As a real estate buyer, you have a tremendous opportunity for finding great deals if you look past curb appeal. There is a lot of talk by real estate professionals and real estate articles about curb appeal. It is widely known that improving the curb appeal on a house can get you an extra $10K-$20K+ when you sell your home. This also means that there is an opportunity for home buyers to save $10K-$20K+ when you buy a house with less curb appeal.
When looking for a house with less curb appeal this does not mean to look for a run down house. It means to find a house that with a very small amount of work or money can be greatly improved. By looking for a house with less curb appeal and improving it, you can afford a house more expensive then you would be able to afford otherwise, and you can gain instant equity in your new home.
Look for homes that need paint. Paint is very cheap and can make a huge difference on the inside and outside of homes. An unpainted house will typically not be as desirable to buyers as a well painted home, so there is an opportunity to get a good deal.
Find a home with a messy yard. The yard can have a huge impact on the curb appeal of a house. Houses with large untrimmed bushes, dead trees, unmanicured yards, or junk in the yard will greatly lower the perceived value of the home. Yard work is also very inexpensive to fix, and can add a lot of instant equity to your new home. Carpeting and window treatments are also fairly cheap, and can make a huge difference in curb appeal.
Old porches may mean an opportunity to make a gain. Very often porches and decks become damaged, rotted, or start sagging badly. A porch on the front of the house that is badly damaged can make the whole house appear unsound, when actually porches have no bearing on the structural integrity of the house. The porch can have such a negative impact on the way the house appears that it can lower the value sometimes by more then $20,000. After talking to a contractor, you may find that the porch may be fixed for a couple hundred dollars or completely rebuilt for a couple thousand dollars. This is a great chance to get a good deal on a house.
There are some things that you should avoid unless you are looking to do a total remodel project. Items that you may want to avoid are problems with the windows, electrical systems, plumbing systems, foundations, chimneys, roofs, or floors. Be sure to have a trustworthy inspection who will alert you of any more serious problems.
If you want to find a really great deal and are willing to do a little work, look beyond the curb appeal. If you find a house that is less then appealing, but structurally sound, you may have found a hidden treasure.