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is it better to remodel or buy anthoer house?

We own our home outright, no mortgage, but we are considering adding a 600 SF room (Bedroom, Bath, and walk in closet).  This addition will make our home grow from 950 SF to 1,550 SF.  However we have seen many homes in our city either up for sale or foreclosure, for example we have seen a 1,900 SF home w/Pool (Y/B -1956) needs a little bit of work, for $80,000.  If we made an offer we would hav to mortgage the home, but if it cost us $15,000 to add the room we could pay that off by the time they finish building our room.
Is it better to remodel or buy another house?
  • January 30 2012 - Southwest
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Answers (6)

It depends. Most remodels - virtually all of them - are a compromise. The home wasn't originally designed this way, we made some modifications but there are still some compromises.

However. Most people who are thinking of trading up do not have the $$$ to buy a home that is without compromises, so the new home has a different set of compromises to deal with!

I'm not going to encourage anybody to spend 20% of the home's value on a remodel without seeing it.
  • January 31 2012
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I think there are a few critical questions you can ask yourself in order to figure out what will be best for you:
1) Do you love your home/neighbors/neighborhood? Would you be sad to lose them and start over in a new house/neighborhood? Don't undervalue the emotional value of your current home and neighborhood.
2) Is your home in generally good condition? Would you be ready and able to take on an unknown home that might have issues like a leaky roof, old furnace or hot water heater, or other surprises that you may have to deal with in the year after making the new purchase? Remember that you know your current home - warts and all - but that knowledge is something you'll have to build slowly in any new home.
3) How close are you to retiring, and how conservative are you about spending money? Are you at a point in your life at which you'd resent spending money on real estate transaction costs for a new home? Would a new mortgage place a bigger financial burden than paying off the $15K debt for a room addition or would you sell your old home and buy the new home for cash? Would you be happier putting your money into tangible things - like a beautiful room addition - instead of sinking funds into things like closing and repair costs on a new home?
4) Will you qualify for a mortgage for a new home? Even financially secure folks are not always assured of a mortgage approval in today's changed lending environment. It's something worth checking into.
5) If you add the 600 sq ft addition, would your home be substantially better than others in the neighborhood? You want to be careful not to "over-improve" or you run the risk of investing money in improvements that you can't get back when you do eventually sell the house.

*** There are other questions your can ask, but these should help you start thinking through your options. It's ultimately a matter of which decision works best in terms of your financial planning as well as the very important emotional issues relating to your attachment to your current home, neighborhood and neighbors vs. "the great unknown"! GOOD LUCK!
  • January 31 2012
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It would be a good idea to have a realtor come in and give your their advice after viewing your home, they can also give ideas on what type of remodeling would increase your value the most

  • January 30 2012
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Profile picture for MiamiCondosandHomes
We recommend the addition, if it is in your best interest fiscally to assume the risk of adding the home. It is easy to be seduced by prices of foreclosures and short  sales, so be sure to contact a reputable realtor to give you a comparative market analysis of your home as is, then make a decision with this in mind.
  • January 30 2012
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Profile picture for blