Should you buy a fixer-upper? Don’t be fooled by what you see on TV. It's a horrible idea

This is the second in the series of “Should you buy a fixer-upper?” Last week's post offered the opposing view for why you should buy one.

Yes, home-renovation fever has swept the country. It seems like every week a new show pops up with a new cute couple smashing down walls and rehabbing a place to perfection. It looks so fun! So glamorous! And just think how much money you can save.

Pardon the sarcasm, but we need to be honest here. The fixer-upper route is a treacherous path. We’ve all had our moments where, charmed by what Chip and Joanna Gaines have done, we think we too could make the worst house on the block the best.

It’s a lot more frustrating than you think. For the sake of your sanity, look for a home that's move-in ready, or that only needs minor restoration. Here’s why:

Your expectations are impossibly high. We all have a friend who has watched a few too many romantic comedies and developed some unrealistic expectations about dating and finding “the one.” Well, you’re probably in the same position with rehabbing a house.

It’s more expensive than you think. The national average cost for a minor kitchen remodel is $20,122; a major kitchen remodel averages $119,909, according to Remodeling Magazine. That should be enough to make you stop and think about how much you’re really going to save.

There will be some unexpected repairs. Trust us on this. And it won’t be pretty. As a rule of thumb, you can expect to pay an additional 10 to 20 percent above your renovation budget on these surprises.

The paperwork and logistics will age you well beyond your years. While you can take advantage of 203(k) financing to help pay for the rehab work, the process involves some hoops and headaches. Coordinating with the contractor, then getting the appraiser and mortgage company to sign off, can be maddening.

As we mentioned in the beginning, instead of looking for a dump, look for a home that needs some cosmetic love. We’re talking shag carpet and gaudy wallpaper, the kinds of things that will deter other buyers and allow you to snatch up a great deal. These repairs will take some work and you might need to hire out some help, but they are nowhere near as expensive as a major renovation.

If you are in the market for a fixer-upper, talk to a Coldwell Banker Hedges Realtor® today. They know the industry and can tell you everything you need to know about the Cedar Rapids housing market.

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