Hello! I’m slowly working through my story and outlining the life choices that brought me to blog. Buying a fixer upper was a MAJOR moment in my millennial mom journey, and I HIGHLY recommend it. So I want to share the benefits we’ve seen & foresee with our home and ultimately the perks of purchasing a fixer upper.
Before I get into my whole spiel, I want to talk about our specific situation. My husband usually doesn’t like me talking numbers and oversharing, but idgaf. This is my blog, and I don’t care to lie. The truth is just easier, amirite? So here goes.
We’ve been in our home for just over 3 years now. It was listed for sale by owner for $75,000, and the owner was out-of-state which explains the wildly low price. On top of that, he had inherited it or something? So there was very little attachment to it.
The house was not on Zillow, Trulia, or ANY FORM OF MLS. So the competition was virtually nonexistent when my mom told us about this little house for sale. We were still living in Germany when we put an offer on it. They had received (& accepted) a low-ball offer from a local builder who just wanted to demolish it and rebuild.
There was probably a week or more of sitting around thinking we missed out on this awesome deal, but the seller reconsidered and accepted our offer under the assumption that we wouldn’t demolish it. DEAL!
It’s a wood frame house, which is not ideal here in Florida (particularly during hurricane season), but still standing after 70-something years. There’s 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, a sweet sunroom, on a MASSIVE lot that isn’t in a flood zone.
Why we needed to buy a fixer upper
Before moving back to Florida, I had been apartment hunting and everything was $1,200+. That was *almost* bearable, but then you have renter’s restrictions and we have a big, crazy dog. He needs a yard. Period.
I should probably thank Chewy for my fixer upper. He has a purpose after all!
Our mortgage came out to about $550 a month, which is better than any rental deal I’ve seen in our area. It’s totally nuts and I couldn’t be happier!
But, buying a fixer upper to live in can be a challenge
Becoming a homeowner is a stepping stone on the way to that American Dream. But these days, crippling student loan debt and stagnating wages have been the driving forces which leave millennials out of the housing market, or so we’ve been told. The benefits of buying a fixer upper go way beyond unleashing your Pinterest dreams and working your creativity.
Thanks to the genius over at Magnolia, the world’s eyes have been opened to buying a fixer-upper. Joanna Gaines is a personal heroine of… just about every target-loving girl I know. Why wouldn’t she be? That woman is a GODDESS, and it seems that everything she touches turns to gold (or shiplap).
Sure, we don’t all have her timeless style or a team of hardworking contractors on call. It can be hard to imagine the things she does to those outdated Texas Estates without HGTV’s editors drawing it out for us. However, she is leading us down what I consider the best path to home ownership.
so, what is a fixer upper?
A fixer upper, in my eyes, is a livable property in need of some TLC. It can be in need of structural, decorative, or design love, but it’s probably a combination. Still, it has to be livable. If you can’t live in it, then it’s a less of a home and more of a project.
I’m guessing you don’t have a team of contractors on call or the savvy know-how of an experienced home renovator. And if you’re buying a fixer upper, it’s safe to assume you’re budget-conscious and don’t have an EXTRA place to live during a full remodel. And that’s totally cool!
So why do people even do this?! How the hell do they expect to live in an ongoing construction zone without being miserable? Here are some reasonable justifications for trading turn-key for less than desirable.
The benefits of buying a fixer upper
1. It’s an investment!
I don’t care what you’ve heard, property is always a good investment. Even when it’s bad, it’s good. The value is there, and it grows in time.
It grows faster when you improve it, and there’s nowhere to go but up when you buy a something shabby.
You could pay rent for a nice apartment or house, but all that cash is just used to pad someone else’s investment. Think about that for a minute.
My mother-in-law has been renting a house for a couple years, and paying more than we pay for our mortgage. The house is smaller, older, and generally not as nice. This isn’t uncommon, and it’s perfectly ethical. The biggest perk of renting is less responsibility. At the end of the day, any issues are the owner’s problem. That comes with a price.
Here’s the kicker: that house was purchased over 30 years ago for $20,000….! So my mother-in-law has paid MORE than the home’s sale price with no end in sight.
Where’s that money going? After covering taxes and other expenses, it’s lining the landlord’s pockets.
The point of investing is to make money, and that is pretty dang inspiring.
Even if you never want to be a landlord, you could eventually sell the property and make a pretty profit.
2. It’s cheap(ish)
Maybe you’ve heard this before, but the smartest way to invest in ANYTHING comes down to this principle:
Buy low and sell high
Simply put, you’re bargain shopping. You can score a roof over your head for a fraction of what your dream home would cost. That alone is a game-changer.
While still a massive transaction, buying a home that needs work opens doors.
All of a sudden, you are able to shop in some very desirable neighborhoods. First time home buyers can’t necessarily purchase the best house in any neighborhood, but you might be able to get the worst house in the best neighborhood.
Because the 3 most important factors in a Real Estate investment are:
3. It leaves a little wiggle room
By minimizing upfront and monthly costs, you can save cash for upgrades and adjustments to your new digs. That down payment virtually disappears with a low ticket price. All good things!
Either structural or decorative, your disposable income can give you a chance to increase your property’s value astronomically.
Within a month of buying our fixer-upper, we had a brand new Air Conditioning system installed. This immediately increased our property value by over $10,000.00 even though it only cost us $4,000.00 That’s a solid ROI in my book. Plus, cold air.
4. Personal touches are easier to justify
You won’t have to rip out a decent kitchen just because it is not your style. You get to rip out a HIDEOUS kitchen and create your dream! Or something close to it.
I love shopping for houses, and it breaks my heart to see a brand new, turn key house with alllll the wrong fixtures (for me). I don’t know how many people feel the same way, but I couldn’t imagine paying top dollar for a house like that without a little say in the way it’s put together. Could you?
Custom homes are the way to go, and fixer uppers are a version of that!
5. It’s a valuable learning experience
The time you spend with it the way it was will give you excellent insight into what works and what doesn’t. Not just for the home, but for your family’s unique lifestyle.
During our time here, we’ve learned that we really don’t need too much space. And to think, I used to want a mansion on the water.
The water might still be nice one day, but I know my limits are at about 2200 square feet.
More than anything, I’ve learned that my style is constantly evolving and I love expressing my creativity in the place where I live. After this experience, the though of moving into anything “turn-key” completely bores me.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d take a model kitchen any day, but I will forever find projects and opportunities to shove my personality into every nook and cranny of my decor!
And thanks to Drop Dead Diva (super fun show btw, I highly recommend it), I fully believe you are where you live!
Would you ever live in a fixer upper? Why or why not?
Let me know!!