So you want to own a home but you can’t spend a fortune? Or maybe you’d just like to remodel a home to perfectly fit your lifestyle. No matter what the reason, you’ve decided a fixer upper is right for you. No matter what housing market you’re buying in, finding a home in need of some TLC will generally pay off, as long as you do it right. Here are the important things to know before buying your diamond in the rough:

Always get an inspection – We cannot stress this enough. For some reason, it seems that rehabbers think that they’ll be putting work into the property anyways, so they can handle little issues as they come up. This is not the right way to buy a fixer upper. You could easily stumble across foundation issues, electrical problems or a whole laundry list of other costly problems. Having your property inspected allows you to minimize unexpected costs and allows you to budget more accurately.

Budgeting – If you plan on hiring a contractor for certain jobs, seek out estimates before purchasing the property. Unless you’re very familiar with the housing issue and the exact cost of the fix, it’s better to get an estimate before buying the place. If not, you run the risk of underestimating or even overlooking a major expense.

Location – Ever hear the term “location, location, location”? It’s the law of the land in real estate. Location is one of the only things about your property that you will never be able to change. Make sure your home is exactly where you want to be living, or in a desirable neighborhood for resale value.

Don’t Over improve – Make sure the neighborhood supports your remodel. Simply put, you never want to be the most expensive home on the block. If you over improve for the neighborhood, you’ll most likely never see that money when you resell.

Layout – Similar to location, one of the only things you can’t change (or shouldn’t, at least) is the layout of your house. Does the property flow awkwardly? Are all the bedrooms upstairs, when you’ve always wanted to live on the ground floor? What about the bathrooms, are they in weird places like off of a kitchen or dining room? Buying the right layout is very important when fixing up a property because moving bathrooms, laundry rooms and closets can be a very costly process.

For more info and tips about the home buying process, visit our Baker real estate blog at PorchLight.

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