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The Best and Worst Cities to Buy a Fixer-Upper

On average, fixer-uppers are priced 25% lower than typical homes—in some cities they are a bargain, in others, they're not such a great deal.

In a housing market where demand for homes is high, prices are rising quickly and supply is struggling to keep up, buying a house is not easy or cheap. To get the home they want at an affordable price, many homebuyers turn to fixer-upper homes. 

Should you consider this option? Popular TV shows like “Fixer Upper” and “Property Brothers” make it look quick and easy, but things probably aren’t going to go so quickly, smoothly, or on budget.

On average, fixer-uppers are priced 25% lower than typical homes, according to an analysis by Porch.com, a home resource site that connects homeowners with local home improvement contractors.

But in this real estate market, even fixers can be priced out of your range. The average price of a fixer across the cities in Porch.com’s study was $280,000. The most expensive city to buy a fixer is San Francisco where, it’s $1.3 million—for a fixer.

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The ideal fixer-uppers are those that require mostly cosmetic improvements, not houses that need structural improvements or major repairs such as plumbing, electrical, or roofing, according to This Old House, the remodeling site based on the PBS TV show. Cosmetic improvements include paint, drywall repairs, floor refinishing, lighting fixtures, doors, window shutters, siding, and kitchen and bathroom updates, because these offer the most return for your money. Any job that you can do yourself is also going to be a money saver, according to This Old House.

To find the best and worst cities to buy a fixer-upper home, Porch.com took the 500 most populated cities in the U.S. and looked up their housing market details from Redfin, a national real estate brokerage. Only the cities that had data available on Redfin, and at least five homes designated as “fixer-uppers” in current sales listings, were included in the final list. The final dataset contains 100 cities spanning 40 states, and the District of Columbia.

Based on their analysis, here are the cities where buyers can save the most and the least on a fixer, followed by the cities that have the most of these types of properties for sale.