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For some St. Louis homebuyers, taking on a fixer-upper can be a rewarding project that helps them create the house of their dreams. This isn’t the case for all buyers though. Fixer-uppers are a unique purchase, and if you go into it without the right preparation, it can turn into a frustrating and expensive process. Here are some of the most important things to consider if you’re thinking about buying a fixer-upper:
Before You Start Your Search:
Though the listing price on fixer-uppers can be attractively low, prospective buyers need to remember that’s not really the cost of the home. For each property you look at, you’ll need to estimate the cost of the renovation and add that to the list price. Before you begin making those calculations, you should make calculations about your own finances. It’s important to know your budget before shopping and leave some significant space for error. This will quickly help you narrow down your search and find a house that you can afford to restore.
Before you start looking at properties, it’s important to consider how much time you have available to work on the house. If you’re buying with a partner, be sure to discuss what you envision for projects. Real fixer-uppers can be incredibly demanding of their owners in the first few months, and it’s important that you have the time to dedicate to it. If time is a concern, look for something in better shape that just needs some cosmetic work.
Where You’ll Live
Will you look at only properties you can live in while you’re fixing up, or will you also consider those large renovation projects that require the house to be empty for a time? Again, this will help you refine your search to find the right fit. If you are open to living elsewhere, make sure you factor that into your budget as well.
Your Support System
Finally, large renovations take a lot of work and can get stressful at times. Having a support system in place can be important for many buyers. Whether it’s going into the purchase with someone or simply having some friends to help you brainstorm from time to time, support can help you push through those challenging times.
Searching for Your Fixer-Upper:
Know What the House Needs
If you find a property you like, you’ll want to go through and list everything it needs from minor repairs to major fixes. This will help you to evaluate the cost and see if it aligns with your timeframe. It’s also smart to have a professional look at the house with you, especially if it’s your first fixer-upper. A contractor can be a big help when it comes to estimating the work.
Consider Structural Damage
You’ll also want to investigate any potential structural damage to the house, things like the foundation and the roof. This type of damage can get very expensive to repair. If you are considering taking on a house that requires structural work, make sure you find experienced professionals to help you assess the damage and make the repairs correctly.
Type of Mortgage
When you meet with your loan officer, let them know you’ll be buying a fixer-upper. You can ask them if an FHA 203(k) loan could be right for you. This type of loan covers the cost of the house and the repairs it needs. Getting clear on your mortgage options before you’re ready to make an offer can help you make a smart financial decision.
There’s no doubt that fixer-uppers take work, but when done right, the results can really be worth the effort. The key is going into the house-hunting process prepared, so that you take on a project that fits your finances and your lifestyle. Stay tuned for another fixer-upper post focused on what to do once you’ve made your purchase.