Move Or Improve?
Selling a home costs money thousands of dollars by the time you total up the closing and moving costs, and thousands more if you have to outfit your next home with new appliances and furniture. If you don't have to sell immediately, weigh your decision carefully especially if the market is slow and chances are high you won't get top price for your home.
Consider remodeling to upgrade your living space or better suit your needs. Make a list of the improvements you want, then get some estimates from a local contractor. Total up the cost of selling your home (usually 7 percent to 10 percent of your sales price) and moving ($1,500 on up), and compare the two. Ask yourself:
Do you have the space to expand?
If not, and you need space, the issue may be moot. But consider other ways to maximize the space you have.
What is your house's condition?
Do your own inspection to see if you have any major problems lurking, such as an aging heating system that needs replacement or potentially serious wood damage.
How much can you do before you start over-improving for the neighborhood?
Whatever your improvements, they should match the size and sensibility of the area in which you live. Too many improvements do not always translate into higher resale value, and your massive addition may alienate your neighbors.
Will remodeling do the trick?
Be realistic about how much remodeling can do. If you want to live in a spacious home on a large lot right now, no contractor will be able to turn your tiny urban bungalow into the home of your dreams.
Will it pay off in the long run?
In a slow market, you can expect to get a lower price for your home and much less of a payback for improvements than you would receive in a fast market. Kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects consistently return the most in resale value while converting a basement into a family room yields the smallest return. Factor in any financing costs you incur if you refinance or use a home equity loan to complete your project.