Have you ever considered a major remodeling project? I’m talking about spending 50K, 100K, 200K or even more! Room additions, new kitchens, and whole-house remodels all fall under the major remodel category. I know you’ve thought about it!
I made my living for more than twenty years doing jobs like this and there was one question that was common to nearly every single customer… Remodel or Move?
Large projects are a big deal and many a homeowner has made the decision to just sell and buy a house that is already the way they want it. The idea of finding a contractor, arranging financing, and living in a construction site for months-on-end is enough to put fear into the hearts of the most die-hard home improvement buff.
On the other hand, there are questions about that whole “moving” process.
- Will the kids have to switch schools?
- What about the wonderful view we have? (or neighbors, lot, trees, etc.)
- How much can we get for our house?
- What can we buy for the money we’ll have to spend on the remodel?
- What comes first? Buy and then sell? Or sell and then buy?
- What about taxes?
Those are just the most common and first questions on both sides of the coin. Believe me, the process of deciding can be a real chore. I’ve been a part of it dozens and dozens of times and sometimes it really does make sense to move.
If you’re in that situation, asking yourself these questions and more, here is what I would suggest:
Visit realtor.com First
It’s really kind of amazing (to me, at least) how many of the Move or Remodel? questions can be answered for free in one place on realtor.com.
I’ll list them in the order I think most people would go…
1. How much is my house worth as it is now?
It’s pretty easy to get a feel for the value of your home using the tools on realtor.com.
Enter your address in the main search bar – Your house will come up and approximate values from a number of services will appear on the right side of the page.
Scroll down to the map and you’ll see an option for “Show Nearby Listings” – click that and you’ll see other listings in your neighborhood. This data is sourced from over 800 MLS services and represents 98 percent of all for-sale properties listed in the U.S!
Click on a few of those homes and get a feel for how they differ from your own.
After you get a feel for “asking” prices, check out what actual selling prices are by using the “Recently Sold” option on the home page, searching by zip code and narrowing down results by number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
Spending just a few minutes using these tools, you can figure out at least a decent idea of what your home is worth. When you’re ready, there are links right on the page to connect you with a local real estate professional.
2. Are there other houses available in a place I want to live?
If you want to stay in the same neighborhood, then this question could already be answered. If you want to look at other neighborhoods, the same tools will help you find out what’s available. I personally love this house, which happens to belong to a friend of mine!
3. Do many (or any) of those available houses meet my criteria for features?
Wait! Maybe the house I think I like doesn’t have all the features I really really need. For example, I really want a nice place to enjoy my morning coffee, and it’s no secret that I’m partial to banquettes and built-in seating. Does this house have that? By looking through the pictures provided by the listing agent, I can see that, thankfully, it does.
As it turns out, this house has quite a few wonderful features, but I already knew that. For houses you don’t know, the combination of photos and listed features on realtor.com will help you get a real feel for the house of your dreams.
4. How much will those perfect houses cost me? (and can I afford that!?)
Oops. In my case, the search must go on. I was too mesmerized to do the math in my head, so I used the ‘Estimate my monthly payment’ tool and found out that this one is still a little out of my league. Oh well, life goes on!
5. What is the “competition” for sales in my neighborhood?
6. What about school districts, access to services, traffic, etc.?
All of these questions and many more can be answered easily, quickly, and for free at realtor.com, which is why I suggest starting the process there.
If We Remodel, What Should We Do?
But there is another side to the Remodel or Move? question that you can be thinking about and paying attention to as you go through these first steps. There is the “If we remodel, what should we be sure to do or not do?” question.
- Are there any features that most homes in my price range have that I don’t?
- Do the majority of homes in my neighborhood have more or fewer bedrooms?
- Where do I stand in terms of square footage? Am I already the biggest house around?
- What about value? Am I already the most expensive house around, or can I safely improve my property and expect the value to increase?
There are many remodels which, in strictly financial terms, should never happen because the house is already the biggest and most expensive around. Making that house bigger and more expensive will likely cost much more than will be able to be recouped whenever the house is sold.
On the other hand, if you see that you have the only three bedroom home in your area and are 750sf smaller than the next house, you might do very well by doing a bedroom addition.
The Icing on The Cake — Inspiration & Ideas
Last, but not least, is the fact that you can get some ideas and inspiration for your remodeling projects large and small while browsing the listings at realtor.com. Even if you decide to neither remodel nor move, you might still find the perfect design idea for your bathroom or outdoor living project. They even have a great blog!
So what about you? Have you ever used realtor.com to find a home, get ideas, or help make that major Remodel or Move? decision?