Why Today’s Buyers Are Saying ‘NO’ to Fixer-Uppers

Photo by Ono Kosuki

In the current real estate market, more buyers are shying away from the costs and headaches of major renovations, instead opting for turnkey homes that are ready for move-in. This shift is evident in the lowered demand for unrenovated homes and the increased market duration for properties in need of significant repair or updates.

High Mortgage Rates and Rising Property Prices

One of the main drivers behind this drop in demand for fixer-uppers is the increase in mortgage rates. “Fixer-uppers are always a risky proposition for buyers, but now they are more costly as the rates for home loans and construction loans have both increased, on top of high property prices,” reports Veronica Dagher in the Wall Street Journal. The high costs associated with purchasing and renovating homes have left many buyers reluctant to take on such projects.

The Impact on Sellers

This change in buyer preference has implications for sellers as well. Properties requiring extensive work often stay on the market longer, unless sellers are willing to undertake renovation work before listing. According to Lawrence Yun, the National Association of Realtors’ chief economist, sellers can no longer count on a frenzy of offers from buyers willing to waive inspections on properties in need of repairs.

A Case in Point

The story of Bob Evans (as found in the WSJ article) perfectly encapsulates the current trend. Evans had difficulty selling his two-bedroom condominium due to its dated décor. After no offers in five months, he decided to invest $20,000 to remodel the unit himself, planning to relist it for a higher price.

The Impact of Financial Strains on Buyer Decisions

Taylor Marr, Redfin’s deputy chief economist, notes, “Most home buyers right now simply don’t have enough money left over to invest in major repairs or remodeling.” This financial strain, coupled with the potential for unexpected renovation work and rising costs, has discouraged many potential buyers from purchasing fixer-uppers.

Not All Markets Are Equal

While this trend holds true in many markets, it’s important to note that it’s not universal. In some real estate markets, where few homes are for sale, buyers may have little choice but to purchase one that needs work. On the flip side, in other areas where bidding wars remain common, unrenovated houses can still fetch top dollar—it just may take longer.

In Conclusion

Today’s real estate market is characterized by high property prices and increasing mortgage rates, pushing many buyers away from fixer-uppers. As an experienced real estate agent, understanding these trends can help in guiding your clients toward making a decision that suits both their financial capacity and their willingness to undertake home improvements.

*The information and quotes were sourced from Veronica Dagher’s article in the Wall Street Journal.


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