Brian Jennin…, Home Buyer in San Francisco, CA

When buying a fixer-upper, which things should one be aware of?

Asked by Brian Jennings, San Francisco, CA Fri May 11, 2012

Help the community by answering this question:


After getting your inspections to find out what you "need" done, you should havea contractor do a walk-through with you (if they'll do it) to get an idea of what the cost to repair the required items and all of your "wants".

Once all of that's done, you'll need to decide if you're paying cash to rehab the property or if you're going to need a rehab loan to facilitate this. If it's a residential 1-4 unit property/condo, you can use a rehab loan (which one depends on the size and scope of what you're doing and who's selling). These properties can be either owner occupied, second homes or investment properties with slightly-above market rates (low to upper 4's as of when I write this depending if it's owner occupied or investment).

Here's a link to another Trulia post I did about rehab products (long read, grab a snack :)…

If you have questions that aren't addressed here or in my link, feel free to email or call for a faster response, otherwise just ask here.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 18, 2012
Hi..I'm tasha I'm a home seller....I have. A homee for sell if u are intresting insÉeing the pictures and the price...pls email me
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 29, 2013
First thing to consider is the repair cost. You will need an experienced 203k Consultant who can evaluate the property, and identify FHA and HUD 203k requirements, and guidelines. The 203k Consultant should be able to prepare a cost estimate and Contractors bid package.

Dana Lindberg
CFS Mortgage -
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 29, 2013
All the preceding answers are right on target. I would suggest that you hire a home inspector who is a member in good standing of ASHI (the American Society of Home Inspectors). They have very high standards (technical and ethical) for becoming and maintaining membership. Regarding how much of a "fixer" to take on, my best advice would be to try to find a home that needs updating (kitchen, baths, basic systems like plumbing, heating and electrical) but does not need major repairs (bad foundation, lots of dry rot, soil problems). You can then (hopefully) put most of your remodel energy and dollars into improvements which will make your life more enjoyable, rather than simply working hard to keep the house from crumbling around you!

Chris Wells
Christopher Wells Construction
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 18, 2012
Area, location, location, location. See what you can expect in terms of rent as well, if you are going to rent it out. The home inspection is your most important thing, not only for items of concern to ask for on the BINSR (Buyers Inspection Period) but also it will be a blueprint of items to keep an eye on for the future as well.

Best of luck with your fixer-upper, it should be an exciting and educational experience.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 17, 2012
Besides a good property inspection report get a contractor to have a look at it as well!
Hidden caveats are termites, rot, mold, roof.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 17, 2012
Possible water/electrical/structural/mold/plumbing/roof/efiiciency of furnace/H2O issues/drainage, well & septic(if any), to name a few.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 17, 2012
Foundation / structural damage (dry-rot) / plumbing (cooper?) & electrical ( breakers or fuses)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 17, 2012
I always think of roof, basement water, air condition, furnace, and general condition of the inside. Then I add up dollars necessary to repair or replace.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 17, 2012
Everything can be fixed, most of the time. The most important things are foundation, roof, any water intrusion. Kitchen and baths are cosmetic unless you are moving walls. Windows are very expensive too.

Also look for mold.


0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 12, 2012
Hi Brian-In addition to the answers below, you should also think about how you're going to buy such a property. If you've got the cash and have addressed the aforementioned concerns and others, you're heading in the right direction.

Loans for renovation projects are more difficult to come by than traditional loans, though credit is loosening somewhat. The amount of work left after you buy a fixer should have a very direct relationship with your budget!

A good agent will work with you to determine what type of property best suits your needs and has the potential to be a great home after it's restored or even improved beyond it's original design.

Thanks and good luck. I work with buyers seeking this type of property frequently so feel free to contact me if you have any other questions.

Best-Matt Ciganek

0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 11, 2012
I would have to agree with Lance- a very good inspector and/or contractor that is thorough is going to be key. The only issue with that is that inspections must be non-intrusive, meaning no damage can be caused to the structure during these inspections (no tearing out drywall, making holes, etc).

Once the cladding and finishes start coming down that is when the real meat of the reno is going to reveal itself, and a lot of times it can be a lot worse than originally thought.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask!

Davey Cetina
Buyer’s Specialist | DRE# 01887446

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate
2095 Rose St, Ste 100 | Berkeley, CA 94709
[t] 510.517.7238 | [f] 510.780.2110
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 11, 2012
I agree that it is quite important to have inspections.
The most expensive work on fixer uppers tends to include work that will be necessary for areas including: Foundation, Electrical, Plumbing, and Roof.
If the space is simply dirty, has ugly carpet, or is outdated in style, the actual house may still be a strong investment for improvement over time.

Isaac Wigley-Realtor BHG Mason McDuffie
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 11, 2012
There is too much information to list here. The most important items are latent issues and possible limitations and/or restrictions with permits and planned improvements. I highly recommend pre-offer inspections of the property and research into potential construction costs and possible snags with qualified contractors and professionals.


Oggi Kashi
Broker Associate, Paragon Real Estate Group CA DRE 01844627
All data from sources deemed reliable but subject to errors and omissions, and not warranted. truonly
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 11, 2012

There are so many issues here in San Francisco that the most important things are to have very detailed inspections and a broker/agent who deals with these properties and knows what's involved. We have bought many properties and fixed them up and then sold them, the latest is a total gut job on a pac hts 2 unit with all new everything. I can not only tell you what to watch out for but costs as well. If you like I could give you a tour of the place sometime because the lower is gutted and the upper is finished so you can see up close what's involved. Contact info below if you would like to take advantage of that offer.

Best Regards,

Lance King/Owner-Managing Broker
DRE# 01384425
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 11, 2012
Search Advice
Ask our community a question
Email me when…

Learn more

Copyright © 2014 Trulia, Inc. All rights reserved.   |  
Have a question? Visit our Help Center to find the answer