What to Do if Your House is Falling Apart and You Can’t Afford to Repair It


Like many other things in life, homes require maintenance and repair as time passes. If you aren’t careful, it’s easy to fall behind on the fixes.

Home maintenance problems can be compounded if money is tight and you don’t have the financial resources to address unpleasant developments like rot, leaks, appliance breakdowns, and infestations.

So what are your options in these situations?

Help! My House is Falling Apart

When you’re a child, you’re typically unaware of the realities of the world around you. But as you grow up and become an adult, it becomes apparent that one of the uncomfortable certainties of life is that everything deteriorates over time.

Cars, childhood friendships, the environment, your joints, and, yes, your home gets worn and decrepit. Sometimes, you’re able to stay on top of a deteriorating residence; but it requires a ton of focus and attention to detail.

You can fall behind if you haven’t invested in preventive maintenance with regard to key systems such as plumbing, HVAC, appliances, roofing, and siding. If you’ve been unable to track needed fixes and repairs, it’s possible to feel as if you’re drowning in expensive maintenance problems and unanticipated upgrades.

In addition to being expensive, repairs such as these can be disruptive to your lifestyle. They transform your residence into a temporary construction zone and/or may require you to stay home from work and reorient your schedule to meet with necessary contacts.

In other words, it can be a frustrating mess.

Here’s What You Can Do

Every situation is unique, but let’s say your house is worth $500,000 and it needs roughly $100,000 worth of repairs and renovations to handle all the issues.

Most people don’t have $100,000 in cash lying around. And taking out a second mortgage or massive home equity line of credit (HELOC) could put you in a compromising financial position.

At the same time, you suspect that selling your house as-is will be nearly impossible. Very few buyers on the MLS are going to be interested in accepting so many projects as part of the sale. Plus, with home inspections appraisals, it’s unlikely your house will even make it to closing if it can’t clear certain critical hurdles.

Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. And though many homeowners are unaware of them, other options are available to you. Here are a few:

  1. Sell to a Cash Buyer

If you’re willing to sell your house and move on, your best option is to sell the home to a cash buyer. Specifically, look for a cash investor who buys homes for a living.

These people are typically less emotional and more analytical. They’ll crunch the numbers and make an offer based on what makes sense to them.

Such investors will almost always make you an offer. It becomes merely a matter of whether the potential deal meets your needs.

The best part about working with a cash buyer is that they’ll have no formal inspection and repair requests. Though cash buyers have the option to inspect the property, they almost never require you to fix something before you can sell. They’re experienced enough to factor this into their offer.

Another benefit is that you don’t have to wait the typical 45 to 60 days to bring the transaction to closing. The sale can usually happen in just 7 to 14 days. Thus, you can get out quickly before even more deterioration occurs.

  1. Pull Out a Loan

In certain situations, you may be able to apply for and get a loan to help you make necessary repairs and put your house back in order. If you have equity, a HELOC is an option.

But if there’s no equity to speak of, you’ll have to consider alternative options. One is the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). This allows you to refinance your mortgage in a situation where you have little (or no) equity and a high interest rate.

However, a HARP loan is not inherently easy to qualify for. You have to meet a number of essential eligibility requirements.

  1. Apply for a Grant

A third option is to apply to the Section 504 Home Repair Program, which helps ease the cost of home repairs in impoverished or rural communities. This program also involves a number of requirements.

For example, you must live in the house full-time, report a total household income that’s below 50 percent of the local average, and show that you’ve not been able to obtain credit elsewhere.

Putting it All Together

Don’t let the burden of a deteriorating home hold you back from living your best possible life. Though it’s admittedly not an ideal situation, there are plenty of alternative options available to you.

Whether you decide to sell your house to a cash buyer or pursue some alternative financing or assistance, better days are ahead!