Buyers looking for a fixer-upper? Here are 10 things to consider

Here are 10 things that should make your clients tread carefully when shopping for a fixer-upper.

1. As-is listing

While an as-is listing isn’t, in and of itself, a no-go, it does indicate that the seller may be aware of some necessary repairs or updates and is unwilling or unable to complete them. Ensure that you do a thorough home inspection to try to identify the elements in need of repair and determine whether your buyer is able and willing to take them on.

In the case of bank-owned properties, you may find that the home is listed as-is because the bank is not in a position to speak to its condition. Again, as-is doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker, but should definitely prompt thorough investigation.

2. Bad roof

Since a bad roof isn’t usually a DIY type of project, a roof repair should be cause for concern. Even if your buyer is willing to have the shingles replaced, a roof in poor condition can be the cause of major leaks that could affect the structural underpinnings, interior ceilings and other areas of the home. Moisture intrusion can result in dangerous mold, costing thousands more to remediate.

6. Moisture and mildew smell

Even if you don’t see water damage, a strong smell of mustiness and mildew is an indicator that there is hidden water seeping in from outside or leaking from the current plumbing system. This can indicate a small intrusion — like a leaky window frame, for instance — or a major moisture problem like a prone-to-flooding basement.

7. Bad floor plan

It’s one thing to switch out light fixtures or change the tile in the foyer. A bad floor plan, however, is something that most weekend warriors can’t tackle on their own. If your buyer hates the flow of a home but thinks that a new paint color or some updated fixtures will make things better, encourage them to think again.

8. Outdated plumbing or wiring

Your buyers may think that updating the plumbing in a home stops with a new kitchen faucet and that updating the electrical means a new light fixture. However, an outdated plumbing or electrical system is a big job requiring the skill and training of an experienced plumber or electrician.

9. Ugly bathrooms or kitchen

It’s easy to fall in love with a house “except for” an out-of-date kitchen or an ugly bathroom. However, these are among the most expensive remodeling projects, even for skillful DIYers.

Living without a kitchen for what could be weeks or months on end, or without one or more of the home’s bathrooms, can create major inconveniences that make the new home experience awkward and even unbearable.

10. Bad grading

A poorly graded property can result in extensive water intrusion and make it difficult to keep the basement dry. In addition, amateur fixes can make the problem worse, introducing termites and other pests into the home’s siding or foundation.

If you see standing water or excessive dampness in the landscaping close to the home, discuss the need for interventions with your home inspector or a trusted landscaper and determine whether bad grading can be corrected simply or will require the installation of drains and other diversions.