Data on how higher housing prices are pushing more people to purchase fixer-uppers

As housing prices rise, one potential option for homebuyers is to purchase a home needing repairs or renovation. Here are some numbers on this option:

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“When everyone else is looking for a move-in ready home, there’s less competition for the fixer-uppers,” said Daryl Fairweather, chief economist at Redfin Corp. “I would not advise it for the faint of heart, but there are a lot of people who are willing to take on that risk because there is such a high reward.”

In 2021, homes in need of renovation sold at a faster pace than the two prior years, according to data from Realtor.com. Fixer-upper sales jumped 13.4% from 2020 to 2021, while the dollar volume of those deals surged 40.8% from 2019 to 2021, reflecting the high growth in sale prices across the broader market. Plus, listings described as “fixer-upper” or using other related terms by agents increased by 8% in December from the previous year…

In a survey by housing research firm Zonda, 33% of respondents said they would buy a fixer-upper for their first or next home but “only if I got a great deal.” Meanwhile, 27% said they would “if the repairs are minor.” Just 20% responded with a “no thanks.”…

On average, fixer-uppers cost 13% less than their move-in ready counterparts, or are about $40,000 less than the typical U.S. home value, according to Zillow. But if that home needs $80,000 to make it livable, that’s not such a great deal, Pendleton said. She recommends that those fixing up homes add an extra 20% onto their budget as a cushion for the unforeseen. 

As the article notes, not everyone has an appetite, resources, or the skills for renovation. But, if the housing options are limited, this appears to be an increasingly attractive option for some. The data cited above suggests a small bump in people selling and buying such homes.

This is also interesting to consider from the other side: the sellers. If someone had a home that needed significant repair, this might be the time to not do those repairs and still get a good price. All those homes needing “TLC” or sold “as-is” now might not linger on the market for months.

More broadly, this hints at how much housing in the United States is eligible for repairs and renovation. The postwar suburban boom started roughly 70 years ago now. Those homes have already likely experienced a lot of repair and change and will undergo more in the upcoming decades. The McMansions of the 1990s and early 2000s will be the fixer-uppers of the future. And since Americans tend to like DIY projects and homeownership, we could be in for more decades of renovations.

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