Real Estate Q&A

Question: I’m looking to buy a home in Connecticut. Is it better to buy an older home and renovate myself, or should I buy something that’s new or been renovated? What makes the most financial sense?
 As a former SVP in Banking I get these types of questions often. It’s impossible to know what is best for you without knowing your debt comfort level (your mortgage broker will help you know what you qualify for), but if you are looking for a deal the best are often older homes in need of renovations or updates.

Most buyers can’t see potential, therefore will pay top dollar for turnkey homes. But the truly best deals come by the way of fixer uppers and homes that need the most TLC. It’s all about what you’re willing to take on (and your timeline), but if the idea of renovations and turning something drab to fab doesn’t turn you off, then I say “go for it!” The best returns come from the transformations that unleash the potential in homes; it’s there just waiting for a person life yourself. These older—sometimes historical—homes can be rewarding both personally and financially. Saving a home and giving it a second chance will always win in my book, as older homes offer more details, millwork and design opportunities than most cookie-cutter renovations or spec homes. Don’t get me wrong, there are breathtaking new (and newly renovated) homes that offer the magic of the mix, but you’re going to pay top dollar for these because the work is already done.

If renovations are not your thing, then a move-in-ready home is in order. Just be prepared to pay for this convenience. Personally speaking, once you know the town you want to live in it’s truly best to see everything available in your price point—including fixer-uppers. You’ll get a much better understanding of value and demand. Knowledge is power, so it’s best to see the inventory for yourself and see how far your budget can go.