couple sitting on floor of house planning renovations

Buying A House As-Is And What That Can Mean For Buyers and Sellers

Holly Shuffett5-Minute Read
January 27, 2021

If the coronavirus lockdowns have taught us anything, it’s the joys of instant gratification: e-commerce and grocery delivery services are just a few of the industries to skyrocket in the past year or so.

And with a “new normal” in sight, the homebuying landscape could be on track to shift, too. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of buying an instantly gratifying as-is home.

What Does ‘As-Is’ Mean When Buying A Home?

Buying a house “as-is” is just what it sounds like: purchasing a home 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.

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 process or in the event of a foreclosure – 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.

It’s also important to keep in mind that as-is homes must still meet federal and state minimum disclosure standards, which will ensure your health and safety regardless of what other projects the property comes with.

What To Consider When Buying A House As-Is

Like any big decision, you’ll want to carefully consider whether or not buying an as-is home works best for you and your circumstances. Here are some as-is best practices to help guide you in determining whether or not buying an as-is home is right for you:

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 in the home and estimate the costs for repairs and renovations.

Unlike an appraisal, which is a requirement for the mortgage process, home inspections are simply for the homebuyer’s benefit – to better understand what work is yet to be accomplished.

Home inspections are also noteworthy because they can give you more support during 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 pursuing their as-is home any further.

Ask For A Home Warranty

A home warranty policy 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 you’re interested in only lists certain features as-is – particularly appliances – a home warranty policy could have you covered.

Home warranties are service contracts which cover your home’s appliances and other systems in 1 – 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.

And 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

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 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:

FHA Loans

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 void of any unsafe conditions at the time of purchase.

VA Loans

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

USDA loans are applicable to homes in certain rural or suburban areas. Common MPRs for a USDA loan 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. Open discussion with the home seller can reveal the additional costs you could be looking at or may lead to hiring a home inspector to get a more accurate estimate.

Additionally, you should consider the other costs and factors that may play a role in whether or not an as-is home is right for you: the cost of hiring a repairman or contractor, the time and money it takes for a home inspection, whether or not you simply have a flexible enough schedule to take on such home improvement projects.

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 real estate agent can be a huge help. If you’re on the fence about whether or not 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 real estate market and can certainly advise you on whether or not 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

Pros

  • As-is listings generally have low 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

Cons

  • As-is homes can have hidden costs in the form of major repairs or defects
  • Poor-condition as-is homes may disqualify you from certain loan requirements
  • In some states, disclosure agreements may allow the seller to put the responsibility of identifying issues with an as-is solely on the buyer

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 and real estate agents can give you better ideas about the condition of an as-is home and whether or not 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 homebuyer to responsible homeowner.

Get the right home loan for you.

Holly Shuffett

Holly Shuffett is a freelance writer for Rock Companies where she usually covers lifestyle and personal finance topics. Holly is also an Oakland University senior pursuing public relations and journalism, and she is interested in learning more about the entertainment and travel industries. In her free time, Holly serves as the secretary for Dance Marathon at OU, is a member of PRSSA, and tutors part time for Dictionary.com.