Buying a fixer-upper: A how-to guide

In the past few years, fixer-upper shows have exploded in popularity. In each episode there seems to be a savvy new couple hunting down a beat-up old house and transforming it into a beautiful residence. Americans are hooked on these shows. And while many are content to watch a new episode or three each week, many want to put their feet in the water and buy their own fixer-upper.

If you’re looking to roll up your sleeves, break down a few walls and create your own uniquely perfect home, be sure you know what you’re getting into by keeping the following points in mind.

  1. Work with an agent who really understands what you’re looking for. A good agent can show you the prime neighborhoods and knows which homes have good bones along with other features that make a house an ideal candidate for a major overhaul.
  2. Hire a qualified home inspector. Though you may expect to do 101 things to the house and replace everything including the kitchen sink, a good home inspector can give you a much clearer picture of what you’re getting into before you buy. This information can help you to prioritize your work.
  3. Ugly is good. In real estate, as in so many things in life, first impressions are hugely important. Bright orange carpet or bubbly wallpaper can really drive down the value of a home. But if you’re looking for a fixer-upper and you come across such unruly decor, you’ve hit the jackpot. These are items you’d probably tear out anyways, and could mean you’ll get an even better deal than anticipated.
  4. Plan on having at least one thing break the bank. It seems like on television they always find one unexpected issue with the house that sets them over budget. This may be done for dramatic effect, but you should prepare yourself for such surprises by adding an extra 10 to 15 percent to your renovation budget.
  5. Make sure you have help lined up. The more you plan, the smoother your renovation will go. Before you begin, contact electricians, plumbers, general contractors, etc., and let them know you are in the process of renovating a fixer-upper. Even if everything goes great and you don’t end up needing them, it’s important to have a list of people on hand in case you find yourself needing to rewire some circuits or fix the foundation.

To learn more about buying a fixer-upper in Cedar Rapids, talk to a Coldwell Banker Hedges Realtor® today. They know the market and can show you some great homes with a lot of potential.

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