What Does Buying A House As Is Mean, And Should You Do It?
Holly Shuffett5-Minute Read
February 21, 2022
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*As of July 6, 2020, Rocket Mortgage is no longer accepting USDA loan applications.
If you’re on the hunt for a new home, you may come across a house listed “as is” by the seller. While the prospect of an “as is” home sale sounds tempting due to its lower price versus similar properties, there are a handful of factors that can determine whether an as is home is right for you.
Let’s discuss the pros and cons of buying a home as is.
What Does ‘As Is’ Mean When Buying A House?
Buying a house as is is just what it sounds like: purchasing a new home – or more likely, one that’s new to you – as it is, without any repairs, renovations or cosmetic touch-ups done by the seller.
Although buying an as-is house doesn’t guarantee you a home that’s in perfect condition, as is homes at least tend to reflect the potential TLC they might need in their price – which is typically less costly than standard listings. For example, homes sold in the event of foreclosure could be move-in ready, but there’s always a chance that they haven’t been well-maintained.
That’s not to say however, that buying an as is home immediately equates to getting a fixer-upper. In fact, some sellers may sell their home as is to speed along the selling – in which case, the house could present no issues altogether.
“As is” may not even apply to the entire house, either – some sellers might list particular features as is simply to avoid contracting out a project or having to deal with a minor repair before listing their home. Just be sure to clarify with the seller what aspects of the home are as is before entering negotiations.
Also keep in mind that as is homes must still meet federal and state minimum disclosure and inspection standards, which will ensure your health and safety regardless of what other projects the property comes with. Establishing a relationship with a lender early on by getting preapproved can help you ensure you’re staying on the right track to a home that’s affordable for you and compatible with your loan's requirements.
What To Consider When Buying A Home As Is
Like any big decision, you’ll want to carefully consider whether buying an as is home works best for you and your circumstances. Here are some as is best practices to help guide you in making your decision:
Get A Home Inspection
To understand the kind of financial commitment an as-is home may be before purchasing, it’s important to have a proper home inspection done. Your inspector will be able to pick out any major issues with the house and possibly estimate the costs for repairs and renovations. If the home is at risk of damage from wood destroying insects (WDIs), such as termites, add another layer of protection with a pest inspection.
Unlike an appraisal, which determines a home’s value and is a requirement for the mortgage process, home inspections are simply for the home buyer’s benefit. They’ll help you better understand what work is yet to be accomplished.
Home inspections are also noteworthy because they can give you more support during house price negotiations. And if the seller refuses a home inspection, this may clue you in on a larger issue that you need to uncover before continuing to pursue the home. For those further along in the process, consider including an inspection contingency in the purchase contract, which can allow buyers to back out if there are inspection problems.
Ask For A Home Warranty
A home warranty contract is also worth looking into, especially when the prospective home you’re looking at doesn’t require a head-to-toe makeover. If the as is home you’re interested in only lists certain features that way – particularly appliances – a home warranty policy could have you covered.
Home warranties are service contracts that cover your home’s appliances and other systems in 1- to 2-year terms. Home warranty policies are designed to provide you with the necessary repairs or even replacements for major home appliances or systems whenever they age out or stop working properly.
Although most policies won’t cover repairs that are already an issue, if you’re feeling unsure about the age or condition of a major appliance, a home warranty can cover you if anything goes wrong in the future.
Make Sure It Meets Minimum Property Requirements For Financing
If you’re a real estate investor, as is homes can seem incredibly enticing – low cost, with the ability to hone your house-flipping skills. In which case, purchasing an unlivable as is home probably wouldn’t scare you away, as your vision for the property’s future feels bright.
However, most mortgage lenders won’t feel the same way if your home fails to meet a certain level of livability. This livability standard is known as a minimum property requirement, or an MPR, and most government-backed loans will require an official appraisal that confirms the requirements are met.
Although minimum property requirements vary depending on your lender and loan type, let’s have a look at the MPRs for the most common loan types:
Most homes that need a total flip won’t be able to meet an FHA’s minimum property requirement standards. To qualify for an FHA loan, the as is house in question must be structurally sound and devoid of any unsafe conditions at the time of purchase.
Since VA loans are a government-backed perk for veterans and active-duty military workers, the criteria to meet their MPRs are stricter than other loan options. General MPRs for VA loans include safe drinking water, capable mechanical systems and a roof that’s in good structural condition.
USDA loans are applicable to homes in certain rural or suburban areas. Common MPRs for a USDA-eligible homes include having a sound foundation, an up-to-date electrical system and well-functioning HVAC and plumbing.
Calculate The Repair Costs
Another important factor to consider before purchasing an as is home is the cost of repairs. An open discussion with the home seller can reveal the additional costs you could be looking at or can lead to hiring a home inspector to get a more accurate estimate.
Additionally, you should consider the other cost factors before buying an as is home, such as the cost of hiring a repairman or contractor, the time and money it takes for a home inspection and whether you simply have a flexible enough schedule to take on such home improvement projects. Depending on your loan type, you’ll also need to factor in your down payment and closing costs.
Repair costs come with other strings, so you should know what you’re getting into before committing to an as is home.
Work With A Real Estate Agent
For most big real estate decisions, consulting with a trusted and experienced real estate agent or REALTOR® can be a huge help. If you’re on the fence about whether an as is home is right for you, a real estate professional can offer you specific guidance that caters to your budget and circumstance.
These experts have vast knowledge about your local housing market and can certainly help you make an offer on a house, negotiate with a seller and advise you on whether the investment in an as is home would be worthwhile for you and your family.
Pros And Cons Of Buying A Home Sold As Is
Let’s review some advantages and disadvantages before you buy a house as-is.
- As is listings generally have lower prices.
- The closing process is typically faster for a house sold as is.
- As is homes are great fixer-upper projects for real estate investors to flip and make a profit.
- As is homes can have hidden costs in the form of major repairs or defects.
- As is homes in poor condition may disqualify you from certain loan requirements.
- In some states, Seller’s Disclosure agreements may allow the seller to put the responsibility of identifying issues with an as is solely on the buyer.
The Bottom Line: Should You Buy A House As Is?
For some, buying an as is home can be a great way to save some money or take on an exciting housing project. But others might find themselves spending significantly more than they bargained for in repairs or at odds with their lender.
Be sure you understand as much as you can about an as is property before purchasing – how it can affect your loan options and the time and money repairs could cost you.
It’s always best to consult with experts – home inspectors, appraisers, real estate attorneys and real estate agents can give you better ideas about the condition of an as is home and whether it’d be a good investment.
But so long as you do your research and are confident in your decision, you’ll be well on your way from savvy home buyer to responsible homeowner.
Interested in buying a home as is? Get approved for a home loan online with Rocket Mortgage®.
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