Move-In Ready Vs. Fixer-Upper: What to Buy?
Which is the better strategy when shopping for a new home?
Should you buy a rundown home and bring it into shape before you move in? Or should you save yourself the stress and buy a home you can move into right away?
If you are in the market for a new home, this is a question worth considering. But, before we discuss the “whys” and “why nots” of the two scenarios, why would anyone even think of buying a fixer-upper?
Although it makes no sense to a lot of buyers, buying a fixer-upper is not a bad idea, if you look at it from a price perspective. In the face of rising home prices, some buyers are turning to fixer-upper as a way to save money.
Buyers who cannot afford the home they want can still get a home similar to their dream home if they buy a fixer-upper. Because the fixer-upper is in a bad shape, it will be cheaper. The only catch is that they must be ready to put in some work to knock the home into shape.
This sounds great, except for one thing: plans that look good on paper may fail in the real world. There are many things to consider before buying a fixer-upper. Before you choose to buy a fixer-upper or move-in ready home, you should first weigh the pros and cons of both options. Only after you have done this are you in the position to make a good decision.
So, what are the reasons to buy or not to buy a fixer-upper home versus a move-in ready home?
Buying a fixer-upper
On average, buying a fixer-upper will cost you 8% less than buying a move-in ready home. Saving more on the purchase may even be more depending on the time of year you buy.
- Lower taxes
Given that property taxes are based on the purchase price of the home, the tax on a fixer-upper will be lower than the tax on a move-in ready home.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of buying a fixer-upper is you will get the home you want from the get-go. If you buy a move-in ready home, you may eventually renovate it to suit your preferences. But with a fixer-upper, you can do this from day one.
- Sweat equity
After you renovate a fixer-upper, its value will usually shoot up dramatically. You can decide to flip the home for immediate profit, suggests Bighorn Rentals.
- Runaway costs
The 8% difference between the price of a fixer-upper and a move-in ready home may not be enough to cover the cost of renovating the home. Since it is best to renovate the home to the level of homes in the neighborhood and permits may be needed, the cost of renovating a fixer-upper may exceed the budget.
- It’s a lot of work
Renovating a home takes a lot of time and energy. Even if you hire the best contractor, it also helps to have an idea of what you are doing. On average, getting the home ready can take between four to eight months.
- It is unpredictable
Even if you had a home inspection done before buying the home, a rundown home may surprise you with problems that will push your renovation costs through the roof. In addition to unpredictable costs, the renovation timeline is also unpredictable.
- Additional costs
There are additional costs when you buy a fixer-upper. After paying for the home, you still have to live somewhere until the renovations are finished. Any additional time to the renovation timetable will cost you even more.
- Hard to finance
Finally, getting financing to buy a fixer-upper is difficult. Traditional lenders will typically not lend to you. You often have to fund the purchase using a construction loan or hard money.
Buying a move-in ready home
- You can move in immediately
You can start planning your move right after you conclude the purchase of your home. There is no inconvenient waiting period between purchase and completion of the renovation.
- Easier to budget
Controlling your costs is easier when you are buying a move-in ready home. You know how much the home will cost, as well as the other costs involved in the purchase
- Financing is straightforward
With a move-in ready home, you only need your credit history, a good source of income, and money for the down payment/closing costs to access funding for the home.
A move-in ready home is more expensive. If you don’t have enough money to buy the home you want, you may have to settle for something smaller.
- No room for customization
You are stuck with the style and design of the home when you buy a move-in ready home. You have no room to alter the home to your taste until after the purchase.
So, should you buy a move-in ready home or a fixer-upper? There is no easy answer. The right answer will be different for everyone. But in the end, it depends on your appetite for risk and how much time and energy you have.
Brian Chandler of RE/MAX Alliance in Parker Colorado specializes in homes for sale and consulting with homebuyers on current housing inventory. Brian is a Top Agent Realtor with over 40 years of sales experience.