THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.
Last week, I shared that we found a luxury home online and decided to go to its open house. From the pictures online, we weren’t fond of the home’s exterior. But, we figured a different paint color could improve it. Because of the exterior, we weren’t necessarily expecting a turnkey home, but we had high hopes for the interior.
The pictures from inside the home were just immaculate. From cathedral ceilings and crystal chandeliers to the indoor pool and sauna, we expected grandeur. But, pictures can embellish. This McMansion reminded me more of the house from the movie The Money Pit.
The Open House
From the moment we stepped out of the car, we noticed some issues. The walkway leading up to the front door needed some broken flagstone replaced. So right away, we learned of some exterior cosmetic issues. We just figured it was an “ugly house” that needed a facelift.
This was less of an issue, but more of a comical moment– there were fake flowers in the planters on both sides of the front door. Yes, fake flowers. And the price tags were still on these flowers. Afterwards, my wife and I wondered if the owners left the tags on in hopes of returning them after the open house.
Anyways, an unattractive exterior is one thing, but with two kids, I wasn’t interested in a fixer upper.
Just to clarify– I think there is a big differentiation between an “ugly house” versus a fixer upper. To me, an ugly house includes cosmetic issues such as paint, carpeting, or flooring. My idea of a fixer upper is a home where issues would include anything structural or safety-related in nature, such as foundation, roofing, or siding.
Inside the House
So we began trekking through the house. It was evident, right off the bat, that there was a lack of attention to detail. The homeowners didn’t seem to have put much money towards maintenance over the years. The hardwood floors had scratches and nicks, as if someone had worn soccer cleats throughout the home. Furthermore, there wasn’t consistency with the flooring. Some of the rooms had with the same wood stain while an adjacent room would have a different width of wood and color. I hadn’t seen anything like it before. But it wasn’t a huge deterrent. I figured that while it would be expensive, that we could re-sand and refinish all the floors, so everything would match and flow nicely.
Each room seemed to have a different agenda. One room would have a gorgeous chandelier and pristine detailing. The next room would have different paints from multiple paint jobs, a sloppily patched up hole in the wall, and no sign of any moulding or trim. The realtor indicated that they owner was currently doing some updates in order sell the house. In fact, there was a gardener in the backyard planting flowers. Maybe he was using fake flowers… That would definitely be less maintenance, and sadly I wouldn’t have put it past these owners. I wondered why they wouldn’t have finished the updating prior to the date of the open house. The home had been on the market for over a month.
Even so, I was still optimistic by this point. But then things started going downhill from there. The realtor touted how they just installed brand new appliances in the kitchen, but the refrigerator door had a huge dent in it. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought they bought a clearance refrigerator and hoped nobody would notice the dent, or worse, they put the dent in themselves in a short period of time.
We noticed as we were walking in the kitchen that our shoes were sticking to the floor. By that time, the realtor noticed our facial expressions and mentioned that the owner was very motivated to sell and was very negotiable.
Considering an Offer
My wife and I suddenly became interested again. We decided to keep looking to calculate how much we’d be willing to offer considering the work we would have to put into the home. Walking out on the deck, we soon learned that whole structure would most likely need to be gutted and redone. It did not appear to be up to code. There were huge gaps in the railings that I could have easily put my 18-month old through. The wood, as well, had warped and needed replacing. Additionally, the built-in hot tub was broken, and mildew had formed all over the top of the cover.
From there, we ventured back inside to view the five bedrooms upstairs. Everything appeared decent until we walked into the master suite. Clearly something was wrong, as the floor started to slant. As I mentioned in a previous post, I wish I had brought a marble to confirm my inclination. I suspected some sort of foundational problem.
That was my biggest red flag thus far. I did not want to take on a home with structural issues. I’ve read that installing new beams in the house can cost some serious money if you want it done correctly.
But I couldn’t stop looking at the house because I had to see the indoor pool in the basement. That is what drew me to this house, after all. As most of you know, I am/was obsessed with having a pool. I may have put that obsession to rest though…
My Beloved Indoor Pool
As we walked down the stairs, I could smell the chlorine in the air. The realtor mentioned that the owners kept the doors to the indoor pool open to ventilate. At that point, I knew that there was no chance I would be buying the house, if that hadn’t been clear before.
The fact that they kept the doors open told me that they didn’t know how to properly maintain the pool and its chemical levels. In turn, I wouldn’t be surprised if mold had built up behind the drywall in the surrounding rooms due to this makeshift “ventilation” system. A plumber in Los Angeles would have been able to tackle this job as indoor pools are a dime a dozen there, but it appears as though these homeowners didn’t have the slightest inkling of how to maintain this space.
This ventilation system caused the whole basement to feel muggy and humid. I couldn’t imagine putting any guests down there for a night. We also couldn’t believe the various holes in the walls where exposed cable wires ran on the outside instead of hidden inside the walls. Honestly, I had never seen anything like that before.
Buying a Fixer Upper
So you would consider this home a fixer upper, right? According to Zillow, the average fixer upper is discounted by 8%, which is the equivalent to an $11,000 discount on average. Personally, when I think of fixer uppers, I think that the house needs at least 25% off the asking price to account for all the work involved, but clearly isn’t the case.
Based on an 8% discount, I would avoid a fixer upper because this seems like too small of a discount to do all the work required for these homes.
In fact, according to Home Advisor, the average kitchen remodel costs $20,000, with a bathroom remodel costing $13,000, and finally a basement remodel costing $18,000. It doesn’t seem like the 8% discount would cover the amount of money needed to fund these remodels.
Interestingly enough, the aforementioned home has dropped 9% less than the original asking price, which is in line with the fixer upper discount.
Not For Us
My wife and I tried to calculate the costs of all the repairs and improvements in order to bring the house up to code and to our standards. The numbers led us to believe that they would need to reduce the price by another 20% for us to ever consider. But even so, we didn’t want to take on this type of project at the moment.