Is a Fixer-Upper for You? 5 Things to Keep in Mind Before You Commit

Reblogger Brian England
Real Estate Agent with Arizona Focus Realty SA634540000

Lise Howe provides some important things to keep in mind before getting into a fixer-upper situation.  I love seeing homes being fixed up, but there are always unknowns that people need to prepare for or it could put them in a tough situation.

Original content by Lise Howe DC AB15253


Many buyers start their home search with the idea that a fixer-upper will save them money, make them money and give them their dream home all in one.  Unfortunately, many discover that buying a fixer-upper home isn’t for everyone. An older house with a lot of character may look great, but a professional inspector may find issues that make it a more expensive home than you think.  In addition, you may discover that that fixer-upper brings repairs that are beyond your abilities.  You need to be sure that you have the right mixture of skills and the finances to carry out the repairs.

Here are somethings to consider before you leap into buying that fixer-upper “dream home:"

Talk to Your Lender About the Costs

The idea of saving money as you buy and making money as you sell motivates lots of buyers considering a fixer-upper.  There are the lipstick on the pig fixer-uppers and then there are the total gut and rehab projects.  You can probably handle the expense of the lipstick on the pig home in your monthly budget - a new stove this month, three gallons of paint next month.   If it involves major outlays like building or moving bathrooms or finishing off a basement and you have no construction skills, you need to talk to your lender about how you are going to pay for your dreams.  Big projects are expensive and if you don't roll their costs into the initial financing, you are going to be paying for them with cash out of pocket.  That can be very expensive and slow down the pace of your renovation.  Do you really want to be living in a home with walls torn out and pipes exposed while you are saving money for the next project?  Talk to your lender about the possibility of a renovation loan like a FHA 203K loan.  Be mindful that in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic FHA 203K loans are harder to get and will slow down the loan process.  In short,  make sure you know how you are going to pay for your dreams so they don't become a nightmare. 


Major Issues
Plumbing, electricity, the roof and structural issues in the foundation are some things a home inspector should prioritize. They’ll advise you on what you need to replace immediately, what you can wait on or what you don’t need to fix at all.  The inspection will help identify those issues which are going to cost you money up front.  Even though you are planning on renovating that fixer-upper, you definitely do not want to skip the inspection.  You might think that the property is a lipstick on a pig fixer-upper only to discover that it is a signficant renovation with structuaral faults that will cost big money.

Walk through the house with the inspector and check on the expected lifespan of the various home systems. If an air conditioner, furnace or other major item needs to be fixed, get a cost estimate before proceeding with the home purchase.

Home Additions
Buying a fixer-upper can mean more than repainting the walls or remodeling the kitchen. If it doesn’t have enough room, you may want to add on to the house. Or, you may just want to knock down a wall to expand the kitchen. Is that a load-bearing wall? Can it safely come down?

Check with your city’s building department to see if you can expand.  Factor the cost of applications, permits, inspections and the time delay into your budget and your plans.   If the home is in a historic district that could limit modifications.

Ask a Contractor
Before buying a fixer-upper home, hire an architect or contractor to look at the house with you so they can give you estimates on repairs or additions.

Many contractors will give you bids for free, so you should get a few opinions before deciding who to work with. Architects may charge an upfront fee.

Tax Incentives
Some cities offer tax credits for improving their property value. If the home is in a historic district, there might be tax benefits to restoring it to its original condition.

The local power company may offer rebates for installing solar panels, dual-pane windows or other energy-saving features. State and federal governments may also offer tax rebates for energy improvements.

The bottom line is don't let the low price of a fixer-upper house entice you too much. There could be problems under the surface that may put it well beyond your budget.


If you are looking for a dream home - whether a fixer upper or a renovated home - give the Lise Howe Group a call at 240-401-5577 or email us at


If you are looking for a home in the DC metro area, you know there is more to the process than just picking a property and making an offer. You need to find the best location for your wants and needs, get a great price, and work with a lender who will make your life easier - not harder.  Trust your search with a Realtor who is licensed in DC, MD and VA and really knows the city and all its secret neighborhoods.

Start your search with the Lise Howe Group, Washington Natives who love the city and all its quirkiness! If you are moving or relocating to Washington DC, be sure to ask for our relocation guide. Call us at 240-401-5577 to schedule an appointment or email us at  Too excited to wait to talk to us about a great home? Just click here to start that home search.

If you want to see what is for sale in Washington DC, Chevy Chase and Bethesda, check out these links below:

Bethesda Condos for Sale

Chevy Chase Condos for Sale


Bethesda Single Family Luxury Homes

 Bethesda Single Family Homes Under $1 Million

Chevy Chase Single Family Luxury Homes

Chevy Chase Single Family Homes Under $1 Million

Luxury Single Family Washington DC Homes

Washington DC Single Family Homes Under $1 Million


Washington DC Condos


Lise Howe

Keller Williams Capital Properties

4646 40th St NW 

Washington DC 20016

240-401-5577 (24 hour direct)
Licensed in DC, MD, and VA
Associate Broker, GRI, ABR, CRS
The Lise Howe Group
Howe Real Estate Should Be!






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Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Brian,  I had down to reblog on Lise blog next week.  You beat me to it.  Good one!


May 19, 2020 11:14 AM #1
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
Fathom Realty Washington LLC - Tacoma, WA
South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker!

When I read this blog post the first time it made me think of all the clients I have had that watch HGTV. For some odd reason they think that refurbishing a house is only a half hour episode...

Thank you for sharing Brian England 

May 19, 2020 03:54 PM #2
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

thanks for reposting this - I am honored by your support!  

May 20, 2020 09:24 AM #3
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Another great choice for a reblog..I did not see it the first time around

May 25, 2020 07:26 AM #4
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Brian England

MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ
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