Sell or Renovate…or Both?

Renovate or sell

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If you’ve owned a home for a few years, you’ve probably had this thought: “Should I spend the money on my dream kitchen, or just buy a new house?”

That’s a common problem, but there’s no simple answer. The average person moves 11. 7 times in their lifetime. Once they buy a house, however, their frequency of moving slows down. Homes are a significant investment, so it makes sense that changing them doesn’t come easy.

You spend a lot of time in your home, so you really should LOVE it!  Renovations can be expensive if you are talking about ripping down walls, additions or major repairs.  Or maybe it’s just a new coat of paint that would make you turn a drab dated home into a fabulous new one. In the end, it usually comes down to the dollars and yes, your attachment to your house on an emotional level.

So – hammer in hand or are you calling a REALTOR

Start with your emotions

While it’s important to make financial decisions objectively, you can’t ignore your own feelings. Does your bank account balance matter if you aren’t happy in your own home?

Some people couldn’t fathom living anywhere else. They love the area, their neighbors, their children’s school system, etc. They’ve connected with their home. They’re willing to make sweeping (and sometimes expensive) changes to their home in order to live there.

Other people know that no matter how lavishly their home is renovated, they’ll never LOVE it. There’s something about it they can never come to like. They want out and that’s that. If you’re one of these people, don’t spend your time browsing ideas on Pinterest; just call an agent.

What are your needs?

It’s critical that you clearly understand why you want to make a change. Dig deep and figure out what’s unacceptable about your current home. Is it too small? Do you want more bedrooms or a playroom? Do you need a garage or basement?

If your needs can easily be changed, perhaps moving isn’t appropriate. Basic cosmetic features like the siding, countertops, or bathroom fixtures can be changed. Even bedrooms can be added without building additions in some cases. Before you call a REALTOR, browse the web for ideas to transform your interior or exterior spaces.  Now is the time to hit up Pinterest!

If your needs can be met by a renovation, don’t forget to factor in time. According to, renovating a bathroom can take three months. A kitchen can take six months.

If your house can’t be changed to fit your needs, however, it’s time to move. Making changes to the footprint, foundation, or terrain are often prohibitively expensive. You can’t change things like the neighbors, the local government, or the road configuration. Don’t be afraid to say “This neighborhood isn’t for me anymore.”

Consider your finances

For most people, the ability to afford a move or remodel is the true limiter. If you move to a house of identical value, you’ll maintain your equity for the next house, but you’ll still incur closing fees and moving expenses. But most people move up, to a more expensive home. Make sure you consider the long-term cost difference of a bigger mortgage.

If you renovate your home, you’ll have to pay for it somehow. If you have the cash on hand, the cost is simple to determine. If you need a home equity loan, make sure to consider the impact of compound interest. Certain improvements, however (like a finished basement, extra garage port, or additional bedroom), can increase the value of your house, which might equalize your investment when you finally sell.

However you decide, make sure the decision you make will maximize your happiness. Your home is the center of your world. It should make you happy!

Jennifer Ives-Groebl
Vice President, Senior Mortgage Lender
NMLS MLO ID: 532621

Author: Jennifer Ives-Groebl

Jennifer has been with Litchfield Bancorp since 1994 and was promoted to Assistant Vice President and Senior Mortgage Originator shortly after graduating the Connecticut School of Finance & Management in 1998. Stationed in both our Torrington and Litchfield locations, Jennifer is well known and respected in the local residential real estate community and recognized as a resource for some of the more difficult transactions. Jennifer resides in Torrington and is actively involved in the local community. She is a long time member of the Torrington/Winsted Rotary club and is currently serving as its Assistant Treasurer. Jennifer is involved with Litchfield County Board of Realtors and serves as chair of the Audit Committee and a member of the Public Relations Committee. She is also a member of the Fuessenich Park Partnership; and through Education Connection, has participated in the Mentoring Program.