Ah, the dream of owning a home. It’s a familiar concept to a great many of us, and especially in a happening city like New York. And while the idea of buying a beautiful, turn-key apartment in a trendy downtown area may seem like the perfect package, the price-tag of such an apartment tends to be not quite as dreamy. As a result, there has been a rising interest in purchasing a home in less than perfect condition with intent to renovate it on your own dime and on your own time. In some cases, this can work out pretty well if you are decently handy around the house. For the rest of us though, without 10+ years carpentry experience, we can find ourselves in hot water faster than we thought possible.
So when deciding on a fixer upper, here are a few things to keep in mind. If your potential apartment or house shows any of these characteristics, it may be time to look elsewhere.
1.) Does the house have lasting damage? Sure that little crack in the foundation may seem like a minor problem, but it could be enough to condemn your home in the future. Then again, that little crack may just be a crack in the paint, which is really nothing to worry about. A flat roof? Termites? Dust and mold? Even a rat infestation may take hours and hours (read: dollars and dollars) of man power to eradicate. It’s well worth it to hire an inspector beforehand to make sure you know what you’re getting into, and for the most of us, these are problems too big to solve ourselves.
2.) What condition are the elements of the house in? Namely, the cooling and heating elements. Along with your first inspection, but sure to have an HVAC professional come in to take a look at the condition of your furnace and pumps. What’s even more important though, is that they check to make sure everything is connected and functioning! As sad as it is, telling the future homeowner the furnace is brand new often proves to be enough to ease their minds. Later though, this poor guy would come to learn that any pipes leaving the house aren’t attached to anything, meaning any kind of hookups (usually a couple thousand dollars) are going to be coming out of his paycheck.
3.) How much time can you realistically spend doing these repairs? Make sure you think long and hard about these possibilities. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you have loads of free time to spend renovating your bathroom, and regardless of how much experience you have doing these things that doesn’t mean you have the extra time to do it now. In addition, how long will you be able to live with this part of your home temporarily out of order? Is there a shower at your gym you can use while yours isn’t functional? Is that gym 40 minutes away? This brings me to my next point:
4.) Are the cost of the renovations worth what you’re saving in the original cost? Scoring a great deal is one thing, but scoring a great deal on a bare and broken shoebox is quite another. Draw out your budget beforehand so you know what your maximum price is for a turn-key home and what your maximum price is for a fixer upper (materials, workers, etc). Also keep in mind your intended quality of living. If you like things a bit more luxurious than the average homeowner, be sure to account for it in your budget.
5.) When can you move in? If the work means you won’t be able to move in for a few weeks (maybe a few months) can you afford to pay for two places at once? If so, how long? Renovations often uncover other issues the homeowner was unaware of, meaning the time table tends to be longer than expected.
For more information about New York real estate, or just real estate questions in general, make sure you stop by our site at www.ardorny.com!
What are you wary of in a fixer upper?