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  • Elaine Zito

What to Look for When Buying A Fixer Upper


There are two new fads when it comes to making money; being an influencer and renovating homes. We all want to create a comfortable living from something that looks fun and glamourous. Well first let me tell you, fixing up and flipping a house is not that. No one actually takes a sledge hammer to a wall for a fun few tries, and then bam you have an open concept. Renovating a house is exhausting, requires permits, and ability to learn new skills (that is if you don't want to hire out, which is the smart way to make money). So if you're juggling with the idea of investing in something and putting your personal touch on it to make money, here are my recommendations for what to look for when buying:


1. Layout: Most likely the properties you are looking at are outdated, dirty, and reek of some kind of smell. For most homebuyers this affects their decision immediately. A lot of people miss out on opportunity because they can't see past the current owners horrible choice of paint color, decor or cleanliness. When Allyn and I bought our first property, it was a townhome with burnt red walls, cat piss all over the carpets, and highlighter yellow formica cabinets. It smelled bad, looked bad, and needed a lot of work to become livable by our standards. But we loved the layout. We saw where we could extend the kitchen into their current living room to make an open concept and add in an island with barstools. We loved the cathedral ceilings in the living room and realized what bright paint would do to really open up the space. The 3 bedrooms upstairs were perfect for our roommate (another great way to make supplemental income) and additional family who would want to come visit. So despite me being allergic to cats, and hating everything about the place visually, we saw what it could be and put in an offer. Now it is up to date with a farmhouse sink, rain shower in the master bath, all new cabinetry and granite, tile on the two lanais and fresh paint everywhere. It smells good looks good and is worth $105,000 more than we originally bought it for, all because we looked past the cosmetics and saw how great the layout was.


2. Location: Location, location, location. I know you have heard this before! When buying a fixer upper, you want to look for the ugliest house on the block. The townhome we renovated is on a golf course with a waterway in the back leading to a bigger pond...in Naples, Florida. First of all, south Florida is a desired location in itself. But if you can find a property that is considered "waterfront," you are winning. Also, because it is on a golf course, that means no neighbors behind us. We can literally sit in our backyard on the water while looking across the golf course at the sun setting over the palm trees.While we do have neighbors on the sides (duh, townhome) we don't feel boxed in because of the visibility out our windows. When we go to sell this property, the view and location will be a huge selling point.


3. Potential: While most things can be altered completely, there's a line when it comes to how much you need to change and if its still a good investment. Structural changes are expensive. Plumbing and electric takes permits and usually an outside contractor. The best flips are ones that only need cosmetic updates. I'm talking paint, flooring, lighting, countertops, vanities etc. Anything that you can change yourself without outside help or licensing is a plus. This will create for cheaper and quicker flips. Look for the potential in properties by imagining what it would look like if you were to live in it. If you can visualize it, and get excited, then you should go for it.


xoxo, Isla Girl