Rule out the fixer-upper…


They say the secret in buying property is location, location, location. “They” also say to buy the worst house in the neighborhood and fix it up if you want to get the best bang for your real estate buck.

A house in a great downtown Vancouver neighborhood came on the market recently – a short sale – meaning it had been foreclosed on, and the bank just wanted to get its money out. The price was very low for that neighborhood of mostly 1920s craftsman bungalows – certainly in my ball park  if I could sell my house fairly fast. (A gamble right there inasmuch as it’s not even ready to go on the market…)

Streetside it had a lot of curb appeal. So my realtor took me to see it.

On the plus side, all the houses around it are darling, and I have several friends nearby. The house, once fixed up, could be every bit as darling.

HOWEVER. The place on close inspection is a mess, even if you ignored the fact that it was piled high with the owner’s crap in every room. Dry rot around the windows, mildewy basement, bathroom and kitchen redone badly in the 1950s, other random and ill-considered “improvements” made recently.

My current home was a fixer-upper when I bought it in 2002, not because it was in bad shape; it was just dated.  Luckily back then I had the money to hire a great contractor.

This little Craftsman is the perfect project for a couple in their 30s – one of them would be a contractor, the other an architect.  They’d have oodles of energy and enough money to buy quality parts. Every spare minute they’d hammer and wire and plumb away together. Sweet sweat equity.

Alas, not for me any more. My heart just sank at what it would take to make the place livable. I’ve already spent decades of my life dealing with home and hearth issues; I’m ready to do something else.

So, scratch the “fixer-upper” option from my list.


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Filed under Baby steps, Downsizing, Envisioning a simpler life, Rent or buy?

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