Reality TV shows make buying a fixer-upper seem like a piece of cake. After about 30 to 40 minutes of airtime, renovations are complete—often after remedying a minor hiccup or two—and the home is move-in ready.
But tackling a fixer-upper in real life is a different story. For starters, it can be difficult to find a property at a big enough discount in today’s market, so there is a lot more effort than you may realize. And, if your goal is resale and you do not properly evaluate the property, you may find little room in your budget for profit.
If you are dreaming of a fixer-upper, here are some tips:
1. Budget properly. With a lack of supply and increase in demand forming a perfect storm of escalating prices, your budget will need to be higher than it was only a year or two ago. That means being more mindful about what you pay for the property.
2. Expect a wait. Not only can you expect to wait for just the right property to fit your budget, but you’ll also often wait for supplies and even the workers who will help you get the job done. If you’re buying a fixer-upper as your primary residence, be sure you have temporary housing options that can go the distance.
3. Plan for a plot twist—or two. One thing the reality shows got right is the inevitable roadblock to success that occurs just as things are going well. Older homes that have not been lovingly cared for—and even some that have—are prone to problems popping up, often with a hefty price tag.
4. Keep it real. While you may be salivating over that fixer-upper you just toured, don’t underestimate the time you have to put into the project nor overestimate your skills to assist in getting the job done.
So, is a fixer-upper right for you? That depends on how well you can mitigate the risks you’ll be taking on, both in time and money. Keep your expectations in line with the marketplace. If you’re focusing on a fixer-upper as your next home simply because you think you are going to save a great deal of money, you could end up frustrated and disappointed.