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  • A new report on StorageCafe identifies the best and worst U.S. cities for buying a fixer-upper, based on a combined metric including average cost savings and the share of active listings represented by fixer-upper properties. 

A new report on StorageCafe reveals the best cities for buying a fixer-upper. 

Whether the buyer’s goal is to save money on a home they can renovate to their heart’s content or to turn a fixer-upper into a move-in ready property they can flip or rent out, these cities yield the biggest savings upfront.

Among the 50 largest U.S. cities analyzed, one in 10, on average, qualifies as a “fixer-upper.” But in the most fixer-upper friendly markets, many homes “in need of some TLC” account for close to 30% of active listings.

Fixer-upper homes carry a $283,000 median price tag—29% lower than the typical turnkey home. And in 20 of the 50 most populous metros, fixer-uppers cost 50% less.

StorageCafe_How-much-does-a-fixer-upper-cost-in-the-US-chart

Source: StorageCafe

The folks at StorageCafe ranked 51 major metros based on a combined metric that factors in potential savings along with the availability of fixer-upper homes on the market. 

Read on to see who made the top 10. 

Making the numbers work

Saving money upfront isn’t always a bargain. If the cost of needed repairs exceeds the amount you’re saving by opting for a fixer-upper over a typical move-in-ready home in your area, that up-front savings can evaporate pretty quickly. 

Any additional costs the buyer undertakes for cosmetic renovations tip the scales even further. 

Of course, whether it’s worth it or not depends on the buyer’s goals for the home. If they’re planning to live there long-term, they may consider the investment well worth it. But if they’re hoping to flip the home for a profit, it pays to know what it will cost to make the home move-in ready. 

And that goes beyond the asking price to include the average cost of home renovations in your market, along with the maximum home renovation loan available. 

That can vary quite a bit from one city to another. 

For example, according to home improvement loan data from Construction Coverage, a home makeover in Wichita, KS, can cost as little as $45,000. But to restore a home in San Jose, CA, to its former glory, you’re looking at an average cost of $255,000. 

Plenty of buyers out there are leaning toward the fixer-upper route, not just because they tend to cost significantly less than move-in-ready homes, but also because they like the idea of customizing the home to reflect their own tastes and adapt it to their lifestyle. 

So, where can a budget-minded buyer find a bargain renovation project?

Some metros have more of those than others. And to identify the best places to shop for fixer-uppers, StorageCafe turned to its sister division Point2—a full-service real estate search portal–and analyzed over 70,000 active listings in 51 of the most populous U.S. cities, calculating the difference in asking prices between move-in-ready homes and those displaying fixer-upper verbiage like “as is,” “TLC,” and “good bones.”

From there, it was a matter of ranking the cities based on a combined metric that factors in potential savings along with the share of for-sale homes represented by fixer-uppers. 

Even folks looking for fixer-uppers like to have options. 

Turns out, fixer-uppers across all those 50 metros come with a median price tag of $283,000, which is 29% lower than a typical move-in-ready home, resulting in an average cost savings of nearly $117,000. 

And as already mentioned, the difference in price goes up to 50% in 20 of the 50 largest cities.

The 10 Best Cities for Buying a Fixer-Upper

For those looking to buy a fixer-upper rather than a move-in-ready home, here are the ten metros with the best combination of active listings and cost savings: 

  1. Los Angeles, CA
  2. Chicago, IL
  3. Long Beach, CA
  4. Kansas City, MO
  5. Minneapolis, MN
  6. Dallas, TX
  7. Fresno, CA
  8. Baltimore, MD
  9. Louisville, KY
  10. Philadelphia, PA
StorageCafe_10-best-cities-for-buying-a-fixer-upper-map

Source: StorageCafe

Fixer-upper Savings for the Top 10 Markets

Los Angeles, CA

  • Average price of move-in ready homes: $1.9 million
  • Average price of a fixer-upper: just over $1 million
  • Average upfront savings: $945,000
  • Average remodeling cost:  $155,000

