Renovate or Move? 7 Tips to Help You Decide

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If you’re a homeowner, you already know that you have to keep your home updated. However, you might be wondering when the time is to forget the renovation and focus on finding another home instead. Here are some tips to help you decide.

1. Determine what needs to be changed.

Consider what you would need to change in your home. If your kitchen seems outdated, you might only need to upgrade to quality white cabinets. If your home appears dingy on the outside, you might only need to power wash it. Sit down and create a list of the things you want to change in your current home and then make a list of things you need to change. Examples of needs are:

  1. Structural issues: If you need to replace things in the foundation, the drywall or any other structural aspect of your home, then place it in the “needs” list. If your home isn’t structurally sound, you run the risk of hurting yourself and anyone else in your home. 
  2. Windows: Replacing windows is essential to keeping energy costs low as well as staying safe during severe weather. Cracked and leaky windows can lead to a litany of other problems later on if you don’t take care of them as soon as you can. 

  3. Asbestos, mold and lead: If your home has tested positive for asbestos, mold or lead in the paint, then you’ll want to place that in the “needs” category. These are extremely harmful to anyone breathing them in, so you should get that taken care of as soon as possible (even if you decide to sell your home and move somewhere else). 

2. Consider the real estate market.

Figuring out whether the market is stable enough for you to buy and sell is an important step in deciding whether to renovate or move. If it’s going to be too much of a financial risk to get into the real estate market right now, then the decision has been made for you. However, if the market seems relatively stable, then you should be okay to take the leap and place your home on the market. 

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3. Take your finances into account.

Take a long, hard look at your finances. Do you have 20 percent available to make a down payment on a new home loan? There’s no guarantee your current home will sell before you move into your new home, so you might even be paying two mortgages for a while before your current home is sold. Is that something you can afford right now? Remember, renovations don’t have to be done all at once. And even the renovations you choose can be done in pieces rather than all at one time, too. Installing new cabinets can happen before you replace the countertops, and you can start on your flooring before you tackle purchasing new furniture. 

4. Where do you work?

If you recently got a new job, that’s one consideration to make in deciding whether to renovate or move. If your new job requires you to work longer hours or more frequent shifts, then you might not have the time to do renovations, even if you hire contractors. And, if moving will save you money on commuting expenses, such as gas and car maintenance, then it might be a worthwhile option. However, if your income hasn’t changed much within the past year, moving might not be the best decision. You’ll have moving costs to worry about, plus the stress of selling your current home on top of looking for a new one. 

5. How many kids do you have?

The more kids you have, the bigger your house should be (ideally). If you’re feeling cramped in your current space, it’s probably time to move. Renovating and adding an additional space can be just as costly as putting a down payment on a bigger house. Save yourself the hassle and make the move instead of renovating. However, if your family hasn’t grown, or even if you’ve become empty nesters, it’s worthwhile to consider keeping your current home. Many couples choose to keep their homes throughout their later years because it’ll be the hub for all family activities later on. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Sunday dinners… you name it. There’s a reason all the kids will come back to the family home. Investing in your current space instead of moving will only build equity in it, and it’s something you can pass to your kids when you’re gone. 

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6. What upgrades are you looking for?

When you are deciding what you’d want your ideal home to have, consider whether those renovations are doable in your current home. Sometimes, the renovations will cost less than you think. In your kitchen, you can install RTA cabinets to save on construction costs, you can upgrade the thermostat to be a smart system on your own and a fresh coat of paint can go a long way in making your entire home feel brand new. If you want to completely gut your home and change the entire layout, you might be looking at the cost of a new home, so moving might be the better option if you want to have vaulted ceilings, an outdoor kitchen, and a state-of-the-art kitchen. 

7. Do you love your current neighborhood?

If the answer is “yes,” make sure you check the current real estate market before deciding to move. If the market is experiencing a housing shortage, there’s a chance that there won’t be many houses up for sale in your neighborhood. That would mean moving out of your perfectly desirable neighborhood and instead of giving your much-coveted home to someone else. If you can’t find a home in a better neighborhood, then now you’ve sacrificed something you enjoyed because you didn’t want to deal with renovations. However, if you currently don’t love your neighborhood and want to be in a different area, moving might just be the best option for you and your family.

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