollar to fix.
  6. Structure – Will your house stand up or is it subject to collapse over time?
  7. Foundation – Is the basement wet with cracks that will be a problem in the future?

If your potential home is requiring renovations you’re ready to take on, you may qualify for some financial backing from our bank! Since these home loans are backed by the government, banks are more likely to accept lower interest rates than what would be required by your typical home renovation loan. As your mortgage lender, we can find the best loan options for your needs.

Are you thinking about purchasing a home? Tell us down below!








Jennifer Ives-Groebl
Vice President, Senior Mortgage Lender
NMLS MLO ID: 532621

Author: Jennifer Ives-Groebl

Jennifer has been with Litchfield Bancorp since 1994 and was promoted to Assistant Vice President and Senior Mortgage Originator shortly after graduating the Connecticut School of Finance & Management in 1998. Stationed in both our Torrington and Litchfield locations, Jennifer is well known and respected in the local residential real estate community and recognized as a resource for some of the more difficult transactions. Jennifer resides in Torrington and is actively involved in the local community. She is a long time member of the Torrington/Winsted Rotary club and is currently serving as its Assistant Treasurer. Jennifer is involved with Litchfield County Board of Realtors and serves as chair of the Audit Committee and a member of the Public Relations Committee. She is also a member of the Fuessenich Park Partnership; and through Education Connection, has participated in the Mentoring Program.

2 thoughts on “Tips for Buying a Fixer-upper Home”

  1. I’ve been looking for some real estate options. I like that you talked about how you can find the right fixer upper real estate if you can repair the home. I’m going to have to look for some real estate options and see what we can find!

  2. I liked your breakdown of different types of fixer-uppers. I never thought about them in those categories but all of the different fixer-uppers I’ve seen fall into this category. We’ll definitely have to consider this for ourselves when we start looking at homes. Thank you!

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