Looking for a Fixer-Upper? Here’s Where To Find Them—and How Much You’ll Pay
In real estate, few types of homes stir up as much excitement mixed with a dash of fear as the so-called fixer-upper.
Buying a property in need of repairs might seem daunting to some, but others with a stomach for renovations and a diet of HGTV home makeover show might salivate over the prospect of toiling over a home to make it their own.
In a real estate market characterized by elevated interest rates and still-rising home prices, the allure of a cheap fixer-upper might be growing stronger for some buyers who see it as a financially savvy route to homeownership.
Long popular with home flippers and other investors, homes in need of some TLC might appeal more to first-time buyers facing one of the most challenging real estate markets in years.
Want to learn more about where these bargain homes might be hiding? We’ve pinpointed the cities where buyers will find the highest percentage of fixer-uppers.
Across the country, about one in 20 listings hint at some kind of need for work, repair, or renovation, according to our analysis (more on that below). Our findings revealed a scattered landscape of potential with a significant concentration in regions rich in history and character.
Purchasing a fixer-upper typically involves more than just installing shiny new appliances and adding a spa bathroom so the home can be resold for more money. Some homes may be in such disrepair that the path to getting them updated and habitable will require time, effort, and money. Yet they also present a higher home value and personal satisfaction for those who commit long-term.
“If you look at renovation, a lot of it was fueled by new appliances and making your kitchen look great,” says Leaf Home CEO Jon Bostock. “Now it’s more about either getting a [return on investment] or preventing further maintenance. You’re starting to see those decisions.”
A study by Leaf Home, a home improvement company, recently found that more than two-thirds of baby boomers “live in homes that are 30-plus years old, many of which have never undergone renovations or had major appliances replaced.”
This means the coming years could be primed for a generational housing shift where younger buyers might simply have no choice but to renovate.
To find the best places to snag a fixer-upper, the Realtor.com® data team dug into active home listing data for the week of Jan. 9–16, sifting through more than 700,000 listings nationwide to find words and phrases that indicate a fixer-upper home. Not surprisingly, many of these terms ignore the grueling work these properties might entail and instead take pains to play up the positives (e.g., “visionary’s dream,” “restore to glory,” and more). One could say it’s real estate salesmanship at its best.
We ranked the cities based on the highest percentage of listings that we identified as fixer-uppers. Only cities with at least 40,000 residents and a minimum of 20 fixer-upper listings were included. We also limited our list to just one city per state to ensure geographic diversity.
While not all homes that need renovation advertise that fact in their listing description, searching for keywords at least reveals where sellers and their listing agents see a benefit in telling potential buyers what they’re getting.
Regions with the most fixer-uppers
The Midwest leads the pack with 6.4% of listings hinting at renovation opportunities. This is closely followed by the Northeast, at 6.3%. The South and West trail behind, with 4.4% and 4.0% respectively.
Drilling down to the state level, Illinois is a hot spot with almost 1 in every 10 listings falling into our fixer-upper category. Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland follow, with around 1 in every 12 or 13 listings matching our search.
These findings reflect a regional trend that favors the Midwest and Northeast, where a blend of aging housing stock and architectural heritage offers abundant homes ready for renovation.
The top 10 cities with fixer-uppers for sale
Zooming in further, we found cities bursting with fixer-uppers across the U.S., from Connecticut to Colorado.
What links them, says Hannah Jones, a senior economic analyst at Realtor.com, is a general proximity to big cities. Several areas also had homes listed for far less than the national average.
“These are areas where you can still commute to an economic hub that can provide you with employment,” Jones points out. As such, they appeal to someone looking to buy and stay as well as investors looking for homes they can rent out.
Here’s our look at the U.S. cities with the most fixer-upper listings for sale and how much buyers will pay for them.
Median fixer-upper list price: $262,500*
Fixer-upper percentage of listings: 29.7%
Home to prestigious Yale University, New Haven isn’t just academically rich. It’s also a hub for those seeking to rejuvenate historical properties. Nearly one-third of all listings falling into our fixer-upper category.
Notably, it’s a leader in the Northeast for its high concentration of fixer-uppers, offering a unique blend of intellectual zest and housing renewal.
2. Gary, IN
Median fixer-upper list price: $60,000
Fixer-upper percentage of listings: 21.4%
In the early 1900s, Gary was a leader in U.S. steel production. But in the latter half of the century, it suffered industry and population declines. These days, the housing stock is aging, with more than 1 in every 5 listings revealing it needs some TLC.
With a median list price of around $60,000, the fixer-uppers we found offer a significant discount compared with the rest of the city’s also-affordable listings, which are priced about 80% higher.
Median fixer-upper list price: $45,000
Fixer-upper percentage of listings: 19.1%
Pine Bluff is a smaller city, to be sure, that has been losing residents. But for those eager to move in and make it their home, the city is relatively close to the state capital of Little Rock, about a 45-minute drive northwest.
It’s also home to the Arkansas Railroad Museum and the Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas.
4. Syracuse, NY
Median fixer-upper list price: $60,000
Fixer-upper percentage of listings: 18.2%
Syracuse combines educational prominence (it’s home to the namesake university) with a rich industrial heritage in upstate New York.
Like other industrial cities that experienced economic declines in the second half of the 20th century, there are many aging homes.
The homes we found that need work are priced at less than half of those that don’t advertise needing renovations.
5. Flint, MI
Median fixer-upper list price: $26,500
Fixer-upper percentage of listings: 16.4%
Flint, once at the forefront of the automotive industry, now presents opportunities for urban renewal. This is in part due to the tragic mismanagement of the city’s water supply, leading to dangerous levels of toxic chemicals. Environmental regulators say the problem is now largely resolved.
With that said, it’s the most affordable city for fixer-uppers, with homes priced at less than 10% of the national median.
6. Macon, GA
Median fixer-upper list price: $65,000
Fixer-upper percentage of listings: 15.8%
Macon, about 90 minutes southeast of Atlanta, has long offered a more affordable housing market. Buyers can find good deals on fixer-uppers in the city.
“Macon and Pine Bluff jump out to me,” Jones says. “These are two Southern areas that are still affordable, and nearby to large economic hubs.”
7. Newark, NJ
Median fixer-upper list price: $310,000
Fixer-upper percentage of listings: 14.9%
As New Jersey’s largest city, Newark offers a contrast to the smaller cities on this list. Its bustling urban environment and higher fixer-upper prices cater to those seeking the vibrancy and opportunities of metropolitan life.
It’s also a cheaper alternative to buying in New York City. Residents can catch a train to midtown Manhattan and be there in around 35 minutes.
Median fixer-upper list price: $87,950
Fixer-upper percentage of listings: 13.7%
The Gateway to the West offers more than just its famous arch and the headquarters for Anheuser-Busch.
The Rust Belt city also offers some ultra-affordable real estate, particularly for those who don’t mind putting in some work.
Median fixer-upper list price: $159,900
Fixer-upper percentage of listings: 12.3%
The City of Brotherly Love once served as the capital of the United States, and it serves up a mean cheesesteak.
And it offers the most absolute number of fixer-uppers, with nearly 500 properties matching our keyword search. This makes sense in a city of almost 1.6 million people.
10. Aurora, CO
Median fixer-upper list price: $519,000
Fixer-upper percentage of listings: 12.3%
Aurora makes up a big chunk of the Denver metro’s eastern half. It’s suburban but with quick access to the downtown core. Plus, it’s just a 30-minute drive to the Rockies.
The fixer-upper homes we’re spotlighting here are the most expensive on our list, which says something about this area’s massive price growth in recent years. Nonetheless, these fixer-upper homes come with about a 5% discount compared with the rest of the city’s listings.
* Prices are from Jan. 9–16 of this year on Realtor.com.