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August 11, 2023

Pros and Cons of Buying a Fixer-Upper in Cuyahoga County, Ohio

As a real estate investor, choosing between purchasing a turn-key property or a fixer-upper can be a challenge. Each option comes with its unique set of pros and cons, requiring a careful analysis of your investment strategy. In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, fixer-uppers are gaining popularity due to their potential for high ROI. Let’s explore the benefits and drawbacks of purchasing a fixer-upper in this market.


In Cuyahoga County, as of 2023, the median home price hovers around $175,000, which aligns with the region’s economic and demographic trends. However, the cost of a fixer-upper in the same region is often considerably less, making it a more affordable entry point for real estate investors.

To quantify this, consider that fixer-upper properties in the county can often be found listed at 20-40% less than the median price for move-in-ready homes, depending on the extent of work needed. So, an investor may be able to acquire a fixer-upper for anywhere between $105,000 and $140,000, instead of paying the median price of $175,000 for a home ready for occupation. This significant reduction in initial outlay makes a compelling case for the affordability of fixer-uppers as an investment.

However, affordability doesn’t just stop at the purchase price. With a fixer-upper, investors also have the opportunity to add substantial value to the property through targeted renovations and improvements. In the end, a well-renovated property can sell for much higher than the county’s median home price, contributing to a higher return on investment.

Remember, while fixer-uppers can provide an affordable entry point into real estate investment in Cuyahoga County, they also come with renovation costs, which need to be factored into your overall budget. It’s vital to carry out a thorough cost-benefit analysis to ensure your fixer-upper project will be profitable in the end.

High ROI

The return on investment for a fixer-upper can vary widely based on several factors including the initial purchase price, renovation costs, the quality of the renovations, and the final sale price. However, let’s use an illustrative example to showcase the potential ROI.

Let’s assume you purchase a fixer-upper for $120,000, which is considerably below the Cuyahoga County median home price. After an in-depth assessment, you estimate that the property will require around $30,000 in renovations to bring it up to a comparable standard as other homes in the area. So, your total investment would be $150,000.

Upon completion of the renovation, if you were to sell the property at a price of $200,000, which is in line with or slightly above the median home price in the area for a renovated home, your gross profit before any selling or holding costs would be $50,000.

To calculate ROI, you would use the formula (Final sale price – Total investment) / Total investment * 100. Plugging in these numbers, your ROI would be approximately 33%.

((200,000 – 150,000) / 150,000) * 100 = 33%

This is a significant return, particularly when compared to other types of investments. However, it’s crucial to remember that the real estate market can be unpredictable, and your actual ROI will depend on various factors, including market trends at the time of sale.

Also, bear in mind that while this illustrative example can give a general idea about potential returns, it doesn’t account for other costs an investor may encounter, such as property taxes during the holding period, interest on any borrowed money, and selling costs like realtor commissions and closing costs. All these factors should be included in a comprehensive ROI calculation.

Investing in fixer-uppers in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, can provide considerable potential for profit, but it also requires careful planning, a keen understanding of the market, and an ability to effectively manage renovation projects. Always do thorough due diligence before embarking on such an investment.

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

The unique value proposition (USP) of a property can significantly influence its appeal to potential buyers. A fixer-upper, once renovated, can possess certain unique qualities that distinguish it from other properties on the market, adding to its overall value and attractiveness.

Customization and Modern Updates: One of the strongest USPs of a renovated fixer-upper is the ability to introduce modern updates and customizations that meet the demands of today’s homebuyers. For instance, an investor can transform an outdated kitchen into a contemporary, chef-inspired space or convert an unused basement into a home office — a popular feature given the rise of remote work. These specific updates can make the property more appealing to potential buyers who value these modern amenities.

Quality Craftsmanship: If you invest in high-quality renovations and pay attention to detail, your property can stand out for its superior craftsmanship. This attention to detail can be a significant USP, especially in a market where hastily-flipped homes might lack this level of quality.

Location Enhancement: Sometimes, the location of a fixer-upper can contribute to its USP. For example, a property in a desirable, up-and-coming neighborhood of Cuyahoga County that has been fully renovated can be especially attractive to buyers. It combines the appeal of a great location with the convenience of a move-in-ready, modern home.

Historical Charm with Modern Comfort: If your fixer-upper is a historic property, you can preserve certain vintage features during the renovation. The blend of old-world charm and modern comfort can create a unique home that stands out in the market.

Energy Efficiency: During renovations, you have the opportunity to install energy-efficient appliances, insulation, windows, and HVAC systems. This not only decreases the home’s ecological footprint but can also attract environmentally-conscious buyers and potentially save them money on utilities in the long run.

Cons of Buying a Fixer-Upper in Cuyahoga County, Ohio

Unexpected Costs

While fixer-uppers are initially cheaper, they can come with unexpected renovation costs. Structural issues, plumbing or electrical problems, or unforeseen damage can add to your renovation budget, impacting your overall ROI.

Roof Repairs or Replacement: The cost of roof repairs can vary widely based on the extent of damage, the size of the roof, and the materials used. Simple repairs may range from $300 to $1,000, while a complete roof replacement can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 or more.

Plumbing: Plumbing issues are another common unexpected cost. Simple repairs may be relatively inexpensive, but if there is a need to replace the entire plumbing system, costs can skyrocket to between $2,000 and $15,000 depending on the size of the property and the complexity of the work.

Electrical System: Rewiring a house is a substantial job that can cost between $8,000 to $15,000 or more for a complete overhaul. Smaller electrical repairs can run from $150 to $800.

