My Home No Longer Works: Can we Renovate or Should we move?

A couple, a white bearded man with tattoos and a curly-haired Black woman, smile as they sit and kneel on the floor dipping brushes in a tray of wall paint. The floor is covered in a tarp and a ladder is set up behind them.

Want more space in the living room? Are you longing for a bathroom separate from the kids? Is your kitchen driving you crazy? When your current home no longer serves your needs, it may be time to consider these two options: move or renovate.

To make a satisfying choice, consider these factors:

  • Physical Limitations. Take a look at your home’s layout and your lot. Are the changes you want possible? If you have your heart set on a diving pool, but you have a high water table, there’s not much you can do about that.
  • Municipal Regulations. Is there room for your dream addition? Many communities place restrictions on the land-to-building ratio. Look up your area’s municipal codes to see whether you can expand or if you must stay within the current footprint.
  • Neighborhood Value. Would a renovation push your home’s value above neighboring properties? That could cost you when it comes time to sell. If your plans will make your home significantly nicer than others on your street, think seriously about choosing a new home where other properties are in the same price range.
  • Your Budget. Know what you can both afford and are willing to spend, then put pencil to paper. If looking at a new home, factor in the cost of maintenance, taxes, moving costs, real estate commissions, and loan charges. If renovating, consider possible changes in property assessment, local permits, and insurance costs.
  • Return on Investment. If you are considering buying a new home, ask yourself how long you plan to live there. Will you be there long enough to recoup the closing and moving costs? If renovating, you are likely to get at least some of your investment back when you sell. Get a report on the returns on most common home improvements here. 

Now let’s look at the emotional side. A new home often means learning a new neighborhood, changing your work commute, adjusting to new schools, and meeting new friends. Living through a renovation can also be draining. Be prepared for dust and disorder — and the possibility that something unexpected that could raise the cost of the job.

For many homeowners interested in making a change, the first step may be to start small. Tom Becker, Chief Lending Officer at Hanscom Federal Credit Union, said to choose one room and make small changes. “First, declutter the room, and then repaint in a different color to add some excitement. Update the flooring and rearrange the furniture. This gives your room a completely new look at a very low cost. You can do most of the work yourself.”

Once the work is finished, pay attention to how you feel. Are you energized for a bigger project? Would you rather move than undertake a bigger home improvement project? Take time to evaluate all the costs — financial and emotional. With a little homework, you can make your home work.

Use Home Equity Wisely

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Hanscom Federal Credit Union
Hanscom Federal Credit Union

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