Homeowners: Should You Move or Improve?

As homeowners, we each make our own personal mark on our homes. For some, this can simply mean moving in while for quite a few others, it involves more significant changes and upgrades. But there can come a time when we find there are things we once loved about our home that now don’t seem to fit our lifestyle. It is at this point where we find ourselves contemplating the dilemma of whether to move or improve.

Making that decision involves both monetary and emotional considerations. The financial aspect, though important, should be secondary because it can often impede your thinking about what you and your family really want and need in a home.

These days, many homeowners have come to the realization that it is best to ‘move with a purpose’, such as relocation for a job or to reduce a lengthy commute. But if the ‘should I stay or should I go’ conundrum involves style or size issues with your current residence, it could be worthwhile to invest in upgrading or remodeling your existing house to make it fit your needs.

Below are a key questions to consider whether remodeling or making a move is best for you.

  1. Do you like your neighborhood?

The answer to this question can hold the key to your decision. Take your house out of the equation for a second and consider: Do you like your neighborhood? Do you and your family have a lot of friends in the area? It is located close to things that matter to you, such as shopping, entertainment, services and good schools? If the neighborhood where you live is a great fit for you, it very well might make more sense to upgrade your current home that to move elsewhere as all of these things are difficult to replace. On the other hand, if the area where you live doesn’t appeal to you, then making a move to a borough better suited for your family might be the best option.

  1. What would it take to make your current home fit your needs?

What would you need to do to your current home to make it work for you and your family? It is something as simple as doing some minor upgrades or does it entail adding on a considerable amount of space? Maybe it means remodeling your kitchen, adding an extra bedroom or bathroom. Often, we jump to the conclusion that we need to move up but it is possible to create the ideal home from your current house with the right skills and creativity. If you are a DIYer, there are many projects you can take on yourself but there is also a diverse level of talent in the Silicon Valley that can take on projects large and small.

  1. How much space do you need?

Adding square footage to your home can be a fantastic and financially savvy investment. If you currently live in a 1,000 square foot bungalow but know that you’ll need double the space in the near future, adding on is still something to consider. You will have to consider the city/county in which you reside and their restrictions regarding adding square footage based on floor area ratio allowances. We recommend consulting with an architect for guidance; you may just be astounded at the possibilities your home has to offer.

  1. How is the resale market in your area?

Is your neighborhood and city attractive to potential homeowners? If you sold your current home, would you be able to afford to ‘buy up’ and get the home you want? Interest rates are still low, but then again, so is inventory, making it more difficult to find the perfect home, especially if you’re on a budget and are up against a multiple offer situation. A realtor can help you determine the market value for your home while a lender can assist you in determining what you can qualify for in a mortgage.

  1. What is the bottom line of moving VS improving?

There will be costs associated with both options and it is wise to get some real numbers to compare. Consult with an architect and/or general contractor for an idea of the costs involved in improving your home. Meeting with a realtor and mortgage lender to get specifics about your home’s market value, what loan you can qualify for as well as to understand the potential new mortgage payments and property tax liability. Also, there may be repairs and upgrades to the new home as well as your existing to ready it for sale. Once you have all the numbers, this can help shed some light on which route is best.

Still unsure if you should stay or go? Stay tuned for our in-depth series that will offer insights on various remodeling projects and their return on investment.