Tips for buying a ‘Doer Upper’
Published 3 September 2018
Traditionally demand for properties in need of renovation has been largely driven by builders and buy-to-let investors, who have had the ability to buy and the budget to take on such projects. But the stamp duty levy of three per cent on such properties, coupled with the exemption from stamp duty for first-time buyers on the first £300,000, means we are now seeing many more owner-occupiers, and especially first-time buyers, taking this step as an affordable route into home ownership.
At the same time, we are seeing some landlords selling properties as the tax changes eat into their profitability. Often these are houses which have been basically maintained, but which have not been improved for some time. That can be an attractive proposition for an owner-occupier doer-upper: the property will be structurally sound, and could well be ripe for relatively simple improvement with things like a new kitchen or bathroom, exposing wooden floors, or uncovering fireplaces.
Buying the right property in the first place is key to becoming a successful doer-upper. Location is very important, but so is buying a property which doesn’t necessarily need structural improvements (because this can eat into your budget). It is vital to get a survey done for you rather than for the mortgage company. Taking a contractor to view the property before purchase can give you a good idea of what will be involved; many contractors are happy to do this free of charge, as they see it as a route to winning business.
Although it is becoming more difficult to find properties in need of modernisation in the best areas, it is not impossible - so keep your eyes peeled and dust off those overalls.
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