Chicago, IL

  • Average price of move-in ready homes: $424,000
  • Average price of a fixer-upper: $235,000
  • Average upfront savings: $190,000
  • Average remodeling cost: $75,000

Long Beach, CA

  • Average price of move-in ready homes: $972,000
  • Average price of a fixer-upper: $837,499
  • Average upfront savings: $134,501

Kansas City, MO

  • Average price of move-in ready homes: $399,900
  • Average price of a fixer-upper: $170,000
  • Average upfront savings: $229,900
  • Average remodeling cost: $65,000

Minneapolis, MN

  • Average price of move-in ready homes: $330,000
  • Average price of a fixer-upper: $204,000
  • Average upfront savings: $125,000
  • Average remodeling cost: $65,000

Dallas, TX

  • Average price of move-in ready homes: $500,000
  • Average price of a fixer-upper: $283,000
  • Average upfront savings: $217,000
  • Average remodeling cost: $105,000

Fresno, CA

  • Average price of move-in ready homes: $452,000
  • Average price of a fixer-upper: $303,000
  • Average upfront savings: $149,000
  • Average remodeling cost: $85,000

Baltimore, MD

  • Average price of move-in ready homes: $237,000
  • Average price of a fixer-upper: $135,000
  • Average upfront savings: $102,000

Louisville, KY

  • Average price of move-in ready homes: $320,000
  • Average price of a fixer-upper: $185,000
  • Average upfront savings: $135,000
  • Average remodeling cost: $65,000

Philadelphia, PA

  • Average price of move-in ready homes: $278,000
  • Average price of a fixer-upper: $182,000
  • Average upfront savings: $96,000
  • Average remodeling cost: $75,000

Source: StorageCafe

Western cities rank lowest for fixer-upper potential

Henderson, NV, is the least favorable for buyers looking to purchase a makeover project. Only 3% of local inventory qualifies as fixer-upper material. 

Mesa, AZ, has the same low supply of homes in need of renovation (3%), followed by Sacramento, CA, where 4% of active listings hint at their fixer-upper potential. 

Tucson and Phoenix are other Arizona metros where buyers looking for fixer-uppers have their work cut out for them. 

Outside the southwest, Texas also has some cities where fixer-uppers account for a small share of active listings. One of the reasons for this is the high volume of new construction added over the past decade that has revitalized housing stock across the state. 

Houston, in particular, as one of the most active real estate markets of the past 10 years, came first for single-family home construction, with 55,600 building permits issued between 2013 and 2022. At present, only 1% of active listings in this metro qualify as fixer-uppers. 

In some metros, fixer-uppers cost more than turnkey homes

Fixer-uppers aren’t always the less expensive option for homebuyers. In some metros, homes in need of some renovation can cost even more than a move-in-ready home. 

The reason often boils down to location; fixer-uppers in historic or highly-coveted neighborhoods can command a higher price, despite the additional costs involved for renovations, compared to turnkey homes in less desirable locales.

In Austin, TX, for example, a fixer home can cost nearly $260K more than turnkey homes in the area. Most of these fixer-uppers are located in some of the most desirable neighborhoods, like Zilker and Bouldin Creek. 

Buyers shopping for homes in South Austin and Johnston Terrace are also willing to pay more for a home, even if it comes in need of some pricey renovations—or sweat equity (or both).

Then there’s San Jose, CA, where fixer-upper homes tend to cost more than move-in-ready options by around $181K, largely because the fixer homes generally run larger and are located in coveted neighborhoods like West San Jose, Dorsa Miller, or Overfelt High. 

The same goes for San Diego, CA, where fixer-uppers cost an average $35K more than the typical move-in-ready home, largely due to their location in neighborhoods like Point Loma Heights, Sunset Cliffs, and Ocean Cliffs. 

Read the full report on StorageCafe for more information, including methodology.