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SAVVY BUYERS SEARCH OUT FIXER-UPPERS!

Excerpted from an article by PJ Wade for realtytimes.com

“Instead of shopping for your dream home, why not search out your dream discount?

First-time buyers, even experienced buyers, can be distracted by the superficial….enticed to pay more for dream-home fantasies or, encouraged to walk away from a hidden gem…

Buy a home which was cleverly staged and marketed to make buyers rush to put in an offer, and you may be paying more for the hype and a distracting “veneer.”  Dismiss a property because it needs work and TLC without assessing its true value, and you may lose a lot more (a house you can really make your own).

A “visual disaster” (or fixer-upper) could be a solid, well-located home that  is structurally sound and in relatively good condition, but – and it’s a big but – it looks (and possibly smells) bad – and is selling at a significant discount.  Smart sellers and their real estate agents know the magic of fresh paint, the allure of staged interiors, and the appeal of cosmetic make-overs.  They understand which current “hot” features for which buyers are willing to pay more.

Buyers who would prefer to invest their money in the best possible location and a solid, sound structure,. – not superficial trimmings and flash done to someone else’s taste and standards – may benefit from shopping for a fixer-upper.

CAUTION:  Thorough home inspection, ideally by a structural engineer, is essential to verify the home is structurally sound without any super-expensive repair necessary.  Other experienced “eyes” – contractors, designers, renovation-experienced property owners, your real estate professional – will also be helpful when viewing these homes.

Tasteless decor, scary color schemes, extreme pet smells, overwhelming clutter…these are just a few ugly turnoffs that discourage buyers.  For savvy home buyers, these negatives may signal hidden value and money-saving opportunity.  Also, these properties may have been on the market for a long time, so there could be more room for negotiation.

Buyers who are ready to contribute “sweat equity” to their purchase can end up thousands and thousands of dollars ahead.  “Sweat equity” involves getting your hands dirty to uncover good bones and hidden value, or paying a professional to do the necessary design or physical work, or a combination of both approaches.

…New owners can decide to live with some or all of the “problems” for awhile – then hire professionals to make the necessary changes.  Having lived in the home awhile, owners discover what will really work for them.

Here are a few common visual disasters to keep an eye out for:

COLOR ME CRAZY…Learn to visualize beyond crazy decor to discover value.

TIRED AND SEVERELY DATED…a “refreshed” property – scrape away the grime, deal with paneling overkill, paint with your color choices, and refinish floors or add new carpeting – can really sparkle!

STINKY PREMISES…Animal smells and discoloration from long-term smoking are two definite buyer turn offs.  Many buyers can’t get past a dirty property.  Remove the carpet and have the building professional sanitized or tackle some cleaning yourself.  There’s value under all of that ugh.

WHAT-WERE-YOU-THINKING???-DESIGN…If it’s one bad feature and the home is otherwise sound, get a couple of quotes on fixing the problem.  Your real estate pro will understand how your offer can reflect this extra cost – either a lower offer price and you pay for it, or ask the seller to make the repair or at least share or credit you the cost.

STREET-SIDE UGLY…If the yard is a mess and the property is unappealing from the curb, many buyers will stay in their cars.  Concentrate on where the value lies:  location and structural soundness.  Get a quote or two on improving landscaping or correcting the street face to back up your offer price.  Later, you can decide how much to do yourself.

TALK TO YOUR REAL ESTATE PRO, FRIENDS, FAMILY, AND LOCAL CONTRACTORS TO GET A FEEL FOR WHAT MAY WORK IN YOUR AREA. 

COLLECT A FEW BALLPARK QUOTES FOR PAINTING, CLEANING, AND OTHER POSSIBLE UNDERTAKINGS TO GET AN ACCURATE FEEL FOR COSTS BEFORE YOU START LOOKING AT PROPERTIES. 

PULL TOGETHER A TEAM OF EXPERIENCED PEOPLE YOU CAN CALL ON FOR KNOWLEDGEABLE INPUT, SO YOU’LL BE READY WHEN A POSSIBLE FIXER-UPPER/GOOD VALUE APPEARS.”

SOURCE:  PJ Wade for realtytimes.com   IMAGE:  Pinterest

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