Home Maintenance Woes from the Weary

shep.jpgI’ll be honest. I hate doing maintenance work on the home I live in. HATE IT! Come on people. I know I’m not the only one. Some homeowners, such as myself, like to believe everything from the kitchen sink to the vinyl siding was built to last through a nuclear explosion. Well, imagine my disdain when I read a recent article on the Eastside real estate blog, Bellevue Bubble that told me exactly what I didn’t want to hear. Your house DOESN’T last forever. According to a National Association of Homebuilders study (downloadable here), a paint job typically lasts 15 years. Kitchen cabinets should last 50 years, according to the association.  

The study also determined the median age of a home in the United States is nearly 32 years old. To me, that means I have 18 years before I need to replace the cabinets. To others (perhaps more house-responsible individuals), it means we better take care and elicit constant maintenance on our homes.  

To many real estate investors, it’s a good thing the housing market has a lot of people like me in it. Purchasing a home that needs work can be profitable. Sometimes it is just too easy! What do you think? Are the fixer-uppers below—all new listings or recent price reductions—candidates for flips or a high-end rentals?  

Please let your answers be yes, otherwise, I’m going to have to pick up a drill or a paint brush soon.   

4503 89th Ave SE, Mercer Island
(NOTE: The seller is actually accepting offers as low as $649,000)
4 bed, 2.25 bath
What needs work? Exterior paint, landscaping, and… it doesn’t offer any other pictures so we can assume probably EVERYTHING else.  

14415 141st Pl SE, Renton
$324,950 (Down $10,050)
3 bed, 1.75 bath
What needs work? Interior floors, kitchen counters and cabinetry, exterior patio and living area. 

523 Main Ave S, Renton
$199,000 (Down $5,000)
3 bed, 1.5 bath
What needs work? The home is self proclaimed a “handyman’s special.” I’m no assessor, but the foundation looks crooked and the roof quite slanted. At $126 a square foot, let’s assume it all needs work.

  • http://www.yourhoustonhomeinspector.com Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

    Your article has given me a smile. I like your approach in this article. The one nice thing is that the developments of new materials have improved the time between some repairs.They now have 90 year drive ways instead of the 50 year slab concrete ones, and Hardie plank can make the exterior last longer. Who knows, maybe we will start building a house that will last a lifetime? But then we will not have handyman specials.

  • A. Robbins

    Regarding the three fixers you list… The last one is a teardown – value is only in the land. The others are fixers needing a ton of work. The best candidate is the one on Mercer Island because it is well located near the library and high school, right in the center of the island. However, even at $649K it’s still really overpriced. The simple formula I use for determining a reasonable price for a fixer goes like this. Take the average sale price (not asking price) of a couple of totally renovated comparables in the neighborhood that have recently sold. That’s are your benchmark. Subtract the cost of totally renovating your fixer – let’s say $300K. Subtract the margin you want to get – let’s say $100K. That leaves you with the maximum price to pay for your house. In this case, you can see that adding the $400K to a purchase price of $649K will require you to sell the renovated house for $1,050K – a price you are unlikely to get in this market. If this 60′s style split level house were completely renovated right now, the sellers would be lucky to get $850K, and even that price might be a challenge given the glut of unsold houses. My two cents.

  • http://seattle.redfin.com/blog tera.randall

    Frank: You are very correct that we have made developments that keep our materials and homes lasting longer. One interesting thing I read in the NAH study was that many of the modern, green appliances (refrigerators, ovens) have a shorter life span than older products. They don’t last as long, but their impact on the environment during the life cycle has been decreased. Catch 22!

    Perhaps as sustainable building becomes more common, we’ll have green specials!

  • tera.randall

    A. Robbins:

    Interesting formula. I’ve never seen it laid out in that way. I think between $600K and $649K in Mercer Island is a good deal for this home if the buyer has the intention to 1) make financially-smart upgrades and 2) has a desire to actually live in the home for the next three to five years, allowing the market to heat up again and the seller to reap maximum earning potential.

  • http://www.goliveloans.com Joe Dahleen

    Fixer’s – most don’t remember the FHA 203K loan. It allows you to purchase a home and fix it up.
    urchase or Refinance!

    Qualified Transactions

    * Purchase and Renovate a home- Short Sales, Foreclosures, “Fixer-Uppers”, Etc.
    * EEM Refi- Energy Efficient Mortgage Upgrades, including SOLAR OK.-
    * Work with local remodeling contractors

    What is Renovation Lending?

    * Renovation Lending is simply adding the cost of repairs and improvements into the mortgage to purchase or refinance a home.
    * A Renovation Mortgage is a single, first lien position mortgage

    Property Types:
    * Same that qualify for FHA-OO
    * 1-4 units, including converting a 1 unit to a 4 unit or a 4 unit to a 1 unit.
    * Condos and town homes- interior renovations only

    google HUD-92700 and see the work sheet.
    Because it is FHA you to Note: 203(k) and Streamlined (k) mortgages are subject to UFMIP

  • Pat Meyers

    Hey! That second house used to be mine! By the looks of the pictures they haven’t updated anything since I move out(including carpet)15 years ago. Even the blinds on the windows are the same. No way its worth $325K or even close.

  • http://www.vinylsidingworld.com/vinyl-siding-cost.htm Vinyl Siding Costs

    Nice sharing. It is quite right home renovation is not an easy task. Before deciding home renovation you have to concern so many issues. All ideas should be clear in mind regarding renovation. This sort of post will prove very helpful for whom who are deciding for home renovation. Can you give me detail info regarding vinyl siding.