On The Rocks

Fixing Up a House as a First-Time Homebuyer

by Bret Engle (Guest Blogger)

A new home is one of the most exciting purchases you can make, particularly for a first-time homebuyer. While there are plenty of positives to buying a new home, there is a special allure to the process of fixing up a less-than-stellar home into something extraordinary. If you are considering a fixer-upper, read on for some tips and strategies on how to make the process as efficient and positive as possible.

Decide If a Fixer-Upper Is Right for You

Before jumping in, you should first decide whether a fixer-upper is right for you. Do massive projects, blank slates, and as-yet-untapped potential excite you? Renovation allows you to create the house of your dreams. Whether that involves an open concept, a fully stocked kitchen, or lots of space to entertain guests, you will have free reign over the design. Do you have enough money set aside for the renovation process, in addition to the purchase of the house? Simple fixer-uppers that only require basic cosmetic work cost much less than houses with structural damage. The good news, though, is that fixer-uppers cost, on average, 8 percent less up front than move-in ready homes. Also keep in mind that if you intend to “flip” the house (i.e. renovate it and sell it immediately afterward), you can net a significant profit. 

Search for a Property That Fits Your Needs

Next, you’ll need to search for fixer-upper properties in your area. The easiest way is to drive around a neighborhood in a nice area looking for foreclosed properties or houses for sale with a less-than-stellar appearance or a suspiciously low asking price for the region. If you have a real estate agent, they can show you fixer-upper properties in your budget, or you can search the listings yourself online. Finally, take particular notice of foreclosed properties, auctions, and real-estate owned properties, which are the homes that have reverted to bank ownership after a failed foreclosure auction. Before buying a house, have the entire property, including the yard, inspected by a professional. The national average cost of a home inspection is $358.

Plan Your Renovation

Be realistic about your abilities beforehand — don’t choose a home that requires mostly structural work if you’re a renovation neophyte. The most important requirement for a large home renovation project is organization ability. Staying organized will help you complete each task in an adequate amount of time, on or under budget.  Begin with visualization; write down how you’d like each area of the house to look. Then, list the specific steps required to make your idea a reality. It is best to work from the outside in — your project should generally begin with the roof and foundation, with structural work, plumbing, electrical systems, walls, ceilings, and other large-scale supports following.

Afterward, you can install larger pieces, like countertops, flooring, and windows. Installing a high-quality quartz countertop can enrich, beautify, and transform your kitchen. Arc Stone & Tile offers their customers the highest-quality quartz, world-class customer service, and competitive prices. Finally, finish with aesthetic touches like paint and decor. If you’re planning to flip the house, pay extra attention to the exterior. The front door and its surrounding landscaping form each potential buyer’s first impression of the house.

Work More Efficiently with Power Tools

The process will go much more smoothly if you use the right tools for the job. Top-quality drills and drivers are critical for an efficient and effective renovation. Skip the hassle of cumbersome hand saws and get your freehand cuts done much more quickly with a jigsaw or reciprocating saw. For large quantities of similar cuts, opt for a circular saw; cheaper than table saws, circulars are one of the most versatile tools in your toolbox. Electric sanders can make each cut look professionally done. Finally, be sure to grab a portable shop vacuum to keep your workspace clean.

Whether you intend to stay and live in the house of your dreams, or if you plan to increase the returns on your investment by flipping, the process of renovating a fixer-upper can be rewarding on its own. Remain calm and organized throughout the renovation, and be sure to enjoy the ride!

Bret Engle |

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