Tips for buying a renovator’s dream

Buying a home that is in serious need of renovation is not for everyone and can be riddled with disaster. However, for those who do have the know-how and finances, it could be a very profitable and rewarding endeavour.

Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that the difference between a successful investment and a money trap lies in choosing the right fixer-upper home from the start.

According to Goslett, there are a few reasons why certain investors opt for these kinds of homes, such as the fact that with less competition in the market for fixer-uppers, they are generally lower priced properties in spite of the market conditions. There is also a large potential on the return of investment at resale, with many investors buying fixer-upper homes with the sole intention of selling them for a profit at a later date. Making the right decisions from the beginning will have an impact on the end result of the property’s investment prospective.

The perfect home that everybody wants may be hidden under a variety of elements that would normally turn many buyers away, such as peeling paint and a sagging ceiling. An investor looking to find the ideal fixer-upper will have to see past all that to visualise the home’s true potential.
Goslett gives investors looking for the ideal fixer-upper some pointers to consider:


No matter what kind of property a buyer is interested in, one aspect that will always need to be considered is location. A property’s location will largely determine its value once it has been fixed up and put on the market.  If the house is in need of repair and so is the neighbourhood, there may be a risk of over-capitalising and having a nice house in a bad area. From an investment perspective, it is always better to purchase property in a desirable area that is close to a range of amenities – the rule is to rather buy the worst house in the best suburb than the best house in a suburb which is not well located.


Generally the most sought after type of home in a particular area is the one to choose. If most of the buyers in an area are looking for a three-bedroom home, then don’t buy a two-bedroom one, or if sectional title or estate properties are the way to go, choose an investment home where demand is strong.


The general layout and design of the fixer-upper home needs to work. Moving walls or rectifying a home that has been designed badly can be very expensive. The layout of the home should flow and be practical. For example, if a buyer has small children they would not want bedrooms to be on opposite sides of the property.


It is important to consider the overall condition of the home to decide whether the renovations are manageable or require major changes. If too much needs to be done to make the house liveable, it may be worthwhile looking elsewhere. Aesthetic improvements are typically less costly and take less time than other modifications.

Less costly easy fixes:
  1. Filling small cracks, repainting both interior and exterior.
  2. Sanding and refinishing wooden floors, tiling or laying down new carpets.
  3. Updating lighting with contemporary styles.
  4. Refurbishing or replacing skirting boards.
  5. Fixing broken windows.
  6. Adding a deck.
  7. Resurfacing kitchen cupboards.
  8. Upgrading bathroom fixtures.
  9. Replacing doors.
Potentially costly fixes:
  1. Shoring up foundations.
  2. Adding additional rooms, a garage or moving walls.
  3. Replacing window frames throughout.
  4. Replacing the roof.
  5. Replacing all plumbing and electrical.
  6. Pouring concrete for driveways, sidewalks, steps.
  7. Complete kitchen or bathroom remodels (even though these changes can add value to home).
Goslett concludes by saying that if investors are unsure of anything they should get a professional home inspector to have a look at the property for any major defects that could be very costly to repair. Buyers wanting to purchase a fixer-upper should rather make sure they know what they are getting themselves into from the beginning of the project, than find out at the end.

  Comment on this Article

  Please login to post comments

Post to my facebook wall
Characters remaining

    Latest Property News
    • 25 Apr 2018
      Whether you are a seasoned seller or new to the game, putting your home on the market is an exciting moment. To ensure you get the best possible outcome these 8 value adding additions to your home is worth the effort.
    • 25 Apr 2018
      After four years of unprecedented growth fuelled by semigration, the Southern suburbs market faced a number of challenges in 2017, including dwindling affordability and a marked slowing in house price growth with many sellers forced to lower their prices in order to secure a sale.
    • 25 Apr 2018
      Mall of Africa, is celebrating its second year of sensational success. This splendid super-regional shopping centre first opened on 28 April 2016, and has grown in popularity, performance and profile since then.
    • 25 Apr 2018
      While the role of trustee in a sectional title scheme is a voluntary and unpaid position, it is one that comes with huge responsibility. Trustees have a fiduciary duty towards their scheme, says Chinelle Hewit, Operations Manager at sectional title finance company Propell.
    • 24 Apr 2018
      The thing about the property ladder is that at some point in our lives we all have reason to want to climb a rung or two higher. Sometimes, it’s because we’ve outgrown our previous dream home, or because we want to be in a better neighbourhood that’s closer to work or to schools. Sometimes it’s because our circumstances have changed, and we’re taking care of elderly parents or relatives. Sometimes, it’s just because we want a property that reflects the financial status our hard work has won.
    • 20 Apr 2018
      Whenever changes in the political ecosystem of a traditional property market create uncertainty, smart investors begin to look elsewhere for new opportunities. Property experts at IP Global have analysed the trends and crunched the numbers to find new markets to explore in Europe and the United States.
    • 20 Apr 2018
      Energy and water self-sufficiency are increasingly important factors in home buyers’ choice of property – especially in Cape Town where the extreme drought of the past few years has made municipal supply costly as well as uncertain.
    • 19 Apr 2018
      During the last decade, rampant development has progressively transformed Cape Town’s property landscape with densification being the order of the day, but there are still one or two hidden gems like Scarborough which have retained their original character, offering an inimitable lifestyle and an attractive investment opportunity.
    Subscribe to the MyProperty Newsletter

    Last Name  
    Email Address  
    Email Frequency
    Share this Page

    For Sale Property
    Rental Property
    More Options
    Connect with us