Do you want to buy a house that needs renovation or is ready to move into? (2023)

If you're in the market for your first home, a repair might sound appealing. These properties are heavily discounted prices because they need a lot of repairs or updates. In today's market, where saving for a home is a challenge for many people, affordability is a huge plus for home repairmen. Other buyers might be interested in the potential earnings of moving houses, perhaps inspired by reality TV.

On the other hand, the allure of a move-in ready home is undeniable and can even be a relief after a lengthy home search process. When you buy a move-in ready home, you won't have to wonder how much you'll spend on renovations or how long it will take.

Whether you're looking for a renovation-ready home or a move-in-ready home, there are pros and cons. Learn about the specific challenges of each type of home so you can decide which type of property is right for your first home.

main conclusions

  • Buying a fixer-upper house can be a more affordable option for your first home.
  • Repairers require more preparation, work, and time than buying a move-in-ready home and may have hidden costs.
  • You can finance home improvements in a number of ways, including through special mortgages or personal loans.
  • If you can't complete the job yourself, you'll need a reliable contractor for repairs or renovations.

What is the difference between houses that need repairs and houses ready to move in?


A fixer-upper house is a property that requires substantial repairs or updates to make it comfortable. Typically sells for less than a similar home in better condition. May also be called "reindeer," "distressed property," "reversed and repaired property," "pinball house", the "rehabilitation house".

"It's a much longer process than what they show on TV," Mindy Jensen, community manager at real estate investment website BiggerPockets, told The Balance. Jensen is also a real estate agent who trades houses. "And they're not showing all the problems they've found."


Homes that are in need of repair may require major repairs, such as replacement of walls, floors, or a roof. Or they may need less extensive work, such as painting or redecorating. They often sell for lower prices due to the additional time and costs required for property improvements.

People often buy a repair cover because they want to save money on their home or they want to make a profit by renovating and reselling it.

Move-In Ready Homes

The term "move-in-ready" may be a bit of a misnomer as it encompasses many degrees of readiness, but in the simplest sense, a move-in-ready home is one that requires little or no maintenance before the new owner can move in. in. . in. Many have been recently renovated to be competitive in the market. In theory, if you buy a move-in-ready home, you could start loading up your furniture and living there right after you close on escrow.


model housesin subdivisions or condominiums they are occasionally sold to homebuyers and in some cases may even come with model furnishings and decor.

(Video) Should Home Buyers Buy A Remodeled or Fixer Upper Home? (PROS & CONS)

Pros and cons of a Fixer-Upper

Homebuyers can find substantial savings when purchasing a bra top, but they can also face significant challenges that can cost time and money. Here are some pros and cons of buying a fixer-upper as your first home:


  • It can be hard to find

  • can cause stress

  • May cost more than expected

  • Requires construction skills or a contractor.

    (Video) How to get a renovation loan when buying a home

Advantages Explained

  • cheaper purchase price: Repairs are usually much cheaper than similar houses that don't need as many repairs. Remember to factor in the cost of the renovation when calculating your total savings.
  • Availability of special mortgage programs: There are many ways to finance the upgrades a top fixer needs. For example, special financing programs allow you to transfer renovation costs to your mortgage.
  • More room for creativity and customization: By completing substantial renovations, you can customize the space however you like.

Cons Explained

  • It can be hard to find: You can find repairmen on a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) through a real estate agent, real estate listing sites like Zillow or Trulia, or throughoff-market listings🇧🇷 Finding the right bra for you can take longer because they are less common.
  • can cause stress: Home renovations can be frustrating and even strain relationships if you're working with a friend or family member.
  • May cost more than expected: Too often, a renovation project doesn't go as planned, Jensen said. Home improvements often take much longer and cost more money than you might expect.
  • Requires construction skills or a contractor.: If you are not handy with tools, you will need to hire a reputable contractor. Searching for contractors in your area takes time if you don't already have an established network.

Pros and cons of a move-in ready home

Advantages Explained

  • predictable costs: When you buy a move-in ready home, you know that essential services like electrical and plumbing systems are intact and working. Previoushome inspectionsDuring the home buying process you will also have solved possible structural problems. So there probably won't be a need for surprise maintenance once you move in, and any additional costs are up to you.
  • Don't wait to move: Ready-to-move-in homes are usually newly renovated. You won't have to wait for a home improvement crew to paint cabinets or install carpeting. You can move in immediately.

Cons Explained

  • More expensive: Convenience comes at a cost. When buying a move-in ready home, you will pay much more than a superior home of similar size in the same location. Many sellers actually renovate their homes before putting them on the market to increase the sales price.
  • difficult to customize: It's not uncommon to want to apply custom features to a move-in-ready home or renovate it after you've purchased it, but a move-in-ready home doesn't have the same "blank slate" appeal of a fixer-up top. In other words, it can be hard to justify tearing down walls or reflooring when the existing walls and floors are fine.

How to buy a repairable top

Buying your first home is a learning experience. However, if you plan to buy a home that needs fixing, be prepared for a significant amount of more work than the standard buying process for a move-in-ready home.

