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Ask Will: Estimating the Real Cost of an As-Is Home

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A  column is written by Will Wiard, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Washington’s Best Realtors of 2015 by Washingtonian. Please submit your questions via email.

Q: My wife and I recently discovered a home that we love, but are concerned about the state of disrepair because it is being sold as-is. What do you suggest for ball-parking repairs before finalizing our offer?

A: Regardless of the type of home you are buying–new construction, remodeled or as-is–there are typically minor repairs, at minimum, that will be flagged by a home inspector. When buying an “as-is” home, regardless of the condition, the buyer is not entitled to a home inspection or to any fixes or credits from the seller.

There are several reasons a seller would list the home in this category, but the most common is the need for repairs to the property that can be costly.

If you’re interested in buying a home as-is, or even a fixer-upper, it’s a good idea to get an estimate for the costs of the repairs before making an offer. Here’s what I recommend.

  1. Find a contractor. Before you start your home search, look into hiring a contractor or homebuilder. Talking to three or four professionals will help you get a better understanding of the average costs associated with certain projects before you begin the house hunt.
  2. Bring him/her to a showing. Once you’ve found a home you like, ask a contractor to join you at a showing. If they can’t be there, take photos and notes so you can provide the contractor or builder with additional details on needed updates.
  3. Check for a sound structure. The roof and the foundation are two primary structural elements to pay close attention to, as fixing them can be costly. However, identifying if both are in sound condition can be difficult if the property is being sold as is. Keep an eye out for cracks in the foundation both inside and outside of the home, and look and smell for any signs of water leaking into the home. Water damage on the ceiling, damp walls and floors and the smell of mold could be a bad sign.
  4. Budget for unknown repairs. As anyone who has made home renovations can attest, additional repairs are often uncovered once the updates begin. Make sure to add some room in your budget for these unknowns.
  5. Select your finishes. Are you trying to save on costs by selecting generic or sale finishes? Or are you looking for the perfect aesthetic regardless of the price? Swing by your local hardware store to get a better idea of the tile, flooring, wall covering and other finishes available. Your price range for these updates could vary greatly based on what you select.

I’m hoping some readers can share any additional advice they have in comments section below.

Thank you for this week’s question. Please keep them coming to [email protected]. This is also a great place to reach me for anyone looking to buy or sell a home in the Arlington area.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

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