Structural Issues: Problems like foundation cracks or settling, termite damage, or water damage can be some of the most expensive to fix. The cost to repair a foundation, for example, can range from $1,800 to $6,000, but major repairs can easily exceed $10,000.

HVAC System: The cost of replacing an HVAC system can range from $5,000 to $10,000.

Mold Remediation: If mold is found in the property, remediation costs can range from $500 to $6,000 depending on the extent of the mold. In severe cases, it can even reach up to $20,000.

Permit Fees: Depending on the scope of your renovations, you may need to secure permits from the local Cuyahoga County government. Fees for these permits vary based on the type and extent of work being done.

Time Investment

Flipping a house involves several stages, each with its own timeframe. These stages include finding and purchasing the property, planning and executing renovations, and then selling the house.

  1. Finding and Purchasing the Property: This stage can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on market conditions and your specific criteria. It involves identifying suitable fixer-uppers, conducting inspections, negotiating the price, and finally closing the deal.
  2. Planning and Executing Renovations: The renovation phase is typically the most time-consuming. For a minor remodel, this might take anywhere from one to three months. However, for a major remodel or a house that needs extensive repairs, this could stretch to six months or more. Remember, this timeframe can be extended due to unexpected issues or delays such as contractor schedules, permit approval delays, or supply chain interruptions.
  3. Selling the House: Once the renovations are complete, you’ll need to sell the property. This includes staging the house, listing it on the market, negotiating with potential buyers, and closing the sale. The length of this stage can vary greatly depending on the real estate market conditions. In a hot seller’s market, a house might sell within a few weeks, but in a cooler buyer’s market, it could take several months.

In general, the entire process of flipping a house — from purchase to sale — typically takes anywhere from six months to a year, though it can be shorter or longer depending on various factors.

It’s important to note that during this time, as an investor, you’ll need to dedicate significant time to managing the project. This includes coordinating with contractors, making decisions about the renovations, dealing with any issues that arise, and marketing and selling the property. If you’re not prepared to dedicate this time, or if you’re juggling several flips at once, you may want to consider hiring a project manager to oversee the work.

Market Volatility

Real estate markets are subject to fluctuations. If the market cools down when you’re ready to sell your renovated house in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, it might affect the returns you had hoped for.

Property values fluctuate due to changes in the economy, the local job market, and various other factors. For example, during an economic downturn, property values may decline, potentially affecting the profit from a flip. Conversely, in a strong economy, increased housing demand can drive up property values, which may increase the return on investment.

Interest rates play a significant role if you’re using a mortgage to finance your investment. An increase in interest rates can lead to higher borrowing costs and potentially lower profits. Conversely, lower interest rates can reduce your costs and potentially increase your return on investment.

The speed at which you can sell a renovated property, and the price at which you can sell it, depends greatly on market demand. In a hot housing market, there may be many buyers, which can result in quick sales and possibly higher prices. However, in a slower market, it might take longer to sell a property. This can lead to increased holding costs and potentially lower your return on investment.

Local factors like employment rates, population growth, and infrastructure developments can greatly influence market conditions. Therefore, in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, or any other location, it’s essential to thoroughly research the local market before investing in a fixer-upper.

Furthermore, due to the inherent uncertainty associated with market volatility, it’s always wise to build a cushion into your budget. This can help absorb unexpected costs or changes in the market that could affect the final sale price or the cost of renovations.


Investing in a fixer-upper property in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, in cities such as Parma, Parma Heights, Brecksville, Broadview Heights, and North Olmsted, has its unique pros and cons.

From an affordability standpoint, fixer-uppers in Cuyahoga County, which has an average home price of around $193,000 as of 2023, can be a more budget-friendly investment option. Purchasing these properties below the market value can lead to significant cost savings upfront, and therefore potentially higher returns.

The return on investment can be substantial. After purchasing a property below market price, renovating it, and selling it at a higher price, investors can see a return on investment ranging from 10% to 30% or more. This figure varies depending on several factors, including the purchase price, cost of renovations, and the final sale price.

Furthermore, a renovated fixer-upper in these areas can offer a unique value proposition. Through customization and modern updates, quality craftsmanship, location enhancement, the integration of historical charm with modern comfort, and a focus on energy efficiency, the property can stand out in the market.

However, fixer-uppers also come with potential challenges, including unexpected costs and time investment. Major expenses such as roof repairs or replacement, plumbing and electrical system overhauls, structural repairs, HVAC system replacement, and mold remediation can significantly add to the renovation budget. It’s vital to factor these potential costs into your investment plan.

As for the time investment, the process of flipping a house, from purchase to sale, typically takes anywhere from six months to a year, but it can be shorter or longer depending on various factors. This timeline involves identifying and purchasing suitable properties, carrying out renovations, and finally selling the renovated home.

Finally, market volatility is a significant factor. Fluctuations in property values, interest rates, and market demand can have a profound impact on your investment. Even within Cuyahoga County, market conditions can vary significantly from one city to another, such as between Parma Heights and Brecksville, for example. It’s crucial to stay abreast of these changes and adjust your investment strategy accordingly.

In conclusion, while buying a fixer-upper in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, has its unique advantages, including affordability and the potential for a high return on investment, it’s not without challenges. A successful investment requires careful planning, a thorough understanding of the local market in cities like Parma, Parma Heights, Brecksville, Broadview Heights, and North Olmsted, and a keen eye on potential unexpected costs and market volatility.

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