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How to know whether you should renovate your home or sell it

Posted March 5, 2020 5:00 a.m. EST

When it comes to deciding whether to renovate your home, or put it on the market and search for a new forever home, there are a few things to consider. (monkeybusinessimages/Big Stock Photo)

This story was written for our sponsor, Coldwell Banker Howard Perry and Walston.

If you've lived in your current home for 10 or more years, then you've probably wondered if you should spend time updating it or searching for a new place. When it comes to deciding whether to renovate Old Faithful or put her on the market in search of a new forever home, there are a few things to consider.

Ken Cannon, a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Howard Perry and Walston, said the answer lies at the end of two key questions:

What is my motivation for seeking a housing change?

Can I get a bigger return on my investment by renovating my existing home, or by selling my current home and investing in a new property?

"Location plays a large part in the motivation equation. If our clients love their current neighborhood, then I typically recommend a renovation of their existing property," added Christine Khoury, also a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Howard Perry and Walton. "However, if key local attractions – such as favorite coffee shops, retail spaces and sporting venues – have sprung up in different parts of the city since the time of purchase, then homeowners often look to sell their current homes and move closer to the new attractions. Just as in the past, 'location, location, location' continues to reign supreme."

In instances when location is less of an issue, Cannon said the presence – or absence – of highly-desirable amenities can help homeowners decide whether to stay or to go.

"Today we see more than a few Baby Boomers who – as they age and become less comfortable climbing stairs – are debating whether to add an elevator to their homes," Khoury added. "While adding an elevator is a costly endeavor, homeowners must weigh those costs against the time that they plan to stay in the home. I always ask my clients what will be more cost effective in the long run — to renovate your current home, or to move to a new home that already has your desired amenities in place?"

Cannon said today's lack of new-home inventory is encouraging more and more clients to renovate their existing homes.

"Folks are opting to keep what they've got and make it current," he said.

"Of course, today's renovations also help to prepare for tomorrow's relocations," Khoury added. "And the higher a home's selling price, then the more potential buyers expect for the home to be renovated. For a home that hasn't been updated during the last 20 to 30 years, it's critical that the owner renovates and brings the home in the 21st Century."

What's the top room that prospective home buyers most expect to find renovated in an existing home?

Cannon and Khoury agree: the kitchen.

"Most of the time, it's the kitchen that sells the home," Khoury said.

Cannon added that when selling your home, you can also get a lot of mileage out of enhancing your home's curb appeal.

"We encourage our clients to invest in making interior and exterior updates to their homes each year," Khoury said. "Then the upgrades and the renovations don't become a major project. A home that is regularly updated is always ready to market. Plus, the homeowners can enjoy the benefits of the upgrades while they continue to live in the home."

So, how do you decide whether to love your home or list it? Khoury advised enlisting the support and counsel of a real estate agent.

"We're a resource for our clients. It's our job to help them determine the pros and the cons of selling versus renovating," she said. "At times, that means working with an engineer or a stager to help a homeowner see the value of their current home. Other times, that means guiding our client to a new home. Either way, we help our clients to evaluate all the possibilities."

This story was written for our sponsor, Coldwell Banker Howard Perry and Walston.