Like many people, my husband and I always wished to invest into real estate and become one of those kick ass rehab home couples on TV. We decided that if we wanted to make this wish a reality we needed to start now, and that meant not only becoming first time home owners, but becoming first time rehab home owners. We finally made our wish come true but it did not come easily. We had to be very patient and make many sacrifices to make it happen. Although we are far from being professionals in home purchasing and renovating, I wanted to share OUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCES in hopes that young couples going through the same process for the first time may benefit from it. So here it is… below is a list of the 5 things we wish we would have known before starting our rehab journey.
1. IT TOOK US ABOUT THREE MONTHS TO FIND OUR HOME
We quickly learned that it was not as easy as looking at 3 houses and choosing the one we liked best (darn you HGTV). Not only did we have to look at many, many houses before finding the right one, but once we found “the one” there was a handful of other people who also felt it was “their one”. With the economy rising and many people out purchasing again, it quickly became bidding wars after bidding wars, sometimes even driving the price up $20,000-$40,000 above asking price. It especially became frustrating when investors would come in to the mix. We just knew we did not even stand a chance.
2. IT TOOK ANOTHER FOUR MONTHS TO CLOSE
Apparently a rehab home buying process requires much more paper work, approvals, multiple inspections and appraisals than a regular FHA loan. We had over five extensions and feared that the bank was going to pull out of the contract. Not only this but we had an initial closing date for end of July and our leased ended in mid July. My mom graciously offered us to stay in her small apartment for a few weeks and those few weeks turned into a few months! We didn’t close until end of September and the rehab took much longer than we expected. Bless my mommy’s heart and patience!
3. NOT ALL INFORMATION IS DISCLOSED AT CLOSING
Our home was initially a bank owned foreclosure sold “As Is” . We later learned through our neighbors that our home had been empty for over five years. A few days after purchasing the home the water company came over and turned the water on. That afternoon we showed up to the house and to our surprise saw a collapsed kitchen ceiling and a flood of water up to our ankles. The plumbing was the only thing the inspector could not check because the water was off, so of course it was going to be the one thing that completely caught us by surprise. This was only the beginning as we soon discovered that every single pipe in our two family home was busted. This was absolutely not in our plans and it was going to cost a fortune to get a plumber in and do all of the work which we couldn’t afford. Instead my husband decided to look up tutorials and learned how to fix the plumbing himself. It took almost a month of working every weekend and evening after work to complete the work on his own.
4. PREPARE TO SPEND MORE MONEY THAN YOU BUDGET FOR
You do your research, check prices and make a budget and soon realize you are about $200-$300 over your budget. That is because all of the little details such as equipment, rentals and small little items needed to complete the work quickly add up. Rehab goes beyond new countertops, fresh paint, tile and toilet/sink. Things like new doors and knobs, cabinet hardware, changing every light fixture and light switch… It all adds up and fast!
5. IT WILL NOT BE EASY, BUT IT WILL BE WORTH IT!
After spending a total of 6 months living in extremely tight quarters at my mom’s, the house was finally safe enough for us to be able to move in. We then spent another two months working on a lot of the cosmetic work. We are still nowhere near finishing up the home. Things are coming together slowly and we are working towards finishing up all the little details that take up so much work, and as mentioned above, money. However, looking at all of our before and after pictures and seeing how far we have come is one of the most rewarding experiences. It might not be perfect but it is ours and we are loving our perfectly imperfect rehab home journey.