Best Cities to Buy a Fixer-Upper Home

Whether you’re struggling to find an affordable home, or flush with cash and looking to flip, these cities show the highest return on investment for buying and renovating a fixer home.

Even as the real estate market begins to cool somewhat, it’s not easy to buy a home these days. Mortgage rates have gone up and prices are still higher than last year, making affordability tougher than ever.

But in one bright spot, 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, according to an analysis by Porch.com, a software platform for home service industries. And, fixers seem to be going down in price compared with last year—they’re 24% cheaper than in 2021, according to the analysis.

But if you’re not a cash-rich flipper, and you are just looking to buy your first home, is a fixer-upper the way to go? Real estate brokerage Redfin defines a fixer-upper as “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.”

So a fixer might be something you can afford to buy, but can you live in it, can you afford the repairs, and is the savings worth the time, trouble, expense, and risk?

To find the best cities to buy a fixer, Porch.com analyzed data in 90 U.S. cities on fixer-upper and regular listings, prices, square footage, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms from Redfin, which offers a “fixer-upper” filter on their search site.

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

They looked at how much it would cost to renovate in these cities, and added that cost to the price of the fixer, then compared it with the listing prices of turnkey homes. Renovation costs are based on a median $130 per square foot and assumes a “complete gut renovation” (full removal of all interior fixtures that leaves only the structural skeleton and foundation behind).

One of the best places for bargains is Chicago, where you can get a fixer for $200,000, spend $195,000 on renovations and still come in at 35% lower than the $605,000 turnkey home price.

But a fixer home isn’t always a bargain. The median price of fixer-uppers in both San Francisco and Austin, Texas, is more than $1 million. 

For the cash-rich flipper, some of these high-price cities might present money makers. In Los Angeles, for example, if you can come up with nearly a million dollars to buy a fixer plus the money to renovate, you can almost double your money if you sell it at the turnkey price.

But even where fixer homes are cheap, renovations may not be worth it. In Gary, Indiana, where 23.4% of listings are fixers, with a median price of $31,500, the cost to renovate is about $187,000—and you can buy a turnkey home there for around $64,000. In fact, Porch’s analysis found that 50 cities show a negative return on investment in renovating a fixer.

Depending on the square footage, the average cost to gut and remodel a house can be anywhere between $100,000 – $200,000, according to Rocket Mortgage.

Here are 30 cities where the cost of buying a fixer and renovating it is the cheapest compared with a turnkey home. We highlighted some of the home price figures that are below $500,000, and other data points that stand out for anyone looking for a more affordable home.

New York City

Fixer-upper list price: $689,000Comparable turnkey home price: $2.895 millionHow much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -76%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 0.9% (below average)Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $858,000Difference from turnkey home price: -70.4%

While a fixer in New York isn’t cheap, if you’ve got the bucks, it’s the best bargain. If you can get one for $689,000 and put $169,000 into it, that’s $858,000, which is 70% cheaper than the turnkey home listed at $2.9 million.

(Prices are medians and the comparable turnkey homes are in the same city, with the same square footage and number of bedrooms and bathrooms. The square footage of the homes on this list ranges from 1,200 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to 2,600 in Austin, Texas and all the homes are all 2-3 bedrooms and 1-2 baths.)

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Fixer-upper list price: $340,000Comparable turnkey home price: $892,500How much cheaper to buy fixer upper: -62%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 1.7% (above average)Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $496,000Difference from turnkey home price: -44.4%

Fort Lauderdale is a more tempting market for fixers. You can purchase for well under $500,000, and still stay under that number with repairs. It’s a sizeable discount compared to the turnkey home, and there is an above-average number of fixer listings. (The U.S. average is 1%.)

Shutterstock

Denver

Fixer-upper list price: $525,000Comparable turnkey home price: $1.386 millionHow much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -62%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 3.5% (above average)Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $772,000Difference from turnkey home price: -44.3%

Los Angeles

Fixer-upper list price: $977,000Comparable turnkey home price: $2.195 millionHow much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -55%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 1.9% Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $1,224,000Difference from turnkey home price: -44.2%

Chicago

Fixer-upper list price: $200,000Comparable turnkey home price: $605,000How much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -67%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 1.2% (slightly above average)Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $395,000Difference from turnkey home price: -34.7%

Shutterstock

Waianae, Hawaii

Fixer-upper list price: $402,500Comparable turnkey home price: $852,000How much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -53%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 7.1% (well above average)Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $571,500Difference from turnkey home price: -32.9%

Waianae sits on the leeward coast of Oahu, about 31 miles from Honolulu.

