Should we stay or should we go?

Many people ask us, “Should we remodel or should we move?”  Our answer is always, “Well, that depends.” There is no doubt that remodeling is a larger out-of-pocket expense than buying an existing home that doesn’t need remodeling or even building new. So it’s a good question and the answer depends on many factors. Here are a few questions to guide your decision-making process:

1. How long do you plan to stay in your house?

You will recoup less of your remodeling investment if you plan to move within two years. Here is a good resource for the return on investment for home remodeling projects.

2. What are you trying to achieve?

It’s important to consider whether you can achieve the aesthetic and functional results you’re looking for in your current home. There are some limiting factors for remodeling projects—including lot dimensions and your home’s “bones” or the foundation, heating, plumbing and electrical systems—that are more difficult to overcome no matter how creative and professional your contractor is.

3. How much do you love your home?

Homeowners with a strong attachment to their current homes should factor that into the decision-making process. Your home can be the keeper of many pleasant memories that are difficult to replace.

4. How much do you value your lot?

Often our clients’ motivation to not relocate is as much about their lot as it is about their house. You may not be able to replicate a corner lot with an ancient shade tree in the backyard even if you find a house with that perfect kitchen.

5. How much do you love your neighborhood?

A desire to remain in a neighborhood is also a frequent motivating factor for remodeling. There is significant value in having neighbors you like or even just know—unfortunately, something that is missing in many of today’s neighborhoods. You may also value the neighborhood’s amenities or its proximity to schools and stores.

6. What is your remodeling budget?

If the amount you can spend is less than the cost of moving, then choosing to remodel rather than move is a no-brainer. Even a modest remodeling budget can begin to make your home more current and comfortable.

7. Where does your home’s value fall in your neighborhood?

If you own the most expensive home in the neighborhood, the return on your remodeling investment will be lower. However, if you plan to stay in your home for an extended period of time, your decision may be more about maximizing enjoyment than finances.

8. How likely are you to find a home that you wouldn’t remodel?

It is not uncommon for us to have a client decide to move and then call us a year later for a remodeling project on the new home. Because homes are so personal, it is very difficult to find one that is just right. If you’ve already invested in a larger mortgage, it may be more difficult to afford a remodel.

9. How much do kids factor into your decision?

The quality of nearby schools is a major consideration for most families with school-age kids and may even be the reason you bought in your current neighborhood. Disrupting the children’s school and social lives may be another key consideration. Even if you have not made close friends on your block, the kids usually have made connections in the neighborhood and at school.

Deciding whether to move or remodel is complicated because it involves so many considerations outside of just the wood, wiring and windows that make up the building that houses your life. Remember that both remodeling and moving can be fun and exciting or stressful and harrowing. Taking the time up front to evaluate all of the factors will help you weather the experience, come what may.

The next blog will share trends in home valuations within a few College Station and Bryan neighborhoods to provide more context for your home renovation decision-making process.