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Is it Better to Buy, Build or Fixer-upper?

The dream of homeownership is among the top 5 consumer dreams of the general population. If we limit the search to couples and families, homeownership will still gain some position towards the top.

When you are an immigrant who has already gone through their share of hardships while being far from their country, this dream seems even more distant, which only makes the realization of it even more rewarding.

Is that you? What stage of life do you find yourself? Do you believe you are ready for this investment? BRZ is here to help you make the right choice!

Are you ready to buy a house?

Owning a home is a big responsibility and an important milestone in your life, filled with tough choices, mountains of paperwork and a mortgage that can follow you into retirement. Are you well prepared mentally, physically and financially for this purchase?

There are a few points to consider before embarking on the journey of becoming the newest homeowner in town:

  • Can you budget your down payment plus monthly mortgage payments, home insurance, property taxes, and have reserves available for surprise costs?
  • If you rent a home, your current landlord is likely responsible for lawn care, snow removal, maintenance and repair services. If the house is yours, those responsibilities are yours as well. Can you take care of these things? Can you pay someone to do it for you?
  • What is your credit score? A credit score of 580 is acceptable to some lenders, but a score of 620 can result in a better mortgage rate.
  • Do you already have furniture and appliances or will you have to furnish your home? Include this expense in your financial planning.

If the answers to these questions are not all positive, don’t be discouraged. Buying a home is a journey that is worth the time and effort. The better prepared you are, the easier the process will be.

You can simulate homeowners insurance even before buying the house. 

Choose where you want to live

Unfortunately, our first house will hardly be in the neighborhood or on the street we dreamed of. We have to combine will with reality. While price and location are important when searching for a home, there is much more to consider.

It starts with deciding whether you want to buy a house, or an apartment, or even a multi-family property, where you will be resident and landlord, and may include commercial space on the ground floor (for example, a hair salon, bakery or a grocery store).

To buy ready-made, to build, or to restore?

Buying a ready-to-live-in house is more practical, but if you decide to build or even repair it, you can have the house your way.

Before embarking on a home search, decide what type of property best suits your goals. Below we list the pros and cons for each option.

To Buy 

What is the disadvantage of a house that is move-in ready? Well, first, this finished house will hardly be everything you’ve always dreamed of, and if it is, the competition will likely be tough.

According to data from the National Association of Realtors, in December 2019 the inventory of homes for sale in the US reached its lowest level in more than 20 years. In other words, a good, ready-to-live-in house can put you up for auction with other buyers, and require a quick decision in addition to a competitive offer.

To Build

A home built from scratch can seem intimidating and time-consuming, but there are options to speed up and simplify the process.

In the US, there are more practical materials to build and houses that are almost like Legos. In other words, you get it delivered, set it up and voila! Home is ready! There are other types of construction that can take between 30 and 90 days for the house to be at your disposal. The search for a finished house takes an average of 10 weeks, followed by several weeks to close and get the keys.

Another point to consider is that the house will be brand new, with no risk of sudden repairs or outdated hydraulic and electrical systems. Builders offer home-built warranties, protection that doesn’t happen when you buy a finished home.

But before you get carried away with the idea of ​​building, a newly built house can be far more expensive than an existing property. And if you live in established urban areas, getting affordable, buildable land is pretty tough.

Enter the FIXER-UPPER

Called “Fixer-uppers,” some homes deserve to be repaired and restored. However, if you think a renovation is as simple as a TV show, go back two houses.

A renovation on an old or poorly maintained house can be a nightmare. New problems can arise when demolishing a wall or trying to change the floor. However, depending on where you want or need to live, it may be your only option, as in some places nothing new has been built in years.

If you go this route, it is recommended that you work with an experienced home inspector to determine what needs to be addressed. A contractor can outline the scope of work and the potential cost.

Whether you choose to buy, build or repair, there are several mortgage options. In addition to conventional financing, there are specific loans for construction and renovations. A lender who offers loans for the type of property you want can guide you in your choices.

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