Monday, February 03, 2014

Move-In Ready VS. Remodeling

I've been thinking about this question a lot lately.  Is it better to buy new (or move-in ready) or buy a home that needs some TLC?  Maybe I've been thinking about it because of the growing to-do list we have.  

We chose to buy and remodel.  Honestly, sometimes we kick ourselves.  Why didn't we just build? Even though we did have an inspection done before we bought the home, and were satisfied with his findings, we have had a lot of surprises in the year and a half we have lived here. 

I guess that is to be expected when you buy a fifty year old house. It is ironic that the very things that the inspector said were fine for a few more years are the very things that have given us some trouble. (Like our roof leaking, our air conditioner unit going out, and our laundry room flooding. And all that within a couple of months of each other.)  

While we have things patched and holding (for now), we have been trying to save for these rather large repairs.  We never expected we would have to do these things within the first year and a half of living here, much less all at one time. 

But, even with those things looming over our heads, I'm still of the opinion that putting some sweat equity into a tired home is the way to go. For us. For now.  I mean, that is why we bought our home in the first be able to build equity while putting our own stamp on it. 

We looked at a lot of homes before we bought this one. A lot.  In our small town, there are slim pickings in the first place.  Couple that with budget and location, and you have a difficult situation.  The elusive perfect home doesn't exist. And for me, homes that were "move-in ready" in our price range still seemed really outdated to me.  Even in the nicer neighborhoods.  So, we were stuck with the choice of building new, buying in the upper end of our price range for a move-in ready home and be stuck with not being able to upgrade as we wanted, or find a fixer and go for it. 

 Let me lay out the reasons we finally decided to purchase this home. And maybe this will help a little if you are in the market yourself. 

1.  This home had a great price for the square footage. (Price of home divided by square footage gives your price per square foot.) 
2.  The location and the large lot size. (neither are something you can change.)
3.  We saw the potential this home possessed....even if that potential isn't reached for years. 
4.  The price would allow for us to make upgrades to the home to our taste
5. Building equity through DIY improvement is very appealing to us. (We did that with our first home.  We slowly upgraded cosmetic things in the seven years we were there, and came out better for it in the end.)

If you can walk into an outdated home, see the potential, and have the skills to get it to that potential (or have the money to hire someone who does), I say buy a fixer.  If none of those things are true about you, you may be better off buying a move-in ready home where you don't have to worry about those things.  

I don't think I could purchase a home without wanting to put my own stamp on it in a big way.  Buying a fixer was best for us at the time.  If we ever move again, I'm pretty sure my hubby wants to build. But I can get my hands dirty with that, too, so I'm game. 

Let me share with you a couple of things we have learned so far. 

1. Get an inspection.  Don't buy a fixer without one.  
2. Plan for the unexpected.  This is especially true if you are buying an older home.  Surprises happen, things will need to be repaired before you expect. 
3. Paint goes a long way.  It is probably the most inexpensive way to update a room.  It really does make a huge difference in making a room look fresh. 
4. Take it one step at a time.  Get a plan.  I'm talking to myself here.  I tend to get so overwhelmed with all that I need and want to do to our home, that I get immobilized and don't know where to start.  Put it on paper.  Make a list, then get the satisfaction of checking things off. That always helps me. 

What have been your experiences with building, buying move-in ready, or remodeling?  What have you learned along the way?  Leave a comment!  I'd love to hear from you!

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