If you plan on buying a resale home, the considerations are much the same as in purchasing new, with a few additional items to check. Resales encompass the greatest number of homes on the market. Their numbers include everything from a one or two-year old production home to a two-hundred year old historic restoration. They also include some homes which deny their age, having been so well maintained and updated that they compare favorably with, and sometimes better than, new homes.
But used homes, as the name implies, have been used, and sometimes that may mean dilapidated, in need of major repairs, and be virtually worn out. However, as we see in older model “classic cars,” many used homes are built of better, stronger materials, and have been constructed by true craftsmen and are far better than the so-called production or tract homes. But, of course, there are no absolutes. Some older homes are just that, “old homes,” with little redeeming value.
A popular category of resale are those homes known as “fixer-uppers.” These homes may need new roofs (an easy repair which, unfortunately, frightens away many potential buyers), new siding, kitchen and bath upgrading, or the replacement of heating, plumbing, and electrical systems. Some homes may even require that structural repairs be completed before they are safe to occupy.
Ads for these homes are sometimes misleading and the agent’s or seller’s description of needed repairs is often far from complete. If you re interested in such a home proceed with caution. While wonderful opportunities exist for those who are knowledgeable and willing to tolerate the hassle and expense of serious home repair, horror stories abound; and a few such homes are truly, “money-pits.” Many times buyers discover that their anticipated budget will be decimated by undisclosed problems.
If you do plan to purchase a fixer-upper, make your offer to purchase contingent upon your receiving acceptable bids for the work needed. With these homes the inspection process is even more critical. You may wish to get separate inspections for the structure (from an engineer), and inspections for the mechanical systems from certified contractors (HVAC, electrical, and plumbing). Then, get comprehensive QUOTES, not estimates, for all repairs. Also, check with the local building authority; depending upon the repairs needed, you may need to bring the repaired areas into compliance with current building codes.
If this sounds complicated and confusing, it is. Fixer-uppers can be disastrous to relationships, to budgets, and to your sanity. However, they can also be challenging, rewarding, and just plain fun. Your task is to make an informed purchase based upon your knowledge and your willingness to deal with the problems involved.