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What to pay attention to before putting on offer on that fixer-upper

Fixer-uppers can be enticing for several reasons: lower sales price, potential for profitable resale, opportunity to remodel the house into your dream home, etc. However, taking on a fixer rarely comes without a few unexpected issues. If you are considering a fixer-upper for the first time, here are a few ideas of what to pay attention to.

Foundation and structure.

Unless you are considering leveling the place and starting from the ground up, look for signs that the foundation and structure are sound before anything else. Keep an eye out for cracks in the basement or along the exterior of the house, bowing around doors and windows, or noticeable leaning of the property when looking at it from across the street.


Number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

Sure, you can tear down a  wall here and there, but be realistic of what your options are with the existing floorplans. Installing or rerouting plumbing and electricity get expensive fast, so make sure you know what you really need from the property before getting in too deep.


Your budget.

Do your due diligence by meeting with financial advisors, talking to experienced renovators, and reading the numerous fixer upper blogs. It’s a good rule of thumb to set a budget, then add an additional 10-20% buffer. Remember that your budget will change depending on your region/city, as will permit costs and requirements.


Signs of water damage.

Find out if the property has a history of flooding or is in a flood zone. Check the basement and walls for damp spots or water damage. Are there pipes that appear to be leaking or busted. Even small signs of water damage can be clues to a much larger problem in the long run, so keep those costs in mind if you spot them.


Age of the big things.

Furnaces, roofs, water heaters, etc. all have finite lifespans. The last thing you want is to be three months into renovating and have to purchase a brand new furnace that you hadn’t planned on. Find out as much as you can on how old the big ticket items are so you can better gage how well the property fits into your budget.


Financing options.

Not all fixer-uppers are financed as conveniently as one would hope. Make sure you talk with a lender about all of your options so you don’t waiste your time looking at properties you don’t have the financing for.


The inspector.

When it comes to fixer-uppers, your inspector is going to play a huge role. Do your research, ask around, and get references. Someone with building experience would be a bonus in this situation as they can offer a skilled eye for the problems you might run into. When it comes to remodeling there will always be hiccups, so the more aware you are of the possible obstacles, the better.

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