A popular TV show involves a designer competing with a Real Estate Agent for the heart and finances of the featured homeowners. The designer offers a remodeling plan—within the homeowner’s budget—to address as many of the things about the home that led to considering a move. Meanwhile, the Real Estate Agent looks for a “dream” home that offers all the features the homeowners would like. Viewers watch the homeowners struggle to make budgetary and emotional tradeoffs and their final decision.

In real life, homeowners don’t receive cash and access to designer from a TV show to help them visualize their current home’s true potential before making an informed decision about selling. Instead, they have to balance their wants, needs, and finances on their own. So, how do you make an informed call on staying or going? It helps to have a plan.

Take Action

What follows is a step-by-step plan for gathering the information you’ll want to consider before making your next move.  

Step #1: Make a list of what you want from a home and from your neighborhood.

Homes are more than features—they are where a family’s memories and many of their relationships are made. It’s important to consider the emotional cost of leaving, especially if you’ve been in your home for a while.

Step #2: Grade your current location on how well it meets those requirements.

In addition to sufficient storage and bathrooms, for instance, think about how well the schools meet your needs. It’s also important to consider commuting and how you want to spend your time.

Step #3: Talk to designers and/or contractors.

Meet with professional renovators to discuss your wants and needs in regard to your current house. Get several opinions about what fixes can reasonably be made to your home, at what cost, and the anticipated timeframe.   

Step #4: Attend open houses and browse listings online.

This will give you a better idea of what your alternative housing options are and which neighborhoods or towns you might want to focus your search on if you do decide to move.

Step #5: Meet with a Real Estate Agent.

Once you have an idea of what might work for you, the next step is to understand the market value of your home as it is, along with the estimated value if you were to remodel. You will also want to get an idea of what small fixes and repairs the Real Estate Agent thinks would be needed to get your home ready to sell and factor those costs into your consideration.

Step #6: Contact a Loan Officer about financing options for both scenarios.

Cash-out refinancing arrangements, in particular, can make remodeling more affordable. You can access the equity you’ve built up in your current home and use it to pay for your remodeling expenses.

Step #7: Do your analysis—both financial and emotional. Be sure to include the expenses associated with moving, from the movers and closing costs on a new mortgage to the new furnishings and improvements needed for a new home.  

Stay or Go?

Will you remodel so that your home reflects your current needs and lifestyle preferences or put it on the market and enjoy your memories as you start a new phase in your homeowning life? Armed with your numbers and your available options, you’ll be better prepared to decide.