When your house no longer suits you, you can move or remodel. Find out which big change is the right investment of your housing dollars.
Just about everything else—remodeling costs, the hassle of living in a construction zone, or the ability to live happily without one more bathroom—is a personal preference. After all, your home isn’t just your largest investment; it’s also the place where your family lives.
In today’s market, outdated homes are not selling well. Buyers lack money, time and DIY talents, so homes have to be in tip-top shape to compete. So, if you plan to put our home on the market, you will have to make improvements regardless. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that someone will come along and like your outdated home; after all, if you don’t like it, who else will?
To make the right move-or-remodel decision, you have to know:
Then add the remodeling costs to the value of your home. If the number you get is more than 10% above the average value of homes in your neighborhood, you’re over-improving and probably won’t be able to sell for what you put into the remodel.
Here’s why: No one wants to buy the most expensive home on the block (your home) if they can spend the same money to get a similar home on a block of higher-priced homes. Would you pay $200,000 to live on a block where all the other homes are valued at $100,000? We hope not.
Make home improvements that are typical for the neighborhood. Don’t put granite countertops in a trailer, and don’t put laminate countertops in an executive home. Your tour of open houses gives you a chance to verify that your planned remodel isn’t an over- or under-improvement for the neighborhood.
Want to keep your kids in the same school district, but can’t find or afford a bigger, better house? Love the neighbors? Have an easy commute to work? Stay put. If you’ve soured on the traffic, the neighborhood’s crime rate, or the nosy neighbors, move on.
If your remodeling plans include increasing the overall size of your home, the size of your lot may be the deciding factor in whether to move or remodel. If you live in a 1,500 sq. ft. ranch on a 3,000 sq. ft. lot, you might be able to add a second story to turn it into a 3,000 sq. ft. two-story, but you’re not likely to add 1,500 sq. ft. at ground level. And if you have a septic tank and well, the location of those will limit how and where you add onto your home (or cost you a bundle to move).
Consider these moving costs: sale costs for your existing home, shipping your household goods, buying window treatments and possibly furniture for the new house, costs to fix up your existing home before sale, higher utility costs (if your next house is bigger), insurance cost differences, and property taxes.