Find a top repairer

Your first challenge is to find a repairable top to buy. You can use the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) through a real estate agent or check real estate listing sites like Zillow or Trulia. You can also check postings on Craigslist or websites for local properties for sale by owner.

One strategy many real estate investors use is to drive around the neighborhoods that interest them and look for potential fixers.


If you find a property that appears to be in less than perfect condition, you can find out who owns it by looking at public records. You can also see if it was recently sold or not. You can send the landlord a letter stating that he is interested in buying the property.

(Video) Do You NEED A Permit For House Renovations?

Evaluate renewal requirements

Repairs can be more expensive than buying a house in good condition if you don't plan accordingly. In some cases, a home may require more work than you can afford or have the time to invest. How do you know if a particular house for repair issuitable for your budget?

To get a general estimate, evaluate the property in detail before agreeing to buy it, perhaps with the help of a real estate professional and a certified home inspector. Take a thorough inventory of the improvements that will be needed.

"Start with the big stuff," Jensen said. "Is the furnace working? What about the ceiling? Go down to the basement or basement and really look at the walls. Do you see any cracks that have cracked and moved?"

Estimated costs and completion time

Once you know what you need to do, you'll need to estimate how muchtime is moneyThese things will need to be fixed, either you do it yourself or hire a contractor, Jensen said.

Estimate the cost of each upgrade, then compare the total costs to your savings from buying a similar property that doesn't need upgrades. If you're buying a home for profit, you'll want to dig into the cost of a specific renovation versus what it adds to resale value.


If you can't do the work yourself, get cost estimates from contractors and factor those expenses into your total home improvement budget.

How to finance a house that needs repairs

There are many ways to finance a broker, including special mortgages, loans, or gifts. There are also several ways to finance move-in-ready homes, but not even the same niche programs are accessible to fixers. Here are some examples of common programs that can help finance a renovation project.

FHA 203(k) Rehabilitation Loan

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development offers two types of rehabilitation loans through its 203(k) Rehabilitation Loan Program. The standard 203(k) mortgage allows buyers to finance major repairs of at least $5,000, including demolition.

The limited 203(k) mortgage allows homebuyers to finance up to $35,000 on their mortgage for improvements and repairs.You can use the funds, for example, to make cosmetic repairs, like installing new carpeting or repainting.

Prestamo HomeStyle by Fannie Mae

de Fannie MaeHomeStyle Loanoffers financing of up to 75% of the value of the finished house and can be used for any project. It can be used to finance accessory projects, such as in-law suites or basement apartments.

VA Loan

Mortgages with the US Department of Veterans Affairs have several advantages, including the ability to include renovation and repair costs in a mortgage loan. You will need to be a service member, veteran, or surviving spouse of a veteran to secure these loans.

(Video) Do I need a permit for my renovation?

Other financing methods

You may prefer to use apersonal loanalthough this typically comes with a higher interest rate than mortgages.


You can finance a reform with acredit card that offers 0% APRLimited Time. If you pay at the end of the promotional period, you basically have a free loan. Otherwise, however, you could face a significantly higher interest rate than with other financing options.

Many home improvement stores offerdeferred interest credit cardsThey work similarly to 0% APR cards. If you pay on time, you will not earn interest.


Buying a home to repair as your first home can save you a lot of money, so it can be ideal for people on a tight budget. If you'd rather avoid work and are willing to pay a higher price, a move-in ready home might be more your style.

Either way, keep your budget in mind when planning upgrades and renovations so costs don't exceed your savings. If you're interested in home improvement projects or want to make a profit trading homes, a fixer-upper house might be a good fit. "You can buy rehab and be successful doing it," Jensen said. "It depends on your level of experience, your level of practicality [and] the level of rehab needed for the house."

Be honest with yourself about your level of experience and your ability to handle stress. "It's not going to go according to plan," Jensen said. "It will definitely take longer than you think and cost more."

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What should I start fixing first after buying a repair top?

Once you've ruled out what will be replaced, consider starting by painting the walls, replacing the flooring, or any otherOther projectsthis can create smoke. That way, you'll have more time to air out the house before you move in. Make sure basic systems like plumbing and heating are working safely before you move.

Can I get a bigger loan when I buy a house to repair?

Yes, you can get a bigger mortgage with a repair person. Some loan programs, such as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)203(k) program, allow you to transfer the cost of renovations to the mortgage. These mortgages often require more work, such as completing more paperwork or finding approved counselors to manage your renovation funds.

(Video) Before you buy a renovation property... do your area research!

What types of improvements will increase the value of my home?

The majorityrenovations and upgradesThey translate to an increase in the value of your home (as long as they're tasteful), but some offer more for your money than others. For the best return on investment, focus on functional upgrades in key high-use areas like bathrooms and kitchens. New appliances are always an added value. If you're doing cosmetic renovations, focus on high-visibility features (flooring, garage doors, exterior paint) and avoid trends.


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