Buying a Dream Home Under Budget


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We all have it. That dream home, that perfect place to take off our slippers by the door, slip inside, and be home. However, for many prospective homebuyers, what is available on the market in their price range is far inferior to what they envision their “dream home” to be. So, if you can’t find your dream home within your budget, how about creating a dream home within your budget?

Anna Manuel was looking for a one-bedroom condo in Honolulu last year. She perused more than 60 condos within her $300,000 budget, but none offered the style or quality she was looking for. Reluctant to settle, Anna opted for a diamond in the rough—a one bedroom condo in "The Town House" on Victoria Street for $230,000 that she herself would transform into her dream home.

The small, cramped kitchen with outdated appliances was not only an eyesore, but failed to maximize the small space available.

Deciding on a complete overhaul, Anna tore down a wall, opening up the space to create a more user-friendly kitchen. A u-shaped design created a natural segue into the living area, while additional lighting and open shelves expanded and brightened the room. Bright white cabinets and gorgeous stainless steel appliances transformed the kitchen into a welcome space to work and entertain.

A bland living room with outdated carpet and exposed cinderblock walls painted a dismal picture.

With an eye for color and a passion for décor, Anna transformed the room into a bright, cozy oasis. Dark laminate floor replaced the antiquated carpet in both the living room and the bedroom, while pops of color and chevron stripes created dimension on the walls.

Old shower and floor tiles made the bathroom feel cheap, and bright vanity lights created a harsh look in the cramped area.

A new mirror and vanity provided a modern look and additional storage. Recessed ceiling lights softened the look of the bathroom, while a glass wall for the shower expanded the room, making the whole bathroom feel bigger.

Overall, Anna is in love with her new home and happy with her decision to renovate. “Though the process was hellish at times, buying a fixer-upper and renovating it allowed me to get exactly what I wanted. I bought for $230,000 and put $60,000 into it. Anything that I could have gotten at the $300,000 range would have been far inferior to what I have now.”

Though not for everyone, the decision to renovate can indeed pay off, as it did for Anna. Next time you view a home, see it not just for what it is, but for what it could be. Who knows, perhaps your dream home is merely hiding under a popcorn ceiling and forlorn old carpet.

Photos courtesy of Anna Manuel

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