Should First Time Buyers Purchase Fixer Uppers?

Certified Mortgage Advisor
NMLS 1701021
Published 
April 19, 2020

Fixer uppers, is it worth it?

We have another great question. So it says, I see a condo that's built in the 1970s needs a lot of work as per the seller. Is that a good idea for a first-time buyer? I'm willing to do the work.

Do it if you are comfortable and not hesitant

So it sounds like maybe we got some nice seventies, shag carpet going on. Really depends on how comfortable you are doing the work. So you say you're willing to do it. That's awesome. The thing that can be a struggle though is, you know if you're needing to move into a place and you're ready for it to just be home, then having something that involves a lot of work is not going to be fun. I would say only do it.

It's not as easy as you think it is

If you're used to doing home improvement work, if you're not used to doing it, it might be something bigger than you actually want to take on. Because I know each HGTV and all these things make it look fun and easy and exciting to go through ship lab up somewhere, but it can be a nightmare if really what you're wanting is a place to call home and you move in and it's just project after project, after project.

Be ready to finance all that improvements

Something else that you're gonna run into is that getting financing for something that needs a lot of work kind of scares me. So you're most likely going to need a conventional loan, FHA, USDA, or VA. All those government loans require homes to be in a lot better condition than a conventional loan does.

So I would say stick to conventional, you might also need something like a repair loan. So like a 203k or a VA renovation or a USDA renovation loan. Those could be a little bit more expensive.

Seller wont fix it for you

Something that scares me too is when a seller says it needs a lot of work. That means a seller is not gonna fix anything for you. They're basically telling you upfront, Hey, we're gonna sell this as is, or we're not willing to do any repairs. So the difficult piece about that is if you purchase the home and you're using financing and your appraisal says, Hey, we need one, two, and three fixed. Then you need to pay that out of pocket to get it fixed. And the seller most likely won't do it.

Look for something you are comfortable with

So all in all, I would only move forward with it if you're very comfortable with home improvement projects and if it's something that's fun and exciting for you. If it's just something that you're saying, Hey, you know you know, you could walk into any home and say, yeah, if I put some money and work into it, it's gonna look great. But does it make sense for you?

Is it something you're gonna be comfortable with? Is it something you're excited about and looking forward to? Then if so great do it. You'll probably make a good amount of cash on the back end when you sell it by doing all of that work. But if it's something again that you just wanna move in and call it home, then just pay market value for it for a home that's already kind of repaired and completed.

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