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Fixer Uppers Rock!

by Greg Moser of The Moser Group  

Fixer-uppers are an increasingly popular option for home buyers looking to save a little money in exchange for a bit of elbow grease, says Leslie Piper, a real estate agent with San Francisco Bay Area real-estate firm Pacific Union.

But where are the best spots for buying such properties? Based on the percentage, as of December 2014, of home listings that included repair-related terms like fixer, as-is and TLC, the analysis identified both the markets with the most fixer-uppers available and the places where buying one offers the biggest potential price break.

In addition to Clarksville, towns like Omaha, Neb. (53%), Albany, N.Y. (50%) and Greensboro, N.C. (49%), offer significant savings, but, again, supplies are limited these towns' stocks of fixer-uppers number 10, 23 and 1, respectively.

On the other hand, buyers will likely find happier hunting, but smaller discounts, in spots like Atlanta (288 listings, 37% discount), Tampa, Fla. (223 listings, 32% discount) and Philadelphia (348 listings, 17% discount).

And then there are locales where buying a house in need of TLC will scarcely score any savings at all. In Portland, Ore. the median fixer-upper runs $354,928, just 6% lower than the $379,000 median price of a home in good condition. In Prescott, Ariz., the discount is a mere 2%. Lorinda Johnson, an associate broker at Prescott Realty, attributes this small spread to what she says is the town’s stable, retiree-heavy homeowner base.

Regardless of where they settle, buyers considering a fixer-upper should make sure to get estimates from qualified tradespeople to determine just how much they’ll have to sink into the property to bring it up to snuff, says Ms. Piper.

Some repairs, she notes, might be more trouble than expected. Issues like a bad roof or dry rot, for instance, “can be more costly than a buyer might recognize she says, while problems like open subfloors and exposed wiring represent safety hazards that could make it difficult to get a mortgage.

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