How to Know if a Fixer Upper Needs Too Much Fixing (Video)

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How To Know If A Fixer Upper Needs Too Much Fixing

The term “fixer upper” may often strike fear in the hearts of home buyers. There are no strict measures in defining exactly what a fixer upper is. It could mean a historical house in need of minor repairs or it could mean a run down house with sagging floors, a leaky roof and a serious foundation problem. You need to do your homework and utilize your professional network.

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Still, fixer uppers represent a great way for some home buyers to move up into larger homes at a fraction of the cost, provided their willingness to accept the effort and costs needed to make the necessary repairs and improvements the home needs. Don’t let the term “fixer upper” discourage you from considering them in your search of buying a home.

By all means, consider these homes during your house hunting escapade, but you should take your time and carefully look into all of the repairs needed in order to make the house a home.

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More importantly, you will need to figure out how much it will cost you. A seemingly great bargain can turn into the money pit if you don’t do your homework. Always hire a home inspector and if major problem present themselves, and you still want to move forward, hire a specialist to investigate further (i.e. an electrician, foundation expert, a barn builder to assess an old barn for example).

In your quest for a fixer upper, you can check out various real estate web sites on the internet and in your local newspaper. Even if you’re new to house hunting, you will shortly learn frequent discrepancies in between a house that seems too good to be true and reality. A great real estate agent would obviously be a great asset in helping you find that perfect gem!


Even if you pull up to a house that seems to live up to the promises that were advertised, have your real estate agent take you inside the house for a walk through so you can get a better look.

Many fixer upper houses can look extremely appealing on the outside, when the inside can be a completely different story. You will learn soon enough how to recognize fixer upper houses that are worth further investigation and the houses that are not.

If a house is in need of a substantial number of repairs, don’t let the prospect of a great buy tempt you into ignoring the house’s problems. Many fixer uppers can appear intoxicating, when buyers are looking for the greatest deal in town! Sometimes there is a good reason it is the ‘greatest deal in town’. Prudence goes a long way in this situation.

How To Know If A Fixer Upper Needs Too Much Fixing

Sometimes the seller of the fixer upper may try to make the problems seem less complicated or try to convince you that the repairs will be an easy fix to make a quick sale. They may also try to discourage you from having an appraisal on the house, where the appraisers may be able to find more problems in the house and therefore reduce the value of the house even more.

All in all, do your due diligence.

Some Pro Tips (If You Aren’t a Seasoned Pro Investor):

  • Never let a seller pressure you into buying a fixer upper or offer you a special once in a life time deal if you agree to buy the house right then and there.
  • Never make a same day decision when buying a house.

Buying a house is an important financial commitment that should not be taken lightly and should be carefully considered. Buyers need to allow themselves enough time to consider how much work, time and money it will cost them before committing to a house. You’ll be surprised how much different that great buy will seem after a day or so of consideration and after looking at other potential houses.

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Other questions to ask are:

  • What have other properties sold for in and around your fixer-upper?
  • Is there enough margin to make a profit?
  • Are there any other fixer upper houses in the neighborhood?
  • Have any other nearby houses been renovated and sold?
  • What do you expect to get for the house if you renovate it and decide to sell it?

There is nothing more aggravating to a home owner than renovating a home with the intent to make a profit, only to discover the real estate market had turned bad. If home values are depreciating, the home you purchase may be worth less than you originally paid for it even after all the hard work of making the home improvements and repairs. Get some sound advice and always buy low.

How To Know If A Fixer Upper Needs Too Much Fixing


Once you find your dream fixer upper and have already been pre-approved for a mortgage, you can start working your way through the process, but take it one step at a time and lean on those with the most experience around you. Don’t try to be an overnight expert when there are people available to help with years of experience.

At the end of the day, you make your money when you buy the house. Meaning, if you can buy it cheap enough, and the repairs cost less than what you could sell it for after you fix it up (even if you are not flipping in it), than you will have a great experience. It comes down to the numbers – not emotion. Never buy with emotion.