Thursday, 6 November 2014

To Gut or Not To Gut

There was a time, not long ago, where dumpy old houses that needed to be gutted were a deal. No one besides contractors would go near them. But then along came HGTV and everyone saw that it was possible to buy a dumpy house, renovate it, and then sell if for more. Flipping properties became a bit of a sport for awhile, but the success of flipping houses brought out more flippers, and now I find that the dumpy houses in a hot neighbourhood can be quite expensive, and not always worth the money. Many of the Toronto public housing that have come to market these past few years have received multiple offers. They have limited marketing, and the houses have not had any care in decades. Still, the bidders come. So, let me be clear. There are no guaranteed bargains here any more. It can happen! But don't assume.

Of course, there is an upside to doing it yourself. You can do every thing right and to the specifications you like. Sometimes, buyers have certain expectations of a fully renovated house. If the house looks amazing, it is often assumed that all of the stuff behind the walls is in good working order like the plumbing and the wiring. That's not always the case. The benefit of gutting a house: You see the house stripped down and there are no secrets hiding behind the walls.

Buying a renovated home has its perks though. The biggest one: You don't have to do any of the renovation work, and you simply move in and enjoy! Of course, the downside, if you find the prettiest house on the block, you will have some serious competition. Though gut-worthy house are not the deal they used to be, renovated houses are like catnip for most buyers. The bidding wars can be tougher here, but if you are able acquire the house, it is easier than the gut-job home.  You won't have to spend a year or more pulled away from your career to tend to a renovation or to apply for the necessary permits. I would say most people do choose this easier route. And who can blame them, really.

Still, there are benefits to both.  if you are the kind of person who likes a project and dreams of putting your mark on you home, then I say, "Get your gut on!" Just make sure you are fully aware of the time and cash commitment will be required. If you prefer the thing done, then that's okay too. Just don't assume it will be perfect. All old houses have their issues, even after renovations.

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