The Myth of Curb Appeal: Look Deeper

In today’s robust real estate market, there is a tendency to believe that all properties will sell quickly and for top dollar. The truth is, however, that there are bargains to be had, if you’re willing to consider a fixer-upper. Some homes languish on the market today because they are sorely lacking in curb appeal, they need substantial updating, or they require an outlay of cash to repair or replace current deficiencies.

Such homes can represent smart deals for a savvy buyer. This is not the same as ” house flipping,” nor is it the same as buying a distressed property at a bargain-basement price. It is, rather, a strategy to think about if you have a specific goal in mind. Reasons for considering a home that needs work include:

  • You find an older home in a historic neighborhood that has not been updated for decades, but it’s structurally sound.
  • You fall in love with a smaller home in a sought-after school district or an upscale community with a lot of larger homes, and you see a potential for adding square footage;
  • You find a large home that needs substantial work, but you can see the possibilities that exist;
  • You realize the advantages of mature landscaping and a great in-town location, and you can devote time, energy and money to modernizing and repairing the structure.

Despite the fact that nine out of ten homebuyers plan to spend some dollars remodeling within two years, the majority of buyers today want “move-in ready” homes. By looking at “ugly ducklings” in established communities, you should be able to maximize your homebuying dollars. You will want to factor in the cost of necessary repairs and improvements, though, and you should seek the advice of a professional contractor and receive a reliable, detailed estimate of needed work before making an offer for such a property.

You should also discuss financing options with your lender; investigate the option of combining a remodel loan with your mortgage, and bundling the down payment and closing costs to save you money as well as time.

Finally, if you don’t have to move in until all — or at least most — of the work is completed, you should have the best of all possible worlds!

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