Real Estate

Is a Fixer Upper Right For a 1st Time Homebuyer?

“Our Homebuyer Workshops and $0 Down Seminars put us in close contact with a lot of first time homebuyers in the DC Metro area”, commented Gerard DiRuggiero, Principal Broker of UrbanLand Company. “It’s great and our firm’s agents love to share their experience with buyers just getting started in the homeownership life cycle. Here’s some important advice we want to share with you based on questions from the audience at some of our recent Saturday workshops.”

A lot of first time homebuyers come to us with a strong interest in buying a home or condo in need of repairs or updates. “There’s a perception with new buyers that a fixer upper property is the ‘golden goose’ and that you get lower prices relative to the market, a chance to put your own personal touches on the home as you make updates, and potentially high future appreciation,” continued DiRuggiero. “While these things can be true in certain situations, there’s a lot of hidden factors and issues that can arise, that make the buyers’ perception not exactly equal reality.”

As a first time home buyer, getting fixated on fixer uppers or any type of special property can be a dangerous thing. “Our best advice to first time homebuyers is to loosen your expectations and requirements when beginning to search for your first home. Find an experienced real estate agent who works with first time homebuyers that wants to help you and earn your business. Get qualified financially and work with your agent to find properties that meet reasonable criteria and get out there and start touring.  Look at properties that are within your price range, and where possible adjust your geographic requirements to match your actual price range.”

When you follow an approach like this, you may find yourself moving into a home sooner than you think. “For most 1st time homebuyers, the priority should be in finding a home that is a good fit now financially. Getting into ownership, building equity and taking advantage of tax savings are very smart things to focus on. When you start diving into fixer uppers, you may be taking on more than you can handle on your first home.”

We’re not suggesting anyone specifically shy away or avoid fixer upper homes. “If you happen to find an ideal home and it needs a few repairs or updates, it is not something to be scared of. It can be an advantage at the negotiating table that your agent can take advantage of for you.  We just recommend not specifically looking for a fixer upper as your first purchase. ”

UrbanLand Company runs weekly $0 Down / First Time Homebuyer Workshops for DC and Maryland. Monthly, FHA 203k Loan Free Workshops for beginning real estate investors are available as well. “For the right buyers, we’re big fans of fixer upper purchases using the FHA 203k loan program, said DiRuggiero. “It can combine with area $0 Down programs and it gives the homebuyer funds to use for updates, all rolled into the mortgage.”

UrbanLand Workshop schedules are available on Facebook or by emailing

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