For the most part, flipping houses on home improvement reality TV shows looks like a piece of cake. You know how the storyline goes: a couple buys a fixer-upper that needs a lot of work, they begin renovating it, they discover a problem and end up needing more money than they planned, yet miraculously, everything somehow works out in the end. There’s usually footage showing the dramatic difference between what the fixer-upper looked like before being renovated and after, and it can be inspiring enough to make you say, “Hey, I want to do something like that.”
That’s the magic of good TV production and editing. In real life, fixer-uppers can be a lot of work compared to houses that are already move-in ready. Whether or not you buy a house that needs a lot of repairs depends on many different factors. Here’s a list of pros and cons of fixer-uppers and move-in ready houses.
Pros of Fixer-Upper Homes
Lower Sales Prices
You can find a great deal on a fixer-upper. If you come across one that’s in a pricey neighborhood and you’re willing to put in what it takes to restore it, you could end up paying just a fraction of what your soon-to-be new neighbors did for their homes.
In some hot real estate markets, sellers of move-in ready houses are getting multiple offers from different buyers trying to outbid one another. But there’s generally less competition for fixer-uppers than for move-in ready houses. In turn, that can give you more negotiating leverage with sellers.
Buyers have more creative control over fixer-uppers than move-in ready homes. With a fixer-upper, you can customize a house’s layout and details of each room. If you’re a hands-on type of person who enjoys taking on home improvement projects, when the house is finished, you may take pride in knowing that you did a lot of the work.
Cons of Fixer-Upper Homes
If you’re planning on doing most of the work yourself, remodeling can take a lot of time, so it’s important to have patience and have somewhere else to live in the meantime. Even if you hire a contractor to do the work, it’s still going to take a longer amount of time for a fixer-upper to be move-in ready compared to buying a house that’s already in move-in ready condition.
While sales prices for fixer-uppers may be lower than move-in ready houses, at times the cost to repair a fixer-upper may not be worth it. This is especially true if you run into any hidden issues, like structural damage or mold, which could wreak havoc on the budget you’d already set for repairs.
Pros of Move-In Ready Houses
Buying a move-in ready house requires much less work than a fixer-upper, so it may be a better choice if you’re on a tight deadline to move into a house or you’re not exactly a DIY kind of person.
Often More Up-to-Date
In today’s competitive market, move-in ready houses are more likely to come with modern features and trends, like open floor plans, updated appliances and eco-friendly options. Transforming a fixer-upper to have these same features, on the other hand, could take a lot of work (and money).
There’s always a slight risk of running into hidden problems when you buy a home, like structural issues, mold or critter infestations. But with a newer, move-in ready house, you’re much less likely to encounter these.
Cons of Move-In Ready Houses
Less Creative Control
There’s not much room for customization with move-in ready homes, other than choosing décor. If you’re not thrilled with the design or layout of a house you’re considering, you’ll have to pay more to have changes made or accept the house as is.
Sales prices of move-in ready homes don’t exactly rival the sales prices of fixer-uppers. There’s no way around it: you’re going to be paying more for a move-in ready house.
Types of Renovation Loans
Whether you want to buy a fixer-upper or a move-in ready house, you have options with PrimeLending. We offer a wide variety of loan products for different budgets and financial goals. Learn more about your options using the PrimeLending Renovation Guide.