Should You Renovate or Relocate?
Thursday, March 24, 2016
You know that feeling. You're standing there looking around your house and it just isn't cutting it. It may have been perfect once but now, maybe because the kids have moved out or new ones have arrived, you've got older or your work arrangements have changed, it isn't comfortable and isn't working. What do you do? Is it time for a home renovation or relocation? It's one of real estate's Big Questions.
How can you approach it?
First thing is to go outside your house and look around. What's happening in your neighbourhood? Lots of “For Sale” signs can suggest the market is strong and there are buyers. It might be time to think about cashing out and looking into relocation. But, maybe lots of homes for sale might also create an over-supply that can't be matched by current demand.
“For Sale” signs in themselves will tell you a little, but not much.
So, you'll have to dig a little deeper. Have a look at how your neighbourhood looks. Is it well-maintained or is it looking a little run-down? Have there been, or are there now, a few home improvements happening?
What you need to ask is whether fixing up your home will fit the streetscape. In a dowdy street, upscaling your place will look out of place and perhaps a bit silly. It could cost too much to cover your outlay, if you ever do seek to sell.
The term ‘over capitalisation’ applies here. The bottom line is home renovation costs can be high and if your home renovations don’t fit the area you are living you may lose money when you want or need to sell.
Once you've considered this, then it’s time to look further afield at what's going on beyond your street. What amenities are available? Are there more or less than there used to be? Have the shops down the road changed, and if so, how?
Doing so will give you a read on the demographics of your suburb and surrounds. For instance, the arrival or departure of public transport stops, shopping centres, schools, health facilities, and entertainment spots all indicate as to which direction the area is heading, in terms of age, income and more.
Is this somewhere you want to live now, in 5 years, in 10 years?
Such simple research may make the ‘renovate or relocate’ decision for you.
But, if you're still not sure, take a closer look at your home. Would your home stand up to your grand renovation ideas?
When things go wrong on renovation, it's a perfect storm. Your whole living space can get thrown out of whack, and with it your sense of equilibrium, home and peace and quiet. Renovation problems can be under-estimated as a major drain on your energy and resources.
As such, it pays to consult the experts. Bring in the tradies and the specialists to get their take on what's possible and what's not. Get a few opinions as tradies are like anybody else; some may, while remaining within their obligations, be more conservative than others. It's up to you which way you want to lean.
Part of this assessment is to find out just how good your home really is. Is it sellable at the price you want/need to move where you want to? Structural weaknesses may not only curtail your extension ambitions, they may drag your sale price down as well. Maybe it's worth spending some money on less glamorous fix-ups, like new wiring or plumbing, or re-stumping, rather than on a flashy new kitchen or a spectacular infinity pool.
Future for an empty nest
Another consideration in the conundrum is your future needs.
The most obvious impacts on family life are around family additions and subtractions, plus work and lifestyle shifts (including health concerns) brought about by aging.
Children leaving the nest or filling it up, carer proximity to your grandchildren, or an ailing parent moving in will affect how you live and where. You might need to be closer to health facilities. You might want to be in a better internet area if you are increasingly working from home, or starting a home business. A quieter life might beckon an aging couple away from the inner city.
In thinking about whether to relocate or renovate, you should think ahead about where you might/want/need to be in a decade or two. Can those shifts and movements you see coming be better accommodated where you are, with some alterations, or won't they be possible at all, unless you move?
Finally, it should go without saying that whatever it is that you decide to do, consider the timing. Both moving and renovating will cause considerable upheaval for all involved, so should be planned at a time that will pose the least amount of disruption.
It's a given that our lives change over time. People come and go, work waxes and wanes and communities can die or thrive. Making a call on whether to renovate or relocate may be one of life's major moments. There's so much to weigh up and there's no real template to offer a generic sense of direction or purpose.
So, you are obliged to shape your needs to your circumstances and vice versa. Doing your own research is vital. Checking out as much as you can and being as well informed as you possibly can will allow you to at least feel comfortable making whatever decision you do make. Not being rushed or ill-informed will ensure better decision making and a workable means of making the best choice for you and your family.
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