How to Buy a Fixer-Upper: 3 Expert Tips

by Nancy Brenseke 01/22/2023

Buying a fixer-upper can be a DIY-lover's dream. A house with plenty of potential for improvements at a great price might seem tempting. However, there are some specific things to search for to make sure you find the right fixer-upper. Here are some tips for what to prioritize to have the best fixer-upper experience:

Be Realistic

A common pitfall of many DIY projects is an unrealistic assessment of the project's difficulty. Before taking on an enormous project like renovations for an entire fixer-upper, take some time to really think about what skills and knowledge are required for smaller home projects.

There's no rule that says you have to fix everything yourself—in fact, things like electrical and plumbing improvements should be done by a licensed professional. However, even small tasks can require skills you might not have thought of beforehand.

Prepare Your Financing

The sooner you have your financing lined up for a fixer-upper project, the sooner you'll know what renovation plans are possible. Research your loan options and make a budget that includes every part of the process. Expenses include a down payment, closing costs and materials for renovations. Many traditional mortgages will let you finance renovations in addition to the regular purchase. Otherwise, you can apply for a renovation-specific mortgage.

Get an Estimate

Even if you plan to DIY your fixer-upper renovations, hiring a professional contractor can help you spot issues you might otherwise miss. Make your own budget and estimate concerning the cost of materials and tools, but leverage the knowledge of a contractor to help you identify major expenses.

If they happen to find significant structural damage, for example, you won't be stuck with an unpleasant surprise halfway through your project. You can get an estimate for what you might need to hire out a professional while also budgeting for yourself. 

About the Author
Author

Nancy Brenseke

I love the ocean, sand and sunshine! That's why I call Hilton Head Island/Bluffton my home! I relocated to Hilton Head Island over 20 years ago from North Carolina after graduating from East Carolina University - Go Pirates! I continue to be successful in real estate for the past 13 Years and with my experience working with top resorts and gated communities, I have cultivated attention to detail, understand the importance of listening first and have the positive "Can Do" attitude in all situations. I offer my sellers and buyers the BEST advice to achieve their real estate goals. I enjoy spending time with my family boating on the May River, attending festivals along Old Town Bluffton and building sandcastles on HHI beaches.  

"Nancy Brenseke is the type of realtor that everyone should contract to sell their property. She is very knowledgeable and gave us valuable information when listing the townhome. The whole process went smoothly and Nancy was responsible for that. She always communicated with us which kept us confident that all aspects of the closing were under control and on track. I highly recommend Nancy Brenseke." ~ Deb Bluffton, SC

"I would highly recommend using Nancy for your real estate needs. She is extremely knowledgeable and responsive. Nancy's representation is top-notch." ~ Jill - Nashville, TN

"Nancy went the extra mile on everything around selling the condo. I would use her again and would recommend her to anyone I come in contact with. Our condo sold in 1 day! She was excellent and hardworker. She helped in all aspects of selling, from marketing with great number of pictures, to home inspection with helping us find contractors to fix the inspection issue so were were able to close." Eric - Cumming, GA