Author Topic: Fixer Upper w/ low payment - Fix it up or sell it, take the equity and move on?  (Read 1064 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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  • Posts: 8
First post.

We purchased a foreclosure roughly 3 years ago.  It is a small 3 BR 1 BA on 3 acres with a basement and walk up attic that was built in 1950.  The main floor is the only livable space.  We could insulate the attic and finish the basement, but those are far down the list.  It needs a lot of attention including replacement of fascia, gutters, new roof on garage, new window trim, new well, bathroom remodel (not a preference, faucet coming out of the wall), various landscaping issues, etc.  Most of these things need immediate attention.  We have already replaced the oil heating system with a new heat pump (heat and a/c) and replaced portions of the septic system.  The winters are hard (no insulation and plaster walls, would need to completely remodel to add any).  We do have a wood stove in the basement that, if fed properly, will heat the house well.  All that said, we love the house, got a great deal and we have room for future expansion if we want it, but I want to make sure I'm being reasonable.

Some stats:

We bought the house for $75,000 in 2014.  We owe around $70,000 (hasn't been our focus).  Zillow currently has it $105,000, but I would expect quite a bit less if we sold it with all the issues.

My income was around $70,000 last year (17% of that was an annual bonus).  My wife is a SAHM to our 2 children (6 yo and 3mo).  We have no debt except for the mortgage and are comfortable, but don't have any significant savings and have not even started thinking about early retirement.  We have two cars that are older (97 and 04), but we really need a truck (for firewood) if we stay here. 

If we decided to take on these projects, we'd either have to prioritize, save money and hope we don't do more damage to the house in the process or take out a loan to address some of them now.  I'm not opposed to DIY, but can't learn everything in such a short time and the tools and supplies, while mostly a one time investment, aren't cheap themselves.

If we decide to put it on the market, there are still things that would need attention prior to selling it. 

I do commute to work (90 miles round trip x 5 days per week).  Ideally, we would move closer.  However, I work in a pretty wealthy area and live in a rural, LCOL one.  We couldn't expect to get anywhere close to our current mortgage payment or the acreage if we move any closer to work.

So... The question:

Should we stay here and continue to invest in the home or should we sell and look for something with lower maintenance?

Thanks all.


  • Magnum Stache
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  • Posts: 4897
Ouch. Not even counting your time, 450 miles a week is something in the neighborhood of $1k/month in fuel/maintenance/depreciation.

Putting a rough $50/hour value on your time and assuming it's all highway miles, that's costing you another $1500 at least.

Presumably any house you lived in (whether renting or buying) near work would cost much less to heat/cool/maintain as well. We don't have the numbers for that but I'm sure you're looking at a few thousand bucks a year.

Sell the place yesterday and go rent a house in town near work. Even at something like $4k/month in rent, you'll be doing better than you are now. I doubt your area is *that* HCOL.