August 19, 2015

Can You Buy Fixer Upper Houses in Ecuador? Cuenca Ecuador Real Estate

A Reader asks: Does Ecuador have fixer-uppers like they do in the states? 

Yes and No.

There are fixer-upper homes that you can buy in Ecuador, however, they don’t stay on the market very long and so when you see one with a good price that needs repaired, updated and remodeled you need to act fast. 

There are several reasons why you need to act fast.  Ecuador is a country with millions of people that cannot afford the newer priced homes and when a fixer comes up on the market, it will be considered by many of the local people. Not only that, but many of the fixers will not even get a chance to be listed because everyone in the neighborhood finds out about it; neighbors tell their neighbors who tell their neighbors and poof, someone hears about a good deal and buys it.
 

Many of the homes in Ecuador are in need of remodeling and updating and are not considered a fixer to the local folks. Here’s what we often see in the older Cuenca housing market: outdated bathroom shower fixtures, toilets, sinks, etc. Surprisingly, toilets, tubs and pedestal sinks are not that expensive in Ecuador; perhaps they’re manufactured here. Someone that knows can comment below.

Here's a fixer house that I found in Ballenita, Ecuador; they even reduced the price from $39,500 to $32,000. However, the ad is on Craigslist and it is in English that means they are advertising to the gringo market. If you do your research, you're bound to find better deals from Ecuadorians.
Fixer upper home located in Ballenita, Ecuador

And here's another one I found in Cuenca, Ecuador; 2/1 small home asking $25K. So, if you are a handy person there are some deals out there. And remember, these are ASKING prices.
Cuenca, Ecuador Fixer home asking $25,000
I found the Cuenca fixer above on two different websites, both in English. If they'd list this home in Spanish and on Ecuadorian "for sell" websites they'd probably get a local Ecuadorian to make them an offer.

What's the Difference Between an Older Home and a Fixer?

The typical older home in Cuenca Ecuador (1970’s, to late 1990’s) is much like a fixer upper home; it may need updated windows and screens and light fixtures throughout.  If it has hardwood floors, and many of the older homes in Cuenca do, they might need a good re-sanding, as well as the staircase hand rail and steps; sometimes the floor tile work is old and outdated and it will also need updated. Kitchen counters might have old-fashioned tile work you’ll want to update to granite; if there is a yard it will need landscaped; and most older homes need a fresh paint job inside and out.   
  
Funny though, they still ask quite a bit for a house that needs all this work. Also, bear in mind, they won’t tell you about these cosmetic and repair updates; often times they don’t realize the house needs updated.  You might have to point out all of the things that need done to the home and lower the price respectively to what needs repaired, updated and remodeled. Before we buy a home in the US that's what we do, so why wouldn't we negotiate all the repairs when buying an older home overseas?

Below is a photo of a home in Cuenca Ecuador with a  typical outdated kitchen. You may need to click on the photo to notice the counter tops are old tile work; kitchen cupboards are outdated; and look at the old ceramic tiles on the floors. Yet, they are asking $168,000 for this house. In MOST parts of the US you can get a new home or remolded home for this price that doesn't NEED any work done to it!
outdated kitchen counter tops, floor tiles and cabinets
You may want to know that older homes in Ecuador usually have small rooms, enclosed kitchens and insufficient lighting and airflow. Rarely do we see in the older homes an open floor plan and good natural lighting. Also, what is typically called a house in Cuenca Ecuador is really a town home; these homes rarely have any yard to speak of. If you want to buy a detached home with generous green space, you'll usually have to go outside the city for that.
 

We personally have walked thru many homes in Ecuador and we notice a lot of tiny master bedrooms; they are about as big as your walk-in closet. All of these things need to be taken into consideration when buying. It might be a better idea to just build your own home to the architectural designs you fancy.
 

Another thing we see a lot in Ecuador, especially the coastal areas is unfinished houses. You can usually pick these up for reasonable prices but you will still have a lot of work to do on the home. However, if the interior walls aren’t built yet, you can customize the room sizes and add your special architectural designs and finishes to the home that you wouldn’t have the chance to do with an already built older home.
This "still in the construction phase home" is $27k in Paute Ecuador
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We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!

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