Atlanta

Fixer-upper list price: $249,900Comparable turnkey home price: $685,000How much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -64%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 5.2% (well above average)Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $470,900Difference from turnkey home price: -31.3%

Photo: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

San Francisco

Fixer-upper list price: $1.392 millionComparable turnkey home price: $2.25 millionHow much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -38%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 1.3%Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $1.625 millionDifference from turnkey home price: -27.8%

Seattle

Fixer-upper list price: $809,975Comparable turnkey home price: $1.411 millionHow much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -43%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 1.9%Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $1.044 millionDifference from turnkey home price: -26.0%

Honolulu

Fixer-upper list price: $850,000Comparable turnkey home price: $1,398,000How much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -39%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 1.8%Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $1.045 millionDifference from turnkey home price: -25.3%

Shutterstock

Louisville, Ky.

Fixer-upper list price: $122,500Comparable turnkey home price: $441,000How much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -72%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 2.5% (above average)Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $343,500Difference from turnkey home price: -22.1%

Dallas

Fixer-upper list price: $275,000Comparable turnkey home price: $599,000How much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -54%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 1.1% (about average)Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $470,000Difference from turnkey home price: -21.5%

Miami

Fixer-upper list price: $485,000Comparable turnkey home price: $896,400How much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -46%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 1.1%Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $706,000Difference from turnkey home price: -21.2%

Oakland, Calif.

Fixer-upper list price: $672,500Comparable turnkey home price: $1.095 millionHow much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -39%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 3.8%Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $867,500Difference from turnkey home price: -20.8%

St. Petersburg, Fla.

Fixer-upper list price: $265,000Comparable turnkey home price: $525,000How much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -50%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 4.0% (above average)Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $421,000Difference from turnkey home price: -19.8%

Phoenix

Fixer-upper list price: $341,750Comparable turnkey home price: $650,000How much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -47%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 2.1% (above average)Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $523,750Difference from turnkey home price: -19.4%

San Diego

Fixer-upper list price: $775,000Comparable turnkey home price: $1.185 millionHow much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -35%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 1.4%Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $957,000Difference from turnkey home price: -19.2%

Shutterstock

Boca Raton, Fla.

Fixer-upper list price: $499,000Comparable turnkey home price: $909,500How much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -45%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 2.3% (above average)Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $746,000Difference from turnkey home price: -18.0%

New Orleans

Fixer-upper list price: $175,000Comparable turnkey home price: $499,000How much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -65%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 4.3% (well above average)Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $409,000Difference from turnkey home price: -18.0%

In the following cities, the difference in cost between the repaired home and a comparable turnkey home is less than 15%, and the return may or may not be worth the time, trouble and expense. Homeowners should be budgeting at least 20% over the estimated cost of a renovation to allow for contingencies, according to House Method

St. Louis

Fixer-upper list price: $87,450Comparable turnkey home price: $316,000How much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -72%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 4.4% (well above average)Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $269,450Difference from turnkey home price: -14.7%

Las Vegas

Fixer-upper list price: $485,000Comparable turnkey home price: $900,000How much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -46%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 1.4%Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $771,000Difference from turnkey home price: -14.3%

San Jose, Calif.

Fixer-upper list price: $1.022 millionComparable turnkey home price: $1.399 millionHow much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -27%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 1.7%Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $1.204 millionDifference from turnkey home price: -13.9%

Washington, D.C.

Fixer-upper list price: $592,000Comparable turnkey home price: $899,900How much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -34%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 1.2%Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $787,000Difference from turnkey home price: -12.5%

DiegoMariottini / Shutterstock

Trenton, N.J.

Fixer-upper list price: $145,000Comparable turnkey home price: $399,900How much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -64%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 3.6% (above average)Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $353,000Difference from turnkey home price: -11.7%

Shutterstock

Fort Worth, Texas

Fixer-upper list price: $210,000Comparable turnkey home price: $398,500How much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -47%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 0.6% (below average)Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $353,000Difference from turnkey home price: -11.4%

Shutterstock

Jacksonville, Fla.

Fixer-upper list price: $164,000Comparable turnkey home price: $369,000How much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -56%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 2.2%Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $333,000Difference from turnkey home price: -9.8%

Long Beach, Calif.

Fixer-upper list price: $750,000Comparable turnkey home price: $1.012 millionHow much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -26%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 3.1%Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $919,000Difference from turnkey home price: -9.1%

Tucson, Ariz.

Fixer-upper list price: $247,500Comparable turnkey home price: $499,000How much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -50%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 1%Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $455,500Difference from turnkey home price: -8.7%

Shutterstock

Austin, Texas

Fixer-upper list price: $1.05 millionComparable turnkey home price: $1.517 millionHow much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -31%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 1%Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $1.388 millionDifference from turnkey home price: -8.6%

Newnan, Ga.

Fixer-upper list price: $224,900Comparable turnkey home price: $534,900How much cheaper to buy fixer-upper: -58%Listings that are fixer-uppers: 4.5% (well above average)Cost of fixer-upper after repairs: $497,900Difference from turnkey home price: -6.9%

In March of 2021, a major tornado tore through Coweta County where Newnan is located, about 40 miles from Atlanta. The tornado damaged more than 1,700 homes, another 70 homes were completely destroyed and roughly 120 more had “major damage,” according to Atlanta’s WXIA TV.

Visit Porch.com to see how all 90 U.S. cities compare.

Related Posts