What does TLC really mean when used in Real Estate


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If you’ve ever spent some time on sites like Realtor.com or Zillow.com you’ve probably come across a house listing or two that states, the property needs some “TLC”. We aren’t talking about the all women rap group or a TV station, but Tender, Loving, Care. In other words, the property needs some repairs. How much work is needed? Well, there’s no definitive answer, but it could be a lot. Most homes that state they need TLC, or a little elbow grease typically need more than just a coat of paint or new carpeting.

Some homes needing a loving touch could require a new roof, HVAC system, plumbing repairs, or even foundation work – especially if you are looking at a home in the quiet corner of Connecticut home of the “crumbling foundations”! More often than not a home needing some TLC will have a list of repairs and those repairs could get costly if they include all of the above.

Does that mean you should pass on a home needing some TLC? No, but buying a home needing a lot of repairs should be given some serious consideration including a budget for making those repairs, the type of financing you’ll be able to get, and how long it could take to be livable, especially if you need to move in ASAP.

Keep in mind that TLC homes are not for everyone. If you aren’t able to tackle some of the repairs yourself, the home could end up costing you way more money than you bargained for – but skip doing these repairs yourself. No matter how thorough your inspection was, you won’t be able to see all the defects until you start doing some of the work. What started as a simple vanity replacement could lead to plumbing or flooring repairs as well, especially if you are looking at an older home.  

TLC homes usually require time and money as well as being handy. If you don’t have the time to do the repairs, not only is it going to cost you for materials, but it’s going to cost you money to pay someone to make those repairs. Depending on the type of repairs needed, you may need to pay to live somewhere else while also paying a mortgage on a home that may not be livable during the renovation period. If you can barely afford to buy the home, let alone apply that tender, loving care, consider passing on a TLC sale.

When it comes to financing, you may not be able to use conventional financing either especially if the home is not in livable condition. Make sure to talk to your lender about your options before you make an offer. You should also ask your Realtor if the home is being sold “as is”, meaning they aren’t willing to make any repairs to the property, or if they will consider fixing some of the bigger issues.

While TLC homes aren’t for everyone, some people love being able to come in and put their own touches and finishes on a home. They don’t mind having to redo kitchens and bathrooms because they can make it how they want it. They might not mind having to install new windows because they can pick out the color or style that they want.

Experts say that as long as the home’s foundation, roof, and structure are sound, a TLC property can be a solid investment. In addition to an inspection, having a contractor work up some numbers, including a contingency budget, can help you determine how much to offer.

Have questions about financing your dream TLC home? Give us a call and one of our expert mortgage lenders can help you.


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.