This is the story of my first home. I am an absolute sucker for fixer uppers and this was no exception. I bought that house for $59,000 in February 2010. It was the sweetest little house–3 bedrooms, 1 bath, a family room and a fenced backyard, it sat next to a park and was close to my family. From the first time I walked into that house, I knew it had lots of potential. It also had a lot of problems. A. LOT. Besides the cosmetic issues, it needed a complete electrical upgrade, new water heater, new furnace, the bathtub had rusted through at the drain and was leaking into the crawl space…the list was LONG.
Fortunately at that time, I got a first time home buyers tax credit and used that money to do a lot of repairs. I also have a very skilled family which definitely helped to offset the costs. The rest of the repairs happened over time. The cosmetic changes–a lot of elbow grease.
I owned that house for 6 years and I’m happy to say that in June 2016, we received an offer in ONE DAY and sold it for $87,000! Had we not outgrown that house, I would still live there today. It was a treasure and I had wonderful neighbors. Ready to see the before and after pics?
Here’s what all we did to the house:
Electrical upgrade and rewire
New water heater
Vapor barrier in crawl space
Complete bathroom and kitchen renovation
New gutters and soffits
Removed old carpet, restored original hardwood floors in front of house, replaced carpet in back of the house (addition)
New paint and trim
New exterior doors
New walls in master bedroom
Living Room Before
Living Room After
Family Room Before
Family Room After
Bedroom 1 Before
Bedroom 1 After
Bedroom 2 After
Bedroom 3 Before
Bedroom 3 After
Kitchen After (I wish I had pictures of what it looked like before! But here’s what it looks like now.)
The question I get the most is ‘Was it worth it?’ Absolutely. Not only did we walk away well into the black, but we also left the house better than we found it. Which means we left a neighborhood better than we found it. It not only looks better, but it is also safer and structurally sound for the next owners.
The advice I would give anyone thinking about investing in a foreclosure would be this:
- Try to know as much as you possibly can about what you’re getting into.
- If you don’t have access to free skilled labor (family and friends) and can’t do things yourself, find out how much repairs are going to cost BEFORE putting an offer on a house.
- Expect surprises.
- Cosmetic improvement without structural improvement is like trying to repaint a car that is covered in rust. You have to deal with the things that aren’t pretty.
- Give it time.
So…what do you think?