There is more than one path to your dream home. Shopping for a house, condo, or apartment is daunting in part because you have so many options. And that doesn’t just mean that there are a lot of houses you could buy (though there are) – it also means that you can consider building a new home or investing in a fixer-upper rather than searching for a home that already has everything you need.

Whatever you choose to do, remember that your work won’t be finished when you sign the mortgage. When you buy a home, you take on responsibility for all of its maintenance and repair needs. It’s important to do your homework and consider these things ahead of time, because the amount of time, money, and stress you’ll have to go through after your purchase can vary wildly based on which path you take to your dream home.

Why choose a home that needs work?

             There’s a good chance that you don’t find renovations and repairs to be fun (though some people certainly do), but there are still good reasons to consider buying a home that will need immediate work. While it would be nice if we could all waltz into our dream homes without having to tear down any walls or redo any floors, the reality is that many of us will want to see a custom solution, and that means renovation. Custom homes are also possible through new construction, but that be more expensive and may limit you to certain areas where development is still ongoing. Speaking of expense, fixer-uppers can also be less expensive than their better-maintained peers – though you should be careful to make sure you don’t get caught with a house that devours money.

So you may well want to opt for a home that needs some work. But before you do, you need to do your homework and answer two questions. First, how much are you willing to do to repair and improve a home? And second, what work exactly will your target home need?

How much will you do?

Be honest with yourself. You need to make sure that you don’t lock yourself into a project that makes you miserable, so don’t be afraid to ask tough questions about your willingness to commit to major repairs.

Not into repairs? Maybe you should consider renting. When you rent a home or an apartment, it’s the landlord who is on the hook for maintenance and repairs.

Other arrangements provide a different allocation of responsibilities. Condos like the ones you’ll find on Find Our Pad and similar sites tend to have condo associations that have rules about which repairs are your responsibility and which ones are taken on by the building. Some neighborhood developments work in similar ways.

Then there’s new construction, which can be pricey but also tends to mean fewer repairs. After all, there’s only so much a home can fall apart when it’s brand new! In some cases, you can combine these strategies. For instance, you could look at a new development that also has shared structures like townhomes (take this development, called Avivo Homes, for example).

Then there is the most common path to home ownership: buying an existing structure that is in decent shape. Well maintained homes hold their value better, which will be good news for you soon – but not yet, because for now it means you have to pay more the current owners. This solution will cost you more in repairs and maintenance than new homes or condos, but less than our last option, which is the true fixer-upper.

Know what you’re getting into

If you’re ready to tackle a fixer-upper, be smart about it. You need to really do your homework before you invest in a fixer-upper, because overly ambitious projects can easily run over their budgets. And if you’re not saving money by investing in a fixer-upper, then why didn’t you just choose to build a new home or buy one that was in great shape?

You’ll want to thoroughly inspect your project and price out every job that you can imagine performing on the property. Get in touch with contractors and get some estimates on jobs before you commit to buying the home. And don’t expect to save money by hiring cheap help – when it comes to serious jobs like home remodeling, foundation repair, and mold remediation, it’s vital to hire licensed contractors who really know what they’re doing.

Every project is different, so there’s no one-size-fits all approach to recommend here. But if you take pains to prepare a comprehensive plan and budget before you acquire the house, you can rest easy knowing that you won’t be caught off-guard if you close the deal on the property. When it comes to working on homes, it pays to do your homework.

 

 

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