Real Estate Information Archive


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Rooms for improvement: The Joys and Challenges of Fixer-Uppers

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

google map to real pro systemsThe house that needs work – it's not for everyone. But then, the secret of real estate success, for both a professional like me and a potential customer like yourself, is finding the one home that's right for you. And a fixer-upper even offers the opportunity to have your dream house not be found, but made.

It's important to keep in mind the balance of challenges and chances that a fixer-upper presents. For buyers with cost as a concern, a house needing work will definitely be more affordable – though the discount can stem from some major problems, and the price savings go hand-in-hand with later renovation expenses.

Even so, at the initial bargain price some families find a fixer-upper comfortable enough to live in while saving for renovation. This kind of at-home pioneering makes fixer-uppers not the best idea for first-timers. However, experienced homeowners have an edge, being more familiar with renovations in previous houses and knowing what to expect in both inconvenience and rewards.

In any case, the standard rules for all home purchases apply to fixer-uppers – and often more so. Getting a thorough home inspection, for instance, is crucial, to learn all you need to about homes whose history and condition can be unknown (or in some cases undisclosed). But once again remember that turning up problems can also identify economic breaks; since the purchase price for an "as is" home will be lower, so will related costs such as transfer taxes, and property taxes might be too.

If the fixer-upper is just your kind of challenge, then you have the chance to shape your space to just your type of taste – and that of potential future residents. The fix-up can enhance the possibility of appreciating the home's resale value. As with any home, you'll want to think carefully about which improvements will make up their cost, but with a fixer-upper the benefits can be reaped not just from the house but its location – older neighborhoods can be preferred by many buyers to newer housing developments, so getting a like-new home you prepared in a more old-fashioned area can be a strong attraction.

One resource you may want in your fix-up tool kit is the services of a qualified real estate professional. We often have fixer-uppers we'd love to find the right buyer for, and can call you about as soon as they're available. If you're ready for the challenges and rewards, your neighborhood agent may be ready to "fix you up" with your future dream house.

Cheryl Scott-Daniels, Broker/Owner of ERA Select Homes in Westport has earned the prestigious Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE) designation, having completed extensive training in foreclosure avoidance and short sales. This is invaluable expertise to offer at a time when our country is ravaged by “distressed” homes in the foreclosure process.


Short sales allow the cash-strapped seller to repay the mortgage at the price that the home sells for, even though it is lower than what is owed on the property. As a CDPE, Scott-Daniels can confidently guide sellers through a short sale process to avoid foreclosure, which can be devastating to homeowners. In fact, on average, CDPEs are able to keep homeowners in their home more than twice as often as losing properties to foreclosure. More and more lenders are willing to consider short sales because they are much less costly than foreclosures.

In Fairfield County, more than 3,400 homes are currently in pre-foreclosure. It is happening in all price ranges. Local experts say that even high-priced homes are not immune.


“This CDPE designation is invaluable as I work with sellers and lenders on complicated short sales and foreclosures”, said Scott-Daniels. “It is so rewarding when I am able to help sellers save their homes from foreclosure.”


Alex Charfen, founder of the Distressed Property Institute in Boca Raton, Fla., said that REALTORS® such as Cheryl Scott-Daniels with the CDPE designation have valuable training in short sales that can offer the homeowner much better alternatives to foreclosure, which virtually destroys the credit rating. These experts also may better understand market conditions and can help sellers through the emotional experience, he said.

"Obtaining this certification is just another reflection of Cheryl Scott-Daniel’s commitment to providing exceptional service to her clients," said Gene Amsel, Business Consultant, ERA Franchise Systems LLC.  “CDPE training teaches sales associates to be properly prepared, up to speed on the latest trends and have the skills necessary to be successful in this market.”


For more information about CDPE designation or to reach Cheryl Scott-Daniels, call at 203-341-0100




google map to real pro systemsThe American family is ever-changing, and its primary space, the home, has always changed with it. The present day is no exception: The largest segment of the American public, the baby boom generation, is entering retirement age in high numbers, and confronting "empty nests" when the kids go off to college or marry and move out permanently, presenting the challenge of what to do with the sudden extra space (since most "boomers" prefer to "age in place" rather than leave their long-time homes).

There is also the perennial family responsibility of caring for older relatives as their health needs require them to move back in with their grown children and in-laws. Extended families (including grandparents raising their grandchildren) have also become more commonplace. Situations like these can pose the challenge not of how to deal with extra space, but how best to add more.

Changes which only affect the inside of a house can be the simpler type, but are not necessarily any easier a decision. However, there are a number of inviting options to consider. Mature baby boomers who are ready to enjoy the fruits of a lifetime of work and have the funds to invest in doing so, are converting the extra space vacated by the kids into everything from "wine cellars" to libraries.

Home offices are popular, and tap into a growing trend. They come in handy for organization and privacy, whether you've got a business or merely need a space to keep your bills and personal files straight.

Hobbies are big with boomers, so a hobby room for sewing and other crafts makes sense. A small home gym, with treadmill, weights and a TV to pass the time, is also a good investment for both fun and health.

On the other hand, many of today's homeowners are opting to add that extra room – or rooms – if they don't already have one, for entertaining guests, housing returning relatives, or setting up a separate but accessible space for an elderly parent or in-law. Before you do this, there are a number of questions to address, including what local zoning ordinances will allow for additions, and how the aesthetics and size of the addition will affect resale value.

There are also family matters to make sure everyone understands. While some younger families move grandma in with them, some older ones sell the house to a son or daughter and move into the addition themselves. In all such situations, it's important to agree beforehand who owns what part of the house, whether rent will be charged, who will pay for any extra utility or property-tax costs, and other sensitive issues that don't have to become divisive ones.

The right real estate professional can give expert guidance. Programs like the SRES ("Seniors Real Estate Specialist") designation available to ERA Real Estate professionals are one guarantee of expertise in senior concerns, and programs like ERA® Select Services are one great way of finding reliable contractors and possible discounts. Consult with your local real estate office, and no matter how your house may change, it will remain a place where everyone feels at home.

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Contact Information

Photo of Cheryl Scott-Daniels  Real Estate
Cheryl Scott-Daniels
CSD Select Homes
991 Post Rd East
Westport CT 06880
Fax: 866-806-6909