Fixer Upper vs Move In Ready - Costs and Benefits
If you aren’t up for a challenge and some work then this might not be the path for you. If you are up for the challenge and aren’t afraid of a bit of paint or changing some light fixtures then keep reading!
The conversation tends to go like this…
Buyer: So, I want a place in Toronto… on the subway line, with an open concept layout… hm… and I need a parking spot too, but I don’t want to pay more than “x” dollars.
Lara: Okay no problem. We can take a look at some properties in that area!
Buyer: *sends lots of newly renovated listings or new builds that don’t quite fit what they want and have low square footage*
Lara: Is renovating or fixing up a property an option?
Buyer: I haven’t really thought about it, but I guess we could look!
Don’t get me wrong, not every “fixer-upper” is as easy as a bit of paint.
Not every tenanted property just needs new curtains or a thorough bathroom scrub to feel like home.
Sometimes though, the process is easier than you realize and worth the cost of some elbow grease!
How do you spot what’s worth it and what’s not?
Have you ever looked at properties online and wondered why some listings only have a picture of the front of the house or condo building? Are you ever frustrated that it says all of these great things about the property but you can’t see any of it?
Check If It’s Tenanted
A lot of the time sellers and their agents know the inside of a property is in rough shape. If it won’t photograph well, they won’t photograph it! This doesn’t always mean there’s a lot of work involved to make it a clean, fresh and liveable space. All it means it there likely IS work required.
How Much You Ask?
We never know until we see the property, but if you are up for some exploring, finding a diamond in the rough may be possible (and fun)!
A benefit to tenanted properties with no pictures is that they don’t usually drive much traffic.
Often agents will take buyers to see properties they’ve found online. Without background knowledge of the potential these tenanted properties have, a lot of the general public will be drawn to the pretty, bright, staged spaces with beautiful photos instead.
They overlook these gems without interior photos.
Look Past The Clutter
When an agent DOES take buyers to see these properties, the pool of offers is further depleted because of a property’s condition and a lack of vision.
If it’s cluttered and dirty, it may be hard for buyers to see potential past the mess in front of them. A broken screen door and gunk on the stove are an easy fix, but one the seller might not want to do. It’s an immediate turn off for visitors.
A clean move-in ready, neutral space helps buyers envision themselves living there and form that very important connection that keeps their mind engaged and pulls at their heart strings.
De-cluttering and de-personalizing is vital to drive the most traffic and encourage the greatest number of offers.
You can capitalize as a buyer when it’s not! If you can look past the graduation photos, litter boxes and pile of dirty dishes, you are in the minority of buyers. Negotiations may be possible if you are willing to do the work yourself and have a vision for the final product.
Make It Your Own
Financial negotiations are a huge benefit. Beyond that, settling on a place that needs some work also allows you to make it your own! Even though there are many beautiful move-in ready properties on the market, there is almost always SOMETHING that isn’t quite perfect.
These aren’t changes that need to be made for the property to be clean and liveable so changing them might be hard to justify. If the walls have holes and the paint is falling off, the repair cost might be reflected in the price or can be a negotiating point. This relieves the guilt of painting it your perfect zen grey before you move in!
Maybe the light fixture in the living room is too shiny for your style; maybe the colour of the new flooring won’t match the colour scheme you’ve always envisioned for your living room.
The bathroom might have just been repainted but is bright yellow and you are definitely NOT a yellow bathroom kind of person.
Making a space yours and undergoing the process of choosing finishes and hiring professionals is certainly not for everyone. You need to have the time to do these projects or the finances to hire others to do it for you.
The reward when you cook in your brand new kitchen for the first time in a condo you know is still below market value is SO worth it though!
Not only can it be a challenge to find the right property, but once you do there is no immediate guarantee you can make the changes you want.
Flooring in condos can’t just be replaced – they need to be approved. There are certain under-padding requirements to help with moisture and sound.
Taking down a wall isn’t as easy as knocking on it to see if it’s hollow and noticing the vent ducts run on the other side of the room.
You might need to go hunt for building plans and have a contractor ready to review them for you. Even if all of that runs smoothly, you’re still at the mercy of the condo board to approve a submitted proposal.
If they aren’t responsive or resourceful, this process could take a long time and all of this might not be possible before a competing offer is submitted and you’ve lost the property.
Buying a fixer upper is a process about calculating risk and ensuring you are within your comfort zone. Is the property still the one if you aren’t able to remove a wall to make it open concept?
Maybe it is and you want to submit an offer regardless.
Maybe it isn’t and we move on to our next hunt!
These are questions we need to ask & answer, together.
and that’s what I’m here for!
- help you come up with the questions you need to ask and determine who needs to answer them.
- give you a real idea of whether it is just a facelift or a full renovation.
- help you see the potential behind the mess and clutter.
- help you have vision if spacial reconfiguration isn’t your forte.
- talk you OUT of properties that aren’t worth it – educating you so YOU will be the one to talk me into the right one.
Having the right team behind you is step 1 of this process.
With a background in HVAC and building luxury resale homes, I have a pretty solid team of professionals that can answer questions I don’t know.
Regardless of whether you conclude a fixer upper is right for you or not, make sure you enjoy the home buying journey!
My biggest piece of renovation is advice is to always hire the right professional for the right job. If you need plumbing done and want it done right the first time, hire a plumber not just a general tradesman.
Lara Stasiw • Real Estate Agent & Home Design Connoisseur
You made it to the end! THANK YOU!!
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