Buyers August 11, 2023

Turnkey vs. Fixer-Upper: Pros and Cons

The beauty of real estate is that different properties satisfy different needs. Although single-family homes are great for putting down roots, that may not be your motivation for purchasing your next home. If you’re looking to buy a property with the intent of renting it, both turnkey and fixer-upper listings will cross your path during your home search. The main difference between the two is the condition of the property when you buy it. The right one for you depends on your needs as a homeowner and your goals as a landlord.

What is a turnkey property?

Turnkey properties are move-in ready from day one, which means they’re ready for you to rent them out immediately. Whether it’s a new construction home or a recently remodeled listing, these properties are in tip-top shape when they hit the market. Companies that specialize in renovating and selling these properties may also offer property management services, which may appeal to you if you’re looking for a more hands-off approach to managing your investment property.

What does fixer-upper mean in real estate?

Compared to turnkey listings, fixer-uppers are on the opposite end of the investment property spectrum. Buying a fixer-upper means you’re purchasing a home that needs repairs, remodeling, and some major TLC before it’s ready to rent out. These properties are diamonds in the rough; you’re betting on your ability to make high ROI home upgrades that will attract future renters and put money in your pocket.


As an example of turnkey vs. fixer-upper homes, a heterosexual Caucasian couple are remodeling their fixer-upper property. They are re-painting the interior to prepare the property for renters.

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: StefaNikolic

Turnkey vs. Fixer-Upper: Pros and Cons

Turnkey Pros

Because they are move-in ready, turnkey listings have the potential to generate cash flow right away. Without any pending renovations in your way, you can open up the property to renters as soon as you take possession. They’re primed and ready to place in the hands of a property management company, which means you’ll get passive income without having to deal with day-to-day operational tasks.  You can also ask the listing agent for permission to use their photos, which can help your rental stand out amongst the competition in your area.

Turnkey Cons

So, what’s the catch? These benefits all come at a cost; turnkey properties typically cost more than fixer-uppers. You’ll pay a premium for the pristine condition and the buttoned-up appearance of these properties, so it’s important to have a strategy to save money for your home purchase. Also, handing off property management duties to a third party means you’ll have less control over the renting process.

Fixer-Upper Pros

Searching for homes in less-than-pristine condition can give you a leg up as a buyer. Fixer-upper homes tend to have less competition from buyers than turnkey properties, since not everyone is willing to take on a major remodeling project. Talk to your agent about how to make the best offer. Given their lessened condition, you can oftentimes get a great deal on these homes with the right strategy. And the best part is, your remodeling efforts will increase the home’s value over time. The more effort you put in, the more the property will be worth, which means higher ROI potential.

Fixer-Upper Cons

Here’s the downside with fixer-uppers: tapping into their potential requires pouring money into the property. Exactly how much you can expect to spend on a fixer-upper varies by location, the size of the home, and the scope of repairs and renovations needed. Tackling some remodeling projects DIY can save you money, but if certain projects require more skilled hands, it may be best to hire a professional. And for all your planning, it’s impossible to predict the future. Projects may go over budget, material costs may rise, and the market may look completely different when you’re ready to rent out your property than it did when you bought it.

Connect with me and I can help you determine which property type is right for you.