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Fixer Upper vs. Move-In Ready: Which One Is Right For You?

When it comes to buying real estate, you want to make sure the property you purchase is the right fit for your needs. For some buyers, purchasing a home that needs some work is the ideal situation. For others, getting a turnkey home that’s move-in ready is the only option they’ll consider. And for still others, both seem like reasonable options.

The question is: which is for you? There are pros and cons to both fixer uppers and move-in ready homes. The important thing is to recognize which is the best fit for you, your budget, and what you want out of a home.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of fixer-uppers and move-in ready homes to help you determine which is the better fit for you:

Fixer-Uppers:

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Fixer uppers are, as the name implies, homes that need a bit of TLC – or fixing up – upon move in.

PROS

Discounted price
The major draw of fixer-uppers is the price. Since they need work, you can typically get a fixer-upper at a fraction of the cost of a move-in ready home of a similar size or in a similar location. So if you’re on the hunt for a bargain or you have a tight budget, a fixer-upper is definitely going to be the least expensive home-buying option.

You can make the house your own
Since a fixer-upper will need work and renovations, it does offer the opportunity to put your own stamp on the design and layout and really make the house your own. With a move-in ready home, the work has already been done and the home already designed. With a fixer-upper, you get the opportunity to build your home from the ground up with everything from flooring and cabinetry to landscaping and windows.

It’s a project
For people who are interested in home renovation, there’s nothing better than a fixer-upper. Taking on the challenge of completely transforming a home is a really exciting prospect for a lot of people, and if you’re in that camp, a fixer-upper is a great opportunity to take on a worthwhile project.

CONS

It can get expensive
Even though the purchase price of a fixer-upper is typically low, if there is a significant amount of problems with the property or changes that need to be made, it can definitely get expensive. Things like repairing electric, adding a new roof, tearing up and installing new flooring, and redoing a kitchen can get pricey, and if you’re not careful, you can find yourself way over budget, swimming in contractor bills with no end to your renovations in sight.

It takes time
Even if you’re a person who loves renovating homes, there’s no escaping the fact that it takes time. If you need to move into your home quickly, a fixer-upper isn’t going to be the right fit.

Move-in Ready:

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Move-in ready homes are recently built, updated, or remodeled homes that need next to nothing in terms of renovations or improvements. You can comfortably move in without making a single change.

PROS

It’s convenient
In terms of convenience, you can’t beat a move-in ready home. Moving can be a stressful process, and for many new homeowners, the last thing they want to do upon moving into their new home is to start managing a bunch of renovations. With a move-in ready home, once you move in, you’re done. While you may want to make some cosmetic changes down the road (like painting the walls or changing the flooring), there’s nothing that needs to get done after you move.

Better energy efficiency
Newer, move-in ready homes tend to be more energy efficient, which is not only better for the environment, but also better for your utility costs. Energy efficient homes require less energy to heat the home during the winter and cool the home during the summer, which can end up saving you a significant amount of money in the long run.

CONS

Home prices are higher
When you buy a move-in ready home, you’re paying for the convenience. Move-in ready homes will always be significantly more expensive than fixer-uppers in the same neighborhood and of the same size. If you have a tight budget, you might have to make some sacrifices to purchases a move-in ready home, like buying a smaller house or buying in a less popular neighborhood.

The “cookie cutter” effect
When you buy a move-in ready home, everything has already been done for you. Which is certainly convenient, but it can lack originality, charm, and the architectural and decor details you might want in a home. Newer homes sometimes feel more generic and “cookie cutter” than their older counterparts, so if charm and individuality are important for you, a move-in ready home might not feel like the best fit.

Fixer uppers and move-in ready homes both have unique benefits and challenges. Ultimately, you have to go with the choice that best aligns with your budget, your needs, and your long-term goals for your home.

I’ve created a free guide to help my clients properly prepare for purchasing a home. If you’re thinking about buying a home in the near future (or ever…), grab a copy! The Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide

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No Down Payment? No Problem. You Can Buy A House With A Down Payment of $0

Most potential homeowners believe that in order to purchase a home they’ll need to come up with at least 20% for the down payment. And with the median price of homes in the US at $240,900, that’s a whopping $48,000. For many, coming up with that kind of cash just isn’t possible.

But while you traditionally needed a substantial down payment in order to secure a loan, today there are plenty of ways to become a homeowner—even if you haven’t saved a penny for a down payment.

In a recent video, the team at Realtor.com break down a few options available for potential buyers looking to buy a home without a substantial down payment. One option is a mortgage from the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office, which provides 0% down payment mortgages to buyers in towns with populations of 10,000 or less (which covers 97% of the US!). Other options include mortgages from credit unions, VA loans, and down payment assistance programs. In addition to the options outlined in the video, nontraditional lending options like FHA loans are also a great way to purchase a home without breaking the bank with a down payment.

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The BEST Way To Be Superdad For Your Children During Their Home-Buying Experience

So your kid is out there looking to buy a house.

You think to yourself, “I know she’s not a ‘kid’ anymore…”

But…she’s still your kid.

It’s hard to just stand by and watch. You want to step in and make sure she doesn’t make a mistake or spend too much.

You can’t believe the prices of houses she’s looking at. You felt like the prices were high when you bought your first home, and now…now they’re just crazy. Who can afford these prices?

Everything she’s looking at are absolute money-pits. You feel like most of these houses are basically tear-downs.

And you’re pretty sure the agent she’s working with is just in it for the money…

Pushing her to make a quick decision.
Pushing her to go to the highest price she can afford.
Pushing her to make a decision before you chime in.
Pushing you away…so you can’t chime in and stop your daughter from making a mistake.

You have every right to feel this way

You’re a dad. You’re there for your kids, even once they’re an adult.

You’re there to help pick up the pieces if they fall. But, better yet…you’re there to help avoid pieces ever falling, and needing to be picked up.

And you’re right…

Real estate prices are higher than when you bought your first home. (And, yes, prices were high back then. It’s all relative.)

Many of the homes your kid has to choose from probably do need lots of work. Even the best of them might not be as nice as what you’re able to own and afford.

And, maybe the real estate agent is being “pushy” with your kid.

Annnnd…maybe the agent is pushing you away. Keeping you at arm’s length…

They have a right to feel this way

You aren’t the real estate agent’s client. Their duty is not to you. Your child is their adult client. And they also have a duty to protect them. Even from you (harsh as that may sound)…

Unfortunately, many dads (and, to be fair, many moms, too) have set the precedent.

Dads can be deal-killers. And not in the heroic you-saved-the-day kinda way.

Sometimes agents come across as being pushy but are just expressing a need for urgency in a fast-moving market.

Sometimes agents seem to be “pushing the price up”. It would seem to be for their own benefit from the outsider’s point of view. But it could just be a reality their client needs to deal with. If they don’t go higher in price (even over asking at times), they won’t get the house they are going after. Or any house at all, for that matter.

Sometimes an agent may seem to be ignoring how much work a house needs. That might be because the house is a good deal as-is, or it’s the best location, or just as good as a buyer in that range can expect to find and afford.

Dads tend to swoop in during the moments of decision…coming to see a house their child is about to make an offer on…the house their kid fell in love with.

Dads don’t tend to be around for the entire process and see every house their child saw along the way. Nor are they privy to every conversation they had about the market.

Buying a house is a process

Finding a house to buy is a lot of sifting through houses you don’t end up buying.

It’s a process of getting to know the inventory. Getting a feel for how the market is moving. How quickly other buys scoop things up. Making tentative low offers, and being beaten out by higher ones. Watching prices go above asking…or not. Seeing how few great houses there are to choose from, and being ready to pounce when you come across the “perfect” one (warts and all).

And often enough, buyers want to swing their dad by the “perfect” house to get dad’s opinion, blessing, and approval. (Plus, they’re also just excited to show dad the house they found and want to buy!)

That’s when dads often swoop in, without benefit of the entire process, and cast judgment down upon the house, the neighborhood, the market, and the agent(s)…and put the brakes on. Hard.

It’s usually with all the best intentions. And it’s undoubtedly meant to be good advice.

As a dad, you want to make sure your kid doesn’t make a mistake they regret. And the easiest way to do that is to give riskless advice

“I wouldn’t buy this house. It needs too much work. It’s way overpriced. Wait. Wait for the market to get better. Wait for a better one to come along. Wait and save some money so you can afford a better house.”

Basically any advice but, “Buy this house! And buy it now!”

Because, advising your child not to buy a particular house, can never be proven as bad advice. It’s riskless. No mistake can be made. No pieces need to be picked up. They can’t get hurt if they don’t buy it.

Or can they!?!?!

Don’t get in the way

As much as you may not believe it at times, kids listen to their fathers.

Especially adult kids.

Especially on big decisions.

Even more so if dad has some skin in the game…like, help with the down payment or closing costs. (Which is pretty common.)

Sometimes kids listen simply because they don’t want to make a decision and risk hearing, “I toldja so! Shoulda listened to me!”, the minute there’s an issue with the house.

And listening to dad’s advice can sometimes get in the way of getting the best house they could have because someone else scoops it up while they hem and haw. And now they have to wait for the next needle in a haystack of a house to come along. If ever.

Or, eventually, they have to settle for a house they like less when their back is against the wall of time, because they’re at the end of their lease, or they’re closing on the house they’re selling.

Once time is against them, all hope of negotiating the best deal is pretty much out the window.

That doesn’t mean don’t be involved

You should care.

And if your child wants you involved, you should be involved. Your perspective and advice can be helpful.

Believe it or not, most real estate agents will welcome your involvement. If your help, involvement, and opinion are along for the ride, for the entire ride.

It’s best to be involved from the get-go. Go through the entire process with your child and their agent.

You may not want to go see alllllll of the houses they see in-person, or on-screen, but it’s important.

If you don’t, you lack a full picture and handle on the market that they build over time.

You don’t have to, of course…but then, you can’t just swoop in with your Superdad cape without feeling like you’re fighting your archenemy Superagent. And it’s a silly fight because you’re both trying to protect the same person.

You should both be protecting your child from potential pitfalls…not from each other.

I’ve created a free guide to help my clients properly prepare for purchasing a home. If you’re thinking about buying a home in the near future (or ever…), grab a copy! The Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide