Fixer / Handyman special -

Asked by Joshua, San Francisco, CA Thu Apr 24, 2008

Do these terms imply a certain amount of money would need to be spent to repair? It seems homes go from "move-in condition" to "needs tlc" to "fixer-upper" to "handyman special".

Could I expect to spend a certain amount of money rennovating a handyman special? Any clues as to what that amount could be for a 1100 square foot home in the Bay Area? I know it depends on structural issues, etc. but is there a minimum I should expect to spend?

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Meena Gujral, Agent, Pleasanton, CA
Thu Apr 24, 2008
Hi Joshua,

Your best bet would be to take a contractor or two with you to the property and get a few estimates. I don't think any agent can honestly give you an amount. There really is no minimum. It really depends on how much work is needed and it can vary by thousands of dollars. A contractor can definitely tell you the amount.


Meena Gujral
Help-U-Sell Achievers Realty
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Daniel Jeung, , Woodinville, WA
Thu Apr 24, 2008
There can be no way of estimating without actually looking at the home. Additionally, each individual has his/her own subjective viewpoint. The phrase "one man's trash is another man's treasure" comes to mind. I think the terms "handyman special, fixer-upper, etc.) have more to do with the frame of mind that you have going into the transaction. For some sellers/agents, that term can mean anything from cosmetic work to a complete teardown.

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Anna Bellomo, Agent, Berkeley, CA
Thu Apr 24, 2008
HI there,

Well, Realtors tend to use these terms in a very "elastic" way...So you really can't tell, without seeing the property, what TLC or "handyman special" mean. Even when they say "move in condition" you can't be sure the conditions are the ones you'll require to move in!

How much money you'll have to spend will also depend on how much work you're willing to do yourself, so really there's no way to tell...

My suggestion would be to call the listing agent of the property you're interested in and ask him/her to clarify the terms. Usually they'll be able to be more specific as to the the real meaning of those words...

Good luck with your house search!

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Joshua, , San Francisco, CA
Thu Apr 24, 2008
Thanks everyone. I had a feeling those terms would be 'elastic'. I appreciate you all confiming this for me and providing suggestions. Depending on the listing, I know how much I would have leftover for changes. Looks like I will need to hit the pavement when ready and bring a contractor as well.
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