If you’re in the market to buy a house in the Atlanta market, don’t automatically overlook a fixer-upper. Considering a home that needs a little TLC can put you in a good position to negotiate; it also allows you to customize your house to your needs.

The house in question might be a bank foreclosure, or perhaps it suffers from neglect, or maybe it simply needs an update. Regardless, a fixer-upper is always a viable option. Some of the advantages include:

  • Finding lower home prices. If you love that neighborhood in Roswell or Sandy Springs, but all the non-fixer-uppers are above your price range, then tackling a fixer-upper might allow you to get into the area you want. In the long run, the good schools and perfect location are constant and will always be a huge benefit; the less-than-perfect house, on the other hand, can be improved.
  • Having a better negotiating position. If you’re thinking about a fixer-upper, chances are you won’t have much competition when it comes to making an offer. Your real estate agent will likely have information on how long the house has been on the market and might even, if they are good, talk to some of the neighbors to see why the seller is trying to unload the house. If a “For Sale” sign has been lingering in the front yard for six months, you’ll know you’ll likely be in a strong position when you make an offer. A motivated seller will probably make some concessions or accept a price lower than the asking price.
  • Doing things your own way. If the house is in fairly good shape structurally — roof, foundation, walls, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems — then you can focus on recreating the interior to suit your tastes and your family’s requirements. And you can put your own imprint on your home by choosing your own flooring, counter tops, wall colors, and dream appliances. A home that already needs upgrades simply provides you with a blank canvas to work with.
  • Finding satisfaction in ownership. If you’ve been renting, home ownership — even for a home that needs work — holds advantages. The decision may be a better long-term financial decision than continuing to rent, and you’ll have the satisfaction of working on something you actually own.

If you’re considering a fixer-upper, the best advice is to work with a real estate agent. He or she can suggest how much to offer and can help you determine how much work is needed and how much it will cost. You should also hire a home inspector to provide a thorough inspection of the house so you have an idea of what major structural elements need work. Once you know that, you can determine what the costs will be and whether you want to pursue an offer.

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