Finding the right fixer upper that adds value and is not an utter money pit is very important!
My inspiration for this article came from a conversation I had with a woman on Military Facebook page (a great and rich resource that I highly recommend). She asked me how I picked our houses since I told her we don’t buy flips.
We buy the ugliest house in the best location and school district. Location is key as that cannot be changed. While this is your home, now it will eventually be a rental.
Because of this, it is important that you buy a house with good bones. Bad bones are expensive to fix and add very limited value — in other words, bad bones can be a money pit. People assume the house has good electricity, plumbing, and roof, but if the house doesn’t, it can cost you big bucks to fix or replace. You are better off buying a more expensive home with good bones than having to hire a contractor later.
Choosing a House that Won’t be a Money Pit
I look for a home either 7-10 years old or something with the following:
- Newer Roof
- Water Heater
- New A/C System
On the other hand, there are many fixes that you can buy at a STEEP discount that are easy and cheap — material wise — to fix yourself.
- Closet Doors
- Garage Doors
When we began gutting our first house, I thought many of the updates were going to cost thousands of dollars. In the TV shows, you hear $30,000 for a kitchen remodel and $15,000 for a bathroom. Sounds like a money pit! But that doesn’t have to be the case.
We totally updated our master bathroom with things like a fan, faucets, flooring, mirror, lights, and a shower. We put in a duel headed shower and upgraded glass shower for $4,000. We preserved the vanity and toilet, and did it ourselves. This let us do an upgrade for very little money, and it took us only three months worth of weekends and my husband’s spare time.
I upgraded the kitchen while my husband was on TDY for $200. I painted all the cabinets and put new hardware on it. We put in new lights and painted the doors. It was suddenly a new kitchen along with a clean coat of complimenting paint on the walls.
Another huge turn off is curb appeal. I have heard of buyers who won’t even get out of the car if the house is not pretty on the outside. Another person got a house $30,000 under value because the pictures weren’t pretty with horrible curb appeal. Did you know that having nice curb appeal can be cheap?
We have learned to look past cosmetic damage and closely at structure. We find an amazing realtor who we trust to point us to a great inspector. The inspector is the key to telling us what is cosmetically ugly and what we really need to run from.
Using this model, we have been very successful buying houses with very little down as personal property and pure investments and having instant equity. In other words, no money pit!
Did you ever mistakenly buy a money pit?6
Ayodeji K. says
Great advice! Thanks for sharing, your website is awesome. Very clean, simple, and charming.