What to Know About Fixer-Uppers

With patience and elbow grease, you can turn a dump into a dream

Can't afford your dream home or your dream neighborhood? Not afraid of getting your hands dirty? Looking for a bargain? Consider buying a fixer-upper.

Fixer-uppers, also referred to as "handyman specials," are houses with physical problems, ranging from easy to spot (peeling paint or broken windows) to those that will only be caught upon more inspection (outdated electrical systems).

Most buyers take the safe route of purchasing a house in move-in condition, but for those who have the time and financial resources to tackle a sizable project, fixer-uppers can be a great option with the potential of reaping major rewards.

Find the Right House

Finding a house worth your money and sweat equity will take some time and determination. Here are some tips:

  • Buy in the best neighborhood you can afford, but stick to the cheaper houses to avoid owning the most expensive house on the block.
  • Have each potential house professionally inspected so you know exactly what kind of issues you’ll face.
  • Get cost estimates on any repairs and renovations that will be required and make sure they will more than pay for themselves in increased property value.

Remember, in the end, the project will probably be more expensive and more time-consuming than you expected. You’ll find that many fixer-uppers will end up costing more than a finished house would, but if you’re persistent, you may find a good deal on a house that will work for you.

Who Will Fix Up Your Fixer-Upper?

Some people may be able to do the labor themselves, but for most, hiring a contractor is the way to go. Get referrals or find one at Contractors.com. Quality work is crucial, and a professional can usually do a better job more efficiently than you would be able to do. If you've got the skills to do the work, get tips from our sister site DIYnetwork.com.

Reap the Rewards

The process of fixing up a home is often risky, stressful and time-consuming, but if that doesn't scare you, then this kind of project may be right for you. If you're successful, you could enjoy years in the kind of home you want in a neighborhood you would have been unable to afford. When you're ready to sell your home, your hard work could pay off again if you profit on your dump-turned-dream home.


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