Can a Handyman's Special Become Your Dream Home?

It is possible to get a much larger home for your money if you buy one which needs some work. Most buyers prefer a home in move-in condition, so "as-is" sales, even on a property which only needs some cosmetic work, generally bring a much lower price.

Some of the questions you should consider before buying a fixer-upper as your principal residence:

Does the house need repairs or does it need remodeling?
If the home needs major repairs, they may need to be done before you move in. On the other hand, updates and cosmetic remodeling can generally be done while you are living in the home.

Will you have the money to renovate?
If you spend all of your housing budget on the purchase of the home, it may be months or even years before you are financially able to remodel.

Do you have the necessary skills and time to complete the renovations if you are planning to do it yourself?
If you are planning on doing the renovations yourself to build up what's commonly called "sweat equity," keep in mind that there's a reason they call it that. It will require a certain amount of knowledge and a large time commitment to renovate a home.

Are you a procrastinator?
It takes a certain amount of self discipline to finish home repairs in a timely fashion, and it can be uncomfortable to live in a home which is perpetually under renovation.

If you do decide that a fixer-upper is for you, be sure to get a professional home inspection before you are locked into a purchase contract. It is also a good idea to get estimates on the repairs from a contractor during the inspection period to help ensure you know exactly what you are getting into. For a rough estimate of the repair costs on a property you are considering, use our fixer-upper cost calculator.

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