We learned at the 2016 Year End Market Review last week that new construction is outpacing renovations, but there are still a lot of buyers searching for a “fixer upper” home that they can put their touch on. And then, there are also buyers who are looking specifically for older homes that have already been renovated. Whatever your reason might be for looking for a renovated home or a home to renovate (some of the reasons we hear from buyers: more established neighborhoods, neighborhoods with lots of trees and larger lots, older homes with character, being able to afford their favorite neighborhood, etc.) there are a few questions you should ask yourself and things to consider before buying a project that you’ll need to put the work into for a remodel.
It is important to note that these should not be the only questions and research you do to decide if a fixer upper is right for you. It’s always important to consult licensed inspectors, general contractors, electricians, plumbers, etc. to make sure you know what you’re getting into. We are more than happy to help you connect with these professionals in order to determine whether a remodel project is the right fit.
Will the home be in bad shape?
The simple answer is: we don’t know. You and your real estate agent won’t really know the condition of a home until after the home inspection takes place by a qualified and licensed inspector. During contract negotiations our team negotiates a certain number of days for our clients to complete inspections on the home they are about to purchase. These inspections are the moment of truth for a lot of buyers. Not only will you be hiring someone to do a general home inspection, you’ll also be ordering a CL-100 inspection (termite inspection that also uncovers other pest problems, wood rot, moisture issues, etc.). Some sellers might be willing to make some repairs, and others might not be as willing to complete repairs, if they’re willing to complete any at all. After the inspection report is completed, your Simply Lowcountry Real Estate agent sits down with you, the buyer, to make sure you understand the findings, have a chance to ask the inspector any questions, get contractor quotes and determine if this is the right purchase for you.
Where should we spend the most money?
Without knowing the actual condition of the home it’s harder to answer this question. If the home requires things like plumbing and electrical work it’s always important to get these items done first. The same goes for the roof, water heater, insulation and attic condition, air conditioning system and other major systems of the home. They might not be as fun as designing a pretty new sunroom, but these are the “bones” and “big systems” of the home that are super important to your safety while living in the home and will be important to the next buyer if you decide to sell the home in the future. With these types of repairs, after receiving your inspection report we’ll help you coordinate setting up contractor quotes so they can better determine what needs to be done, the costs of doing so and the severity of the situation.
Aside from the major functioning systems of the home, kitchens and baths are always going to see the most return. If you’re purchasing the home as an investment and planning to “flip” it, it’s important when you design kitchens and baths that you’re picking finishes that the vast majority of people might like. You may really like a hot pink backsplash in the kitchen, but you need to keep in mind the general buying pool. If you’re planning to renovate the home and live there for several years, then you should customize it the way you want! However, if selling is on your mind in the near future, you’ll probably get the most for your money by choosing neutral and appealing colors.
What about flooring?
If the home already has hardwood floors, you can discuss the option of sanding and re-staining them with a contractor or flooring professional depending on the condition of the existing floors. If you’re having to put in new floors, the vast majority of buyers are looking for hardwood floors throughout the living areas. Whether you go with engineered hardwoods or laminate is all a mater of price and look. We can hardly tell the difference anymore between laminate and hardwood products. When you get to the bedrooms, it really is a personal preference. 50% of our buyers prefer hardwood in the bedrooms, and the other 50% like the cozy and soft feeling of carpet on their feet. In bathrooms we usually recommend a tile flooring, the options are truly endless!
What about the kitchen is important?
Every person and buyer has such a different taste and vision for their kitchen. We always recommend going with solid surface counters are they’re more durable and can last for years. There are so many different surfaces though to choose from: granite, quartz, marble, etc. Whatever you choose, make sure you talk with a contractor about the pros and cons of each. Although one might be cheaper than the other, it’s important to pick something that will last. If you’re planning on living in the home for a little while before selling, it’s even more important that you pick something that will still look new in a couple of years. In terms of color, most of our buyers want something light and bright. White isn’t for everyone though, so be sure to look at samples and get an idea for what might look best in your space. Same goes for cabinets. We love the trend of “all white everything”, but we’ve seen lots of pretty grey hues and maples that look great. It’s just important to keep things bright, especially if you’re working with a smaller space. It’s important in smaller kitchens too that you still have enough cabinet space for storage and a good amount of counter space for prepping food. A kitchen designer will be able to help you layout your kitchen to make the most out of the space you have.
Is there special financing available for renovations?
Another hard question to answer! We never said renovating was easy 🙂 There are options for renovation and construction loans out there, however the requirements for qualifying, down payment, and terms are a little bit more complex than what we can answer. If you’re already working with a mortgage lender, they’ll be able to answer all your questions about whether or not this is an option for you. if you’re not working with a lender, we’d love to put you in touch with a mortgage lender so you can find out if a renovation loan is a possibility and get all your financing questions answered. Another note, if you’re buying the property to “flip” or as an investment, we recommend talking with your CPA/tax professional and/or attorney to make sure you understand any additional costs of buying and selling investment and flip properties.