Before You Buy that Fix-It-Up House

Posted June 21st, 2010
by Staff (no comments)

In recent years, there has been a great deal of buzz around the idea of buying a home that is in, shall we say, less than perfect condition and fixing it up, either to live in or to sell.

Some people have even managed to make a very good living out of “flipping” houses. They buy houses in poor repair cheap, fix them up, and sell them for a fast turnaround and a good profit. There are some things to consider before doing this, however, including homeowner’s insurance, the time and cost of repairs, and whether or not you will be able to live in the house while you are restoring it.

While the slowdown (crisis, anyone?) in the housing market has made this practice a bit less attractive, at least as a business option, many people do still buy homes that need a considerable amount of work. Of course, the idea is that, once the work is done, they will have a dream house that not only was less expensive than buying a home in pristine condition, but also bears the labor of love that goes into making the house in the image that they want.

But there are some things to consider before going out and diving head first into a house that needs some work. A little asking around will dredge up all kinds of horror stories of people who bought fix it up homes, only to find that there was more work to be done than they had thought. A lot more work, more often than not.

Will your family be living in the home while you’re working on it? If so, is the home really going to be livable? Keep in mind that even relatively minor repairs like patching drywall can make things very uncomfortable for those who have to live in the house, and major repairs just shouldn’t be done while people are in the house.

That’s not to say no one should buy a project house. If your family has a high degree of tolerance for such things, that’s great. But, most families don’t. If you can afford to, live elsewhere while you are fixing the house up.

You should also consider the costs of homeowners insurance. Often, some of the safety flaws inherent in homes that are in need of repair can cause your premiums to be much higher. If you do buy a project house, check with your agent to see which repairs would affect your premiums and make sure you let him know as soon as you complete those repairs.

Photo via Bert K

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