The Best Advice for Homebuyers Considering a Fixer Upper

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Are you ready to put some elbow grease into your next abode? Stumbling onto a diamond in the rough can be a homebuyer’s dream come true – or it can be a nightmare. Whether you found a property that’s almost perfect or one that’s in need of a complete overhaul, here’s what you need to know before you invest in a house that needs your help.

Have Realistic Expectations

If you watch many shows about home remodeling, you might get the idea that a whole house can be transformed in a matter of hours. However, most renovations are more time-consuming than that. In fact, House Beautiful says some projects might take about 3 weeks, like a small kitchen or bathroom upgrade, while more elaborate projects can take several months. It’s not unusual to experience delays as well, and on top of that, better contractors tend to be busy, so you might be on a waiting list for a while.

Similarly, costs can vary greatly. According to some surveys, refreshing your kitchen will run between $25,001 and $50,000, and a bathroom remodel is in the neighborhood of $9,000 and $15,000.

Elbow Room and Interruptions

On top of costs, you need to remember you might be fully or partially displaced for a while. Big projects might mean temporarily living in a hotel or apartment. Homeowners making an addition can often live in the house during renovations, especially if the work is contained to a single room. However, remember that eating out while the kitchen is a wreck or using the kids’ bathroom while yours is torn up can get old if you aren’t prepared to manage it for weeks or months on end.

A space boon for many homeowners is a simple addition, whether it’s a garage or bath, adding useful square footage and improving home value. Those needing just a small space can often get by with a bump out. The national average cost to build an addition is $44,663, and some experts suggest planning on it taking at least one month.

Sensible Dollars and Cents

Covering the cost of home improvements can sound pretty daunting, but as Bankrate explains, homeowners have a broad variety of options available to them, both in terms of loans and lenders. In fact, a mortgage broker is just one kind of lender, and they have hundreds of loan options to tailor to your circumstances.

For example, you might go with a home equity line of credit, which is a bit like a credit card. Or you might get a home equity loan. These loans pay you up front and work like a traditional mortgage, minus the closing costs. There are also other options, like specialized loans for energy-efficient homes, loans insured by the FHA, and B and C loans.

Lenders will examine your credit score, income, and how much you want to borrow. Depending on the type of loan, they will also make comparisons with how much your home improvements will cost and what they expect the final property value to be.

If you have trouble qualifying for a loan, there are ways to improve your situation. For instance, you can improve your credit score by making timely payments on your debts, paying off debts, and paying routine things like your utilities before they’re due.

Who’s Doing the Work?

When you hire a contractor for a home renovation, bear in mind that you will live with the outcome day in and day out. Focusing solely on price can mean drawn out projects and shoddy craftsmanship, so it’s critical to find a qualified contractor to tackle your project. Develop a clear idea of what you want in advance, get some references, and get estimates priced out in writing.

Your home is your castle, and the last thing you want is for your fixer upper project to flop. Have realistic expectations, figure out your financing, and hire qualified help. A few plans and preparations can make the difference between a dream and a nightmare.

Written By: Hazel Bridges