After living in one home for a while, many families find it no longer meets their needs. They may need more space, or a different layout. They might want a bigger kitchen or updated bathrooms. Often the best solution is to move to a new house – but sometimes it makes better sense to stay put and upgrade the familiar old homestead.
In deciding between relocating and remodeling, it’s important to weigh both hard numbers and those all-important emotional factors.
Some people really do love where they live. They have great neighbors; their children have close friends nearby; the address is convenient to school, church, shopping or work. Those factors are strong arguments for improving the house they have, rather than finding another.
On the other hand, some families, or their lifestyles, have simply outgrown their neighborhoods. Sometimes converting that starter home into an idealized dream house would put a property out of synch with its surroundings. That can mean it wouldn’t ever command a resale price high enough to recoup the cost of the upgrades. Remember, a home must be appraised for at least the purchase price, or the buyer will have challenges getting a mortgage.
When weighing the pros and cons, think about how the improvements your home needs would fit into the neighborhood. If remodeling would put it out of the price range for comparable properties, then relocating is likely the better idea. That is certainly true if you expect, for career or family reasons, to sell in a few years.
Even so, if you really, truly love your home and don’t want to leave, you should be happy while you’re there. And if you plan to stay for several years, the typical increase in home prices means you should be able to recoup more of what you spent than if you wanted to sell right away.
Of course, the house isn’t the only consideration. Do the yard and the location meet your needs? How about next year, or 10 years from now? While none of us have a crystal ball, we have an idea of where we’d like to be and what we’d like to be doing, and how our families or careers might develop.
If you decide a renovation is what you want, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of finding a good general contractor, with experience in remodeling, to help you plan and manage the project. It is way too easy for homeowners to underestimate how much a renovation will cost, which may lead to a busted budget, or being forced to cut corners.
A qualified contractor can offer vital advice on matters that may not be obvious. For example: the owner of an older house may want to open up the floor plan by removing walls between the kitchen, living room and dining area. That might be a fairly simple job. But it might also involve load-bearing walls, heating and air conditioning equipment, or other costly structural issues. A contractor’s advice will help you make an informed, intelligent decision about whether your ideas are practical.
To find the right contractor, ask around. Get referrals from your Realtor or people who have had a positive experience with their own projects. It’s always OK to ask for references so you know what to expect about a contractor’s timing, responsiveness and quality of work. The cheapest bid might not be the best deal, and might end up costing you more in the end.
Evaluating cost versus value, and the effect on a sale, is where a real estate professional will be able to help you. A Realtor can advise you on which factors are most important for your neighborhood.
One last, very important thing to think about if you’re leaning toward a renovation: A you comfortable with the idea of living in chaos during a remodeling? Even the smoothest projects will cause some disruption of your lifestyle. Noise, dust and lack of privacy are entirely predictable issues. If you’re determined to tackle a project, but dread the disruption, think about moving out for the two or three months the job might take. A bonus: If you’re not there, the contractor doesn’t have to work around you and the work almost always gets done faster.
Here in Wilmington, we’re fortunate to have an abundant supply of lovely short-term rental properties available. If you can schedule your renovation during the low-demand “off season” for beach rentals, it won’t be hard to find a reasonable monthly rate on a convenient temporary home.
When you’re weighing all the pros and cons of remodeling versus moving, there’s no more important move than to consult with a real estate agent who knows your neighborhood, and can help guide you with your decision.
Michelle Clark is a broker with Intracoastal Realty, based at the Wrightsville Beach office. She is an Accredited Luxury Home Specialist, ALHS and also a Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource. Whether you are buying, selling, or investing, know that Michelle and her team will go the extra mile for you. To learn more about Michelle and Intracoastal, go to www.intracoastalrealty.com. You may contact Michelle at [email protected] or 910-367-9767. Like Michelle’s team on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MichelleClarkTeam.
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