Net Gain Real Estate

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Buying a Fixer-Upper: Pros and Cons

Embarking on the journey of buying a home that needs work or a fixer-upper is an exciting adventure where you get to watch your dream unfold before your eyes. It’s an opportunity to take a house that needs some love and transform it into a home that perfectly reflects your style and personality.


The process can be incredibly rewarding, both emotionally and financially, as you see the fruits of your labor come to life. But, as with any grand adventure, there are both exhilarating highs and some challenges along the way. Let’s dive into the details of what makes buying a fixer-upper such an exciting prospect and what you need to consider before taking the plunge.

Buying a Fixer Upper: Pros and Cons of Buying

Key Takeaways

  • Thorough Research is Crucial: Before purchasing a fixer-upper, ensure you understand the full scope of what you’re getting into with a detailed home inspection.
  • Budget for the Unexpected: Always allocate a contingency budget for unforeseen expenses that will inevitably arise during renovations.
  • Familiarize Yourself with Legalities: Understanding the permitting process and local zoning laws is essential to avoid regulatory issues.
  • Impact on Lifestyle: Be realistic about how living in or managing a renovation project will affect your daily life.
  • Insurance Coverage: Ensure you have the appropriate insurance for your prospective home while under renovation and understand additional liability concerns.
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Pros - Why Buy a Fixer-Upper Home

Cost Savings on Purchase Price

One of the most appealing aspects of buying a fixer-upper is the potential for significant cost savings on the purchase price. Fixer-uppers generally come with a lower purchase price than comparable move-in-ready homes that aren’t requiring the same amount of work in the same area.


This lower upfront cost can make homeownership accessible to a broader range of buyers, including those who might otherwise be priced out of the market. By investing in a fixer-upper, you’re able to buy more house for your money and allocate additional funds towards renovations and improvements that will increase the home’s value..

Potential for Increased Home Value

With the right renovations and improvements, a fixer-upper can significantly increase in value. This potential for a high return on investment is a major draw for many buyers. Imagine purchasing a home at a bargain price, investing time and money into thoughtful upgrades that the house needs, and ending up with a property worth substantially more than your total investment. It’s a fantastic way to build equity and create a valuable asset.

"With the right improvements, a fixer-upper can significantly increase in value, offering a good return on investment."
Bobbi Moore
NetGain Real Estate

Customization Opportunities

When you buy a fixer-upper, you have a blank canvas to create the home of your dreams. Unlike purchasing a move-in-ready home, where you’re often confined to the existing layout and design choices, a fixer-upper allows you to personalize every aspect of the house. From the floor plan to the finishes, you can tailor everything to your tastes and needs. This level of customization is incredibly satisfying and ensures that your home is a true reflection of your style.

Less Competition

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In a competitive housing market, fixer-uppers often attract less interest than move-in-ready homes. Many buyers are deterred by the prospect of extensive renovations, which can reduce the competition and give you a better chance of securing the property. This can be particularly advantageous in hot markets where bidding wars are common and it can allow you to make an offer on the property. By focusing on fixer-uppers, finding the right one, you might find hidden gems that others overlook.


Education to Last a Lifetime

Taking on a fixer-upper can be a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills. Whether you’re tackling basic DIY projects or diving into more complex construction tasks, the experience can be incredibly educational. You’ll gain valuable knowledge about home maintenance, renovation techniques, and even project management. These skills can serve you well in future homeownership or investment endeavors.

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Good Investment – Tax Advantages

Depending on your location, there may be tax benefits associated with purchasing and renovating a fixer-upper. Some areas offer tax deductions for home improvement loans or credits for specific types of renovations, such as energy-efficient upgrades.

These financial incentives can help offset some of the costs associated with your renovation project, making the investment even more attractive.

Historical Restoration

If your fixer-upper happens to be an historic home, you have the unique opportunity to restore a piece of history. Bringing a historic home back to its former glory can be incredibly rewarding, both personally and for the community. You’ll be preserving the charm and character of the past while creating a beautiful, functional living space for the future.

"Fixer-uppers offer the potential for great savings and a highly personalized home, but they come with their own set of challenges.".
Bobbi Moore
NetGain Real Estate

The Cons of Buying a Fixer-Upper

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Unexpected Costs

One of the biggest challenges of buying a fixer-upper is dealing with unexpected costs and ending up with a money pit (The movie, The Money Pit, is an oldie but goodie you might want to check out!).


Renovations often uncover hidden problems that need to be addressed, such as structural issues, outdated electrical systems, or plumbing problems. These unforeseen expenses can quickly add up, potentially exceeding your original budget. It’s essential to have a contingency fund in place to cover these surprises.


Time Commitment

Renovating a fixer-upper is a time-intensive process. From planning and obtaining permits to the actual renovation work, the project can take months or even years to complete.


This time commitment can be particularly challenging if you plan to live in the home during renovations, as you’ll be dealing with ongoing construction and disruptions to your daily life. (Check out our blog post on living in your home during a renovation HERE) Alternatively, you might need to arrange temporary accommodations, adding to the overall cost.



Stress and Overwhelm

The process of renovating a home can be stressful and overwhelming. There are countless decisions to be made, budgets to manage, and unexpected issues to navigate. The stress can be compounded if you’re doing much of the work yourself or coordinating multiple contractors. It’s important to be prepared for the emotional toll that a renovation project can take and to have a strong support system in place.

This is why we don’t recommend a complete DIY home remodel. Working with subcontractors can keep costs within your budget and you be the general contractor.  It’s a great way to save AND create your modern home with all the features you’ve been looking for.

Securing financing for a fixer-upper can be more challenging than for a move-in-ready home. Traditional lenders may be hesitant to offer a mortgage on a home that requires extensive work. Additionally, you may need to budget for interim financing solutions if your renovation timeline extends beyond your initial loan period.

One the best sources for renovation and remodeling financing is the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA.  They have a few different program available including the 203k rehabilitation loan program.  I’ve used that a few times and found it one of the best options for substantial remodeling loans. You can check out our review and details on the program HERE.


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Things Homeowners Should Consider When Buying (But Might Not Think Of)

Permitting Process and Zoning Laws

The permitting process and local zoning laws can significantly impact your renovation plans. Homeowners might not initially consider the complexity and time required to navigate these regulatory hurdles.


Depending on the scope of your project, you may need permits for structural changes, electrical work, plumbing, and more. Local zoning laws can also affect what modifications are allowed, such as adding an extension or changing the use of the property. Understanding these legalities before purchasing can save a lot of headaches down the line.


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And this is why we recommend hiring subcontractors and having them handle their own inspections and permit process. Make it part of your agreement and eliminate the headache being on you! (Especially important if you are renovating a fixer-upper as a first home!)

Impact on Lifestyle


Living in a construction zone can significantly impact your daily life, a fact that many might underestimate. The constant presence of dust, noise, and contractors can be stressful and disrupt normal routines. For projects with extensive renovations, you might even need to live elsewhere during the most intensive phases, affecting your budget and daily commute.


Consider the emotional and logistical aspects of living through a renovation or the feasibility of alternative living arrangements during the project.

Buying a fixer-upper is an exciting and rewarding journey that can lead to creating the home of your dreams. The potential for cost savings, increased home value, and the satisfaction of customization are significant benefits.


However, it’s crucial to be aware of the challenges and eliminate all that you can like keeping costs on track, setting aside time to visit the property and review with subcontractors time commitments, and lower any stress that might occur. By doing thorough research, budgeting for contingencies, understanding legal requirements, making sure you’re insurance will cover the project and understanding potential impact on your lifestyle, you can make an informed decision and set yourself up for a successful renovation project.

FAQs About Buying a Fixer Upper

Q: What should I look for when buying a fixer-upper?
A: When buying a fixer-upper, prioritize structural integrity, foundation stability, and roofing condition. A home inspector or engineer is key in verifying these items for you.Ensure the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems are functional. Always get a thorough home inspection to identify any hidden issues.

Q: How do I finance a fixer-upper?
A: Financing options for a fixer-upper include traditional mortgages, FHA 203(k) loans, Fannie Mae HomeStyle Renovation loans, and personal loans. Each option has different requirements and benefits, so consult with a lender to find the best fit for your needs.

Q: Are fixer-uppers a good investment?
A: Fixer-uppers can be a good investment if you have the time, budget, and skills for renovations. They offer the potential for significant value increase and customization and allow you to make a profit for the time you put into them. However, unexpected costs and time commitments should be carefully considered. It’s key that you know what to look for and look out for.

Q: How can I estimate renovation costs for a fixer-upper?
A: Old houses have costs. To estimate renovation costs, get multiple quotes from contractors, consider material costs, and factor in potential unexpected expenses. Online calculators and consulting with experienced renovators can also provide guidance. We work with our clients throughout the process and provide them all the tools they need to manage and stay on track with their budget and get the project done on time and within budget.

Q: What are the common pitfalls to avoid when buying a fixer-upper?
A: Common pitfalls include underestimating renovation costs, overlooking hidden structural issues, failing to secure proper permits, and not having a realistic timeline. Thorough research and planning are crucial to avoid these mistakes.

Q: Can I live in a fixer-upper while renovating?
A: Living in a fixer-upper during renovations is possible but can be challenging. Consider the impact on your daily life, including noise, dust, and disruptions. In some cases, it may be more practical to arrange temporary accommodations.

Q: What are the first steps after purchasing a fixer-upper?
A: After purchasing a fixer-upper, the first steps include obtaining detailed inspections, creating a renovation plan and budget, securing necessary permits, and hiring reliable contractors. Prioritize essential repairs and improvements to make the home safe and livable.

Q: How do I choose the right projects for a fixer-upper?
A: Choose projects that add the most value and improve the home’s functionality and livability. Focus on essential repairs first, followed by aesthetic upgrades and energy-efficient improvements. Consult with a contractor or real estate professional for guidance on the best projects.

Q: What should I know about permits and zoning laws for a fixer-upper?
A: Before starting renovations, research local permitting requirements and zoning laws. These regulations can affect what changes you can make to the property. Obtain all necessary permits to ensure your renovations are compliant with local laws.

Q: How can I stay organized during a renovation project?
A: Staying organized during a renovation project involves creating a detailed plan and timeline, keeping track of expenses, maintaining clear communication with contractors, and regularly reviewing progress. Use project management tools and apps to help stay on top of tasks and deadlines.  This is one of the BIGGEST area that we help homeowners with!  And that allows them to stay on track, within budget and get their remodel done on time! (Click HERE to Learn More!)


Embarking on the journey of buying a fixer-upper is a thrilling and rewarding adventure. With the right approach and a clear understanding of the challenges and benefits, you can transform a house in need of repair into the home of your dreams. Happy renovating!

Learn How YOU Can Save THOUSANDS on Your Home Remodel~