Sometimes the upgrades on a house make it worthwhile. This is especially true when the housing market is down.
When the price per square foot is down, you're going to get more bang for your buck on a repo. I just saw a house with a $60K upgraded kitchen and a $5K in flooring, and another couple thousand in crown molding, sell for $50K more than a similar house down the street that had been a rental. I'm a handy guy, but kitchen remodels are notoriously laborious. They take a lot of time and usually a lot of money. The house was basically on sale with a $17,000 discount. The other house also had rental grade lighting and bathroom fixtures. The difference in the houses had everything to do with how much the house was cared for and loved by the owners.
The difference in price, works out to about $300/month with today's interest rates. Sure, not everyone can afford the difference, and some people don't want the extra debt. When the market recovers, the house will be worth that much more, and be that much more attractive to a buyer.
There is money to be made when the parts are worth more than the whole. This is similar in concept to the corporate pirates of the 1980's did, and what salvage yards do on a regular basis. Find something where the pieces are worth more than the whole. Obviously, you're not going to split up the house. But, if you have similar house, with dissimilar prices, it might be worthwhile to estimate how much the upgrades would cost if you plan to make them in the future.
1 year ago