Buying a Fixer-Upper
On the surface, the idea of buying a Fixer-Upper sounds ideal. Buy it cheap, spend some money updating the home, and you have the home of your dreams or a property you can resell for a tidy profit. Sounds good right? I would caution you however to make sure you know exactly what you are buying before you buy. Remember the term "Buyer Beware", keep in mind if something is cheap, there are likely hidden defects that you may not be aware of.
A few years ago, when the market was hot and investors were buying and flipping homes with regularity I ran in to a situation that was astounding to say the least. An investor had purchased a home at a great price in that market, he had spent a great deal on repairing broken windows, putting a new roof on the property, installing new floor coverings and cabinets, painting the property both inside & out; he had even put in new appliances and window coverings. The house looked great!
The seller then put the home on the market. On the surface all appeared perfect, ready for a new buyer and a nice little profit. What was hidden however cost this individual a fortune. What he didn't know was that the foundation under the home was crumbling and the floor joists were not adaquate to provide support. Over the years many times an effort had been made to cover up this issue with caulking, paint, even stucco applied over the stem wall. However, when the buyer had a home inspection done, it was discovered that there were too few support piers under the home, and those that were there had been installed with substandard concrete that was crumbling. The house was in danger of collapse because there was essentially no foundation under the house. The seller ultimately had to take out every square inch of flooring in the house, dig and pour new footers under the home, and replace all that new floor covering he had just installed. This was a major expense that ultimately cost him far more than he had ever imagined.
If you feel a fixer-upper is the answer, then be sure you do your Due Diligence because those hidden issues can cost a great deal more in time, money, & frustration, than you may think. While Fixer-Uppers can be a good deal, if the basic structure is sound, it is the hidden issues you cannot see that can cause heartache later.
There is a difference between a home needing some TLC and needing a complete Rehab. In today's market if a property is priced below similar homes in the area, use caution, there is probably a reason for that low price. You need to make sure you know what you are buying and the anticipated cost to do the necessary repairs before you move forward. As Is Where Is means you need to remember the words "Buyer Beware".
Use a Professional Real Estate Agent when you buy, they can guide you to the people who can discover these hidden issues before you buy.
Sandra Paulow, Associate Broker, GRI, REALTOR®
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