How To Tell If Buying A Fixer-Upper Is A Good Idea, Or If You’re Just Obsessed With Reno Shows

I have a dream. It involves me and a ruggedly handsome, bare-chested man in overalls. He gently carries me into a dilapidated old Queenslander, lays me on the dusty wooden floor and pulls out his paint swatch (not a euphemism). 

Over the next six months we bring the old house back to life. Our bathroom has Moroccan tiles. Our bedroom has a window seat. We eat take away dinners on a blanket on the floor because we don’t own any furniture. But we don’t mind. It’s blissful. It’s loving. It’s renovating. 

That’s true to life, right? That’s how all renovations go down, yeah? It’s not actually a chaotic, expensive mess that’s never completed with any sense of satisfaction. It definitely doesn’t involve hordes of tradies who sound like Scott Cam tramping through your bathroom yelling about skirting boards. 

The thing with fixer-uppers though, is that often they’re cheap. And cheap is good when you’re trying to break into the buyers market. But when is buying a reno a good idea and when is it going to ruin your life (and potentially your bank account)?

ME Bank’s General Manager of Home Loans, Andrew Bartolo, has the answers to your home buyer questions:

Is it better to buy something already renovated or one that needs work?

Right to the point. Excellent, let’s get this reno started. According to Andrew, it comes down to you and your personality. Like, do you re-watch The Block? Do you absolutely froth going to Bunnings? Do you speak tradie fluently and live for getting your hands dirty? Sounds like you’re into renovations.

“Just keep in mind that TV shows make renovating look easy. It’s not. Even if you manage to find a budget-friendly architect, a reputable builder and reliable tradies, the actual work is noisy, disrupts power and water, and almost always takes longer than expected. Buying a new or already renovated place is much easier,” he says.

Is there a particular time of year that’s best to enter the housing market?

I’ve wondered myself this many times. Like, is it cheaper to buy in winter because the weather is miserable and no one wants to go to open houses in the rain? Is that a thing? By the same notion would that make summer the most expensive and hotly competed time to buy? 

Apparently, it’s not. Andrew reckons there’s no ‘best’ time to buy a house. “Just go when you’re ready. Get the basics right, do your research, find a suitable property at a good price, get your finances in order, and then go for it,” he says. “History tells us property prices go up over time. So it’s a good idea not to wait too long.” Okaaayy, you heard it here first.

How do you go about buying a property with a partner? Is it better to go it alone?

This is where my hot man in overalls comes back into the picture. In my fantasy he’s not just some random painter, over at the house to do my living room walls. No, this hot man is my life partner. My soul mate. Reno-mate, if you will.

Andrew reckons that buying with a partner is a good way to be able to afford a nicer house and/or save a deposit quicker. Makes sense. “It’s common and relatively easy. But you need to have a hard conversation about an exit strategy. What happens if you break up? You should definitely get professional advice before going into it,” he advises. 

“Also, research the difference between ‘joint tenants’ and ‘tenants in common’. You’ll want to know your options.” Thanks for the heads up Andy, appreciate it. 

And there you have it folks. If you’ve got any more questions about home buying, contact an ME Bank Mobile Banker.