Top Tips for Buying a Fixer-Upper

Buying a property can be one of the most exciting times but also one the most stressful!  Whether you work with a contractor or act on your own project, use these top tips to help secure your dream home before you buy.

Most people buy a modest or tired house to renovate because the price fits their tight budget. Once you have determined the location and properties that are of interest, your focus should be to look at what the property has to offer you in the long term.

Whether you’re buying an investment property or planning to live in your new home straight away, there are 3 key ‘property potential’ things to remember.

1) Investigate Council regulations
This can often cause the biggest headaches as there are always multiple things to consider if you’re buying to renovate: Is the property in a conservation zone?  Is it heritage listed? What is the zoning classification? Floor space ratio? Has the property gone through recent renovations and if so do they have council approvals? What other developments with approvals are in the area that can impact your home? 

The only way to be armed with this information is to write these questions down, talk to the local council and look through their Development Control Plan and the Local Environment Plans. This is time consuming however, you will have a greater understanding of what you’re buying before signing the dotted line.

2) Consider the Existing Structure and layout  
It’s common for older properties to be comprised of floor plans that are made up of small individual rooms. Look past the existing décor as this is cosmetic only and ask yourself ‘can the layout be transformed to open plan?’

Another key thing to remember is that many properties have valuable roof spaces that are underutilised and can easily be converted to liable valuable space that can help add value to the property. Will a future floor plan provide a good flow between the different living spaces?

3) Consider the Future value add
Understand what you want the property to do for you now and also in the future. Are you thinking of living in it and renovating at a later date?  Or are you planning on renovating straight away?  Whatever your situation, you need to understand the options for adding value as some may be straightforward and others may require a more trained eye to determine feasibility. Does the local market allow scope for your improvements or will you be overcapitalising? 

If you plan to sell at some point in the future, the buyers at that time may have different requirements to you.  A Pre-Purchase Design Assessment can provide invaluable advice about a property’s potential and a top tip would be to always consider making it part of the process for every property you plan to purchase the same way that you would carry out Pest and Building inspections. If your goal is to add value it could save you from buying the wrong property. When the right property comes along it will give you the information you need to proceed with confidence.

Written by Gemma Pena, Co-Founder of Emerging Spaces

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