Love it or list it? How to decide whether to renovate or move home

No matter how many years you’ve spent in your home and how many memories you’ve created there, sometimes you’re ready for a change. Whether your family is growing and you need another bedroom, or you’re simply in need of some new scenery, your home can very quickly turn into a space you’re trapped in.

At this point, you’re faced with a difficult decision — should you pack up, move to another area and find your new dream home? Or should you invest your time and money into improving your current home to resolve any pain points? There are a few points to consider that can help make this decision easier.

Cost: Is it cheaper to renovate or move home?

Neither moving or renovating your home comes at a cheap price. Both require strict budgeting and forward planning, along with hard work to make your vision a reality. A lot depends on your current mortgage situation, how much money you have saved, and the amenities you’re looking for in a property.

Moving house is generally more expensive than renovating. Not only are house prices predicted to continue rising, but there are many additional costs involved such as Stamp Duty (a tax based on a percentage of the property’s value) as well as estate agent, solicitor, valuation, and even removal fees to think about. The costs easily add up.

Renovating is typically cheaper, although the overall cost is influenced by the improvements you want to make. Updating a few rooms is going to be much cheaper than remodeling every inch of your home. If you’re looking to make structural changes to the property such as an extension or loft conversion, unless you have significant savings, you’ll likely need to take out a loan such as a second charge mortgage. This type of loan uses the equity you hold in your home as collateral, freeing up extra cash that you can then reinvest in your home.

However, renovating isn’t always the answer. If your home requires substantial work, or you find that properties in other locations are far cheaper than in your local area, it may be more cost-effective to pack up and move. If your goal is actually to downsize your home, renovating is not a good solution practically or financially.

Real estate market: Is it a good time to sell?

If you’re thinking about selling your home and moving elsewhere, it’s important to consider whether market conditions are working in your favour financially.

First, you should consider seasonal trends. According to research on house market activity over the course of a year, late February to the end of June are “great” times to sell. Spring is widely regarded as one of the best periods when gardens are in bloom and homes receive plenty of natural light. Summer is a less favourable time to sell due to holidays, plus families have more time taken up by child care during the long break from school. Winter isn’t ideal either. Not only are potential buyers very busy in the lead-up to Christmas, but climate conditions are not conducive to showing off your property in its prime.

Aside from seasonal trends, there are other market conditions to consider. If the demand for housing is high, the market gets competitive and prices tend to rise. If there is less demand, buyers have more power in negotiating lower prices. It’s essential to assess house price trends in your local area to determine if your home value has increased and how much money you could make from selling.

If the market conditions suggest it’s not a good time to sell your home, choosing to make improvements to your current home may prove to be the better investment. Even in the short term, you could make home improvements with the intention of increasing value and selling at a later date. For example, if your local area is popular with families looking for more bedroom space, converting a loft into an extra bedroom could add extra value to your home, which means more money in your pocket when you eventually sell.

Emotional attachment: Do you love your current home?

While there are plenty of reasons to move from your home — job and school opportunities, or a larger home — there are also plenty of reasons that make moving difficult. Emotional attachments, like leaving your childhood home, can sway you towards wanting to renovate rather than sell. Or, you could love the community you live in, especially if you’re close to your friends and family. These things can all make moving all the more difficult, without accounting for the stress of actually relocating.

These emotional attachments shouldn’t be underestimated either. According to research published by MyHomeMove in 2017, “43% of UK homeowners have experienced a sense of ‘sadness, grief or loss’ after moving house”.

You should also consider the effects of moving on your other family members. If you have young children, will the move require them to move schools? And would it be difficult to keep in touch with their existing friends in order to make the transition easier? Consider all the reasons for your move and weigh them up against reasons to stay put. After all, leaving anything sentimental behind can hurt, so it’s important to do it for the right reasons.

Practicality: Is anything actually ‘wrong’ with your current home?

Considering the financial, emotional and physical costs of relocating, sometimes it’s just not practical to move. It’s also not always feasible given other life events happening to you or your family members.

Consider your motives for moving. Is it that you need more space for a growing family? If so, check if it’s possible to expand your home with an extension or loft conversion, which means you won’t need to uproot your entire family.

Ultimately, deciding whether to renovate or move home depends on your own personal circumstances. Sometimes, a simple layout change or changing a room’s purpose can solve a problem that you thought only moving house could fix. At the same time, it may be a good time to make the most of the equity you’ve built in your property and sell for extra cash that could come in handy. When you weigh up the pros and cons outlined here, the picture should become a lot clearer and the final decision easier to make.

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