December 1, 2023

Is a Fixer-Upper Home Purchase Right for You?

3 min read
Is a Fixer-Upper Home Purchase Right for You?

Are you a frequent watcher of home improvement shows? Is your Pinterest board full of home-flipping ideas? Or perhaps you have a folder full of saved Reels from Instagram that makes flipping that bus into a home seem so easy in less than a minute? Then you are probably looking for a fixer-upper. But a quick 60-second reel, an edited television show and the quick before-and-after pictures do not show everything in between.

Before you go down that path of reverie with farmhouse sinks and the release of demo-day aggression, you might truly ask yourself whether this type of undertaking is reasonable for your specific situation.

Fixer-uppers have attractive home prices. Especially in the recent market, a fixer-upper shouldn’t be purchased without a trained professional doing a walk-through to determine the exact renovations the home will need to make it livable. This will help you make a reasonable estimate of what extra cost you would have to invest on top of the sales price, as well as a timeline of how long it would take to complete the necessary repairs.

Does your military lifestyle of frequent moves and high operational tempos allow for the time to DIY?

The next step is if you will be doing weekend warrior work, or you will be hiring experts to do the work. If you are doing the work yourself, that will save you money, but it may take longer to complete the work due to your work schedule. If you will have to hire out the work, you will be at the mercy of contracted workers’ timelines and higher costs. Be honest with yourself — do you have the skillset, time and financial ability to do a fixer-upper?

Can you sustain your normal quality of life while living in a state of incompletion during renovations? Is it safe for you and your family to do so?

This consideration of time might be the most important beyond the cost. Can you comfortably live in the home before the transformation is complete? There is a great difference between updating some flooring room by room, versus gutting your kitchen and bathrooms for a project that could take months to complete.

In balance, there are advantages to taking on such a home project! The first reason that is most thought about is the potential profit made when you sell the home in the future. If you are indeed buying the worst house on the block to transform it into something great, you stand to earn a huge payout when you do sell. There’s also the potential personalization, but remember if you are going to sell the home, whatever personalization you do should appeal to a broader audience. There is also the enjoyment factor of hard work and the satisfaction of completing a meaningful project with your own two hands.

There are five factors to consider as you look at a fixer-upper:


  • Determine what actual amount of work needs to be completed.
  • How much those repairs and renovations cost.
  • Determine what skills you will be able to offer.
  • Determine the timeline for the renovation and if your family can make it work.
  • Determine if you would at least financially break even.

This article originally appeared in the Millie Journal.

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