Sometimes renovating eats into family time

Pros and Cons of Buying a House that Needs Work

Wednesday Oct 11th, 2023


Yes, the old “fixer upper”.  HGTV land is full of the $6,000 homes that just need a little bit of TLC and they look amazing.  There are days that I wish I lived in HGTV land.  Sadly, I live in the real world.  A world where it takes time to renovate and improve.  Sadly, a land where it’s expensive to do so.  Happily in that there are a myriad of options to beautify a home.  That said, here are some of the pros and cons of buying that home that needs work, the elusive fixer upper.

There’s no doubt about it. Buying a home that is “move in ready” is a real convenience. All you need to do is get your belongings in place, and you’re ready to enjoy living in your new home. You don’t even need to paint.

That’s why move-in-ready homes tend to attract more buyers.

However, there are advantages to buying a property that needs work.

And, if you’re currently shopping for a new home, a listing that requires some repairs, upgrades, or renovations might be worth considering.

Why? Properties that need work tend to be priced lower than comparable move in-ready listings.

Depending on market demand, the price savings can range from modest (just a few thousand dollars) to substantial.  In our current market a true fixer upper may last a little longer than other homes, but depending on the price and location it might get snapped up quickly.

Another advantage is the opportunity to get into a desirable area you otherwise might not have afforded. It might be worth the extra work you’d need to put into the home to live in your dream neighbourhood.

There is that saying in real estate that it’s better to buy the least expensive house on the most expensive street that you can afford.

One of the main reasons people like to purchase a fixer upper is to be able to put their own stamp on the home.  There are so many amazing materials, tiles, paint colours, flooring options that you may wish to create that canvas to create the home of your dreams.

But, while there are advantages to buying a house that needs work, there are also important caveats.

The first caveat is you must know the scope of work that is required before making any decision to purchase.  This is where a home inspection is essential.  Knowing and trusting a good contractor also helps.  Having a Realtor (why yes, that would be me!) that has renovation experience is key.

Questions to consider include:

How will you get the work done?  If you are planning on doing the work yourself you have to consider other items in your life such as work, family, and other obligations that will eat into your time.

If you plan to do the work do you have the skill set to do it all?  How much will you need to outsource?

How much will you need to budget for the improvements? Will the improvements really improve the resale price of the home?

Are you prepared for the realities of living in a property during renovations?  Is your family?

The second caveat is you must anticipate any issues that can’t be seen during a typical viewing. The last thing you want is to pay for a major repair you weren’t expecting.

That’s why getting a professional home inspection as a condition of your offer is often a good idea.

There’s a lot to think about when you’re buying a “needs work” property. It’s so easy to get caught up in HGTV land where everything is sorted out in an hour.  After a year of renovating I can tell you it’s never that easy, quick, or within budget. 

I can help you make an informed decision if you plan to buy a “fixer upper” or if you wish to buy a turnkey home. Call me today so we can discuss what will work best for you, your family, and your budget.

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