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The idea of buying a fixer-upper sounds appealing to many people. It’s an affordable way to buy the home of your dreams, but first-time home buyers need to be cautious before making this investment. Here is what you need to know before taking on a fixer-upper.

Before You Commit

Not everyone is well-equipped to buy a fixer-upper. Here are a few things you need to know to make sure this purchase is right for you.

  • Handyman skills. An older house will need some basic repairs. If you can’t do them, you may end up spending far more on services than you planned. 
  • Plenty of free time. Even if you’re not doing the bulk of updates yourself, you’re going to need time to take care of things like getting permits, selecting design elements, and so on.
  • Patience. This won’t be done overnight! It may take months to complete the project, so make sure you can wait.

Read more character traits that you might need from Architectural Digest.

Estimate What You Can Afford

Next, you should estimate how much you can afford to spend on a home. Begin by looking at your total annual income. Next, figure out how much of a down payment you will make and your monthly spending. Add in your APR, or the average annual percentage rate on your credit cards. Keep in mind that a home in a different neighborhood or with more square footage than your current living space could mean higher monthly bills. On top of that, you’ll need to budget for your home’s renovations.

Next, you’ll need to determine what kind of loan you can get. Bankrate has an excellent overview of the different loans first-time home buyers can get, depending on their qualifications.

How to Buy the Right Home

Choosing the right house is important in preventing you from wasting time and money on things like a poor foundation or leaky roof. While cosmetic problems may not be eye-catching, they are easy to fix. How can you tell the difference? Draft On Design recommends hiring a home inspector before purchasing a fixer-upper. You should also consider asking for a reduced price when purchasing a home that is in bad shape or tacking on a “hassle factor” fee. This fee is reserved for when time-consuming repairs must be done before you can comfortably live in the home.

It’s important that you have a budget and stick to it when purchasing your home and doing renovations. Making Sense of Cents has a helpful article on how to save money while working on your fixer-upper.

Tackling the Renovation

Once you have everything in place, your next job is deciding what projects to work on and how to tackle them. Your first decision is whether you should live there while the renovations are ongoing. You will likely need to live elsewhere if you are doing major overhauls of foundational elements. If so, your first updates must be those that will allow you to move in. Also, keep in mind how long you’ll be out of the home. If seasons change, you might need to work on heating or air conditioning.

If not, you have more leeway. states that flooring is the first thing to check and update, and has plenty of tips on how. This Old House advises starting with the entryway and improving curb appeal. If you have duplicate or unused rooms that need updating, that’s an easy choice.

However, comfort might be a top objective. Working bathrooms, a completed bedroom, and a kitchen that works will make life easier as you continue the work on your home. Before you tackle any of these projects, make sure you have the right tools for the job, including sanders, hammers, and power drills.

Buying a fixer-upper for your first home is not impossible. With proper planning and a fluid budget, you can get the home of your dreams at a price you can afford.

Post was guest written by Erin Reynolds.