It is an alluring thought. Purchasing a home for next to nothing, especially compared to other home prices for the same size and type of home, and work on fixing it up. Not only are you going to get a lower purchase price, but you can make the home look the way you want it to. It sounds like a great plan but for the first-time home buyer, fixer uppers can be worrisome. It is always best to work closely with your real estate agent and other trusted experts before you make this decision. Consider some of the factors that may be risks to consider.
The Risk of the Unknown
The biggest reason many experts stay away from the fixer upper even when they are seasoned investors is that there is the risk of the unknown. A home that is in bad shape, such as needing updating and significant repairs, is one that also likely has hidden problems. That is, you simply do not know what's really happening with the plumbing, electrical, foundation, or water lines. In short, there's no real way to know what's wrong until you start working on it.
One way to combat this for the first-time home buyer is simply to have a very thorough home inspection. You'll need a home inspection that goes further than just the basic once over. This will give you a good idea of what you can expect to pay for these repairs.
Skill and Knowhow
Also important in this decision is your skill level. Are you skilled enough to handle a fixer upper's massive repair needs? You need to be able to know more than just how to paint walls or touch up plumbing problems. You'll need to know how to meet with code requirements and ensure that you are meeting all building specs. You'll need to know how to find the problem and how to fix it. That's a complex situation for anyone that does not have a lot of working knowledge of home repairs.
Keep in mind the importance of using someone that you trust and that has experience to help you to make the decision to buy a fixer upper. As a first-time home owner, you may need to invest in expertise before making this decision.
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