Key Findings

  • 1% of homes on sale in the United States are considered fixer-uppers
  • Fixer-uppers cost a median of $225,000, which is 45% less than a comparable turnkey home of the same size
  • Fixer-uppers in 2022 are 24% cheaper than they were in 2021 ($280,000 on average)
  • There are 15 U.S. cities where fixer-uppers cost less than an average of $100,000; nine of those cities are in the Midwest
  • The median price of fixer-uppers in the San Francisco Bay Area and Austin, TX is more than $1 million
  • In cities like New York, NY; Jackson, MS; Birmingham, AL; and Toledo, OH, fixer-uppers are at least 75% cheaper than a comparable turnkey home
  • After the cost of renovations, fixer-uppers cost, on average, 15% more than comparable turnkey homes

A fixer-upper, according to Redfin, is “a home that can usually be lived in but needs maintenance work (redecoration, redesign, or reconstruction) and is typically offered at a low purchase price.”

The median cost of a fixer-upper in the U.S. is $225,000, 45% cheaper than a turnkey home of the same size and in the same city, based on the data and analysis we’ve compiled here..

Last year, we found that a typical fixer-upper cost $280,000, 24% higher than it stands in 2022. Similarly, in 2021, homes in need of repair were priced an average of 25% lower than regular homes. This year, that difference has nearly doubled. 

“…fixer-uppers cost 45% less than comparable turnkey homes.”

Looking at the home price trajectory of the last 12 months, that’s understandable. As of February 2022, homes were up 19% year-on-year according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. While fixer-upper prices maintained a similar trajectory, they continue to be significantly cheaper than turnkey (move-in ready) homes. 

As home prices are set for a 14% bump by November this year, saving 45% on a home seems an attractive proposition. This is probably why more and more Millennials — who are the largest cohort among home buyers — are considering buying a fixer-upper. A recent survey puts the percentage of Millennials ready to buy a home in need of repair at 82%.

While the trend might seem to indicate buying a fixer-upper is a good deal, there’s more to consider than just the average price across the country. How common are fixer-uppers in the real estate market? In which states and cities can you save the most by opting to buy a home in need of repair? And ultimately, is buying a fixer-upper even worth it, once you’ve factored in the repair cost? 

Regular Features or Rare Finds: How Common Are Fixer-Uppers on the Real Estate Market?

1% of all real estate listings in America are homes classified as fixer-uppers, half the number our study found last year (2%).

Specifically among U.S. states, homes in need of renovation are most prolific in Mississippi and Maine, where they make up nearly 5% of all home listings in these states.

In Utah and Nevada, fixer-uppers are nearly eight times rarer than in Mississippi, as only 0.6% of listings in these states are designated fixer-uppers. Considering these are the states with the youngest housing stock in the country, these figures make sense.

At the city level, the highest share of fixer-uppers among homes listed for sale is in Gary, IN, where almost one in four properties (23%) are fixer-uppers. In Jackson, MS, that share is 14%, while another city in Indiana — Anderson — has the third-highest concentration of fixer-uppers at 11%.

There are cities where fixer-upper inventory is low in the real estate market. Both in Fort Worth, TX and Punta Gorda, FL, only 0.6% of homes on the market are fixer-upper homes. 

Pennies on the Dollar? How Much Fixer-Uppers Actually Cost

As we noted above, the median price of a fixer-upper is $225,000. On average, for that price a purchaser receives a home of 1,400 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. However, this varies significantly based on location. 

There are 15 U.S. cities where fixer-upper homes cost less than $100,000. Most of these cities are in the Midwest, such as Toledo, OH, where a property requiring renovations will cost an average of $27,900, or Saginaw, MI, where an average fixer-upper goes for $35,000.

Yet, just like with all real estate, there are cities where even fixer-uppers can hardly be called affordable. In San Francisco, CA, Austin, TX and San Jose, CA, a house in need of repair costs more than $1 million.

Serious Savings? Fixer-Uppers Nearly Twice as Cheap as Turnkey Homes

Based on our analysis, fixer-uppers cost 45% less than comparable turnkey homes.

To ensure the homes were comparable, we looked at turnkey homes which had the same number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and the same square footage as the average fixer-upper in the same city.

This “fixer-upper discount” was highest in the place where fixer-uppers are the cheapest overall: Toledo, OH. A fixer-upper in this city costs $27,900, which is 81% cheaper than a turnkey home that tends to sell for $150,000.

That said, it’s not all about the small midwestern cities when it comes to saving on a fixer-upper. 

In New York City, homes in need of repair cost 76% less than a typical listing. In Chicago, IL they are 67% cheaper. In Atlanta, GA or Denver, CO, fixer-uppers cost 62% less than a comparable turnkey home.

Is A Fixer-Upper Worth It? Estimating the Cost of Remodeling 

Now that we’ve established what fixer-uppers are and how much they cost, it’s time we answer the question: is buying a fixer-upper worth it?

For a full renovation, where the interior of the home is stripped down to the structural skeleton and foundation, the Remodeling Calculator calculates a median cost of $130 per square foot. At this rate, fixer-uppers cost on average 15% more than turnkey homes of the same size in the same city

Out of the 90 cities in our analysis, only in 40 cities would fixer-uppers still cost less than ready-to-move-in homes after all the renovations are accounted for.

Most notably, this affects cities where fixer-uppers cost the least: Toledo, OH; Gary, IN; and Macon, GA. In these cities, the cost of a fixer-upper quickly surpasses the price of a regular home once the  expense of a remodel is factored in.

Conversely, in cities where homes that are ready for moving in are expensive, buying a fixer-upper and renovating it fully can still save you money compared to buying a turnkey home. 

In New York City, for example, a fixer-upper after full renovation still costs 70% less than a home of the same size that doesn’t require serious repairs. In Los Angeles, CA and Denver, CO, it’d be 44% cheaper to buy a fixer-upper, gut it, and remodel it, compared to buying a turnkey home. In recently buzzworthy Austin, TX, you’d still save 8% going the renovation route.

To see the data for all 90 cities in our analysis, check the table below.

The Verdict? Proceed with Caution

As the analysis has shown, there’s much more than just getting a good deal to consider when looking to buy a fixer-upper. But, there’s also regional variations in the cost of materials and labor, which have been on the rise recently, and your own ability to DIY and/or project-manage the renovation. 

Granted, each home is different and some homes require more renovation than others, fixer-upper or not. One consistent piece of advice for buying a fixer-upper is to book a home inspection. Booking a home inspection can help you avoid being among the 32% of new home buyers who regret buying a home that needs more work or maintenance than expected.

Sources, Methodology, and Data

We analyzed data on the fixer-upper and regular listings, their price, square footage, and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms from Redfin, a real estate brokerage. 

We identified fixer-uppers utilizing the “Fixer-upper” filter on the Redfin website, which filters search results to only include homes that fall under Redfin’s definition of a fixer-upper.

Only cities with at least 10 fixer-uppers on sale as of May 15, 2022, were included in the analysis.

To compare prices of fixer-uppers to prices of turnkey homes, we looked at homes not labeled as fixer-uppers with the same square footage and the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms as a typical fixer-upper listing in the same city. 

For the cost of renovation, we assumed a “complete gut renovation” (full removal of all interior fixtures that leaves only the structural skeleton and foundation behind). As provided by the Remodeling Calculator, the cost of complete gut renovation is a range of $75 – $185 per square foot, and from there we calculated the median figure of 130$ per square foot. 

Photo by Anton Murygin on Unsplash