Engel & Völkers Germany > Blog > Tips for investing in a property in need of refurbishment - what to look out for

Tips for investing in a property in need of refurbishment - what to look out for

Investing in a property needs to be well considered both by private individuals and investors. Much deliberation is needed beforehand, a lot of information has to be gathered and decisions have to be made. Would you prefer to have all your ideas and preferences realised in the form of a new development or could you imagine acquiring an existing property or even a property in need of refurbishment? 

As properties age, there is a growing need for refurbishment. In the building industry, refurbishment is defined as the restoration and/or modernisation of a building by means of structural and technical measures. The goal is to repair damage and maintain the value of the building fabric. 

To ensure that the refurbishment project does not turn into a nightmare, we have compiled some important tips for you below.

- Planning on investing in a property in need of refurbishment? Read the latest blog to find out what to look out for before you buy!

Appearances can be deceptive - which is why we need the advice of a professional.

The most important advice is not to be blinded by the often seductively low purchase price of the property. Be aware of the unavoidable follow-up costs, which can be enormous!

Of course, you may come across an old, prestigious property whose condition appears quite acceptable at first glance and which would be available for immediate occupation. But unfortunately, looks are all too often deceptive; the flaws are hidden and only reveal themselves little by little. 

To avoid such unpleasant surprises, you should definitely seek the advice of an experienced building surveyor. He has the knowledge and technical equipment to assess the building fabric and foundation.

A major issue that needs to be expertly addressed is damage to the roof, dampness in the masonry and fungal or mould infestation. Have any materials been used in the past that may be hazardous to health?

In what condition are the electricity, water and piping systems throughout the house? How is the house heated and, above all, how old are the heating systems?

According to the Energy Saving Ordinance, all gas and oil heating systems older than thirty years must be replaced with the latest standard. Fireplaces and tiled stoves installed before 1995 must also be renewed.

Furthermore, the surveyor will check the energy status of the house and assess it for you. In older buildings, the new owners often have to undertake extensive work to insulate the building and replace the windows. 

Once all these factors have been checked and appraised, a reliable estimate of the refurbishment costs can be made and compared with the available funds.

Weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of a property in need of refurbishment

A decision for or against the purchase of a house can be made quickly once realistic, reliable figures are available. 

In addition to the purchase price and refurbishment costs, an estimate of any expected increase in value is also needed. This is of interest to investors and private buyers alike, should a rental or subsequent resale be considered.

Do not forget to check whether the building is protected as a historical monument or whether there are any pending procedures in this regard! Such houses are often particularly attractive, but are also often found in structurally weak areas in which there is stability of value, but no appreciation in value. This could be expected much sooner in attractive conurbations or in emerging locations. 

On top of that: Redevelopment measures take time. To bridge the gap until move-in will require substantial additional financial resources to cover rental costs for the existing home or other alternative solutions.

To sum up: The purchase of a property in need of refurbishment is profitable if the refurbishment is cheaper to realise than a new development.

But let's not completely disregard the emotional side of buying a property. Love at first sight also applies to houses. So, if the financial means and enthusiasm are given, why not follow your heart, take on the project and create a dream home for the entire family? This applies especially if you know that you can do some of the work yourself.

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