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The Secret to Smart Property Investing: Buy Ugly

The property market is incredibly competitive right now – it has been for the past decade or so. But what happens when desperation to get onto the property ladder forces you to settle for a property that needs some serious renovation? Would you ever be so keen to say goodbye to renting that you’d move into a home that will likely resemble a building site for the foreseeable future?

That’s exactly what many families are now choosing to do; choosing the ‘ugliest house on the street’ for a reasonable price, then transforming it, piece by piece, into the beautiful family home they’ve always wanted.

From homes that haven’t been updated since the 1960s, to garish pink or bright yellow homes that have languished on the property market for months, more people than ever before are splashing out on problem properties, renovating them over time and adding hundreds of thousands to the original value.

If the idea of purchasing a fixer-upper sounds appealing to you, consider this important advice before you get started:

Assess your budget

Your budget will dictate everything about the upcoming project you’re thinking of diving into. It’ll dictate how much you can spend on the initial property, as well as how much you’ll be able to devote to the actual renovations. Of course, it can be tricky to decide how much you can allocate to renovations before you’ve actually settled on a property, but having a ballpark figure will help immensely in your search.

Due diligence

Before you put in an offer on any property, it’s important to ask a few questions. The first is: how easy will it be to get planning permission for extensions or changes to this property? If the property is in a conservation area or is a listed building, this could be a lot more complicated than you first anticipated. You should also double-check where the land boundaries lie, to ensure any extensions you plan don’t encroach onto someone else’s property. Enlist a top surveyor (this is one area you can’t afford to scrimp on) to check out the structure of the property – if large-scale changes are needed, you may even be able to negotiate the asking price down.

Living conditions

Ask yourself whether you’ll be able to live in the property while you’re renovating. If the changes you’re making are largely cosmetic and could be finished within a matter of weeks, you may go ahead and put up with living on a building site for that time. If, however, the changes you’re making are structural and could end up taking months to complete, you may need to think about renting a separate property or staying with friends or relatives if you can.

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Alex Wright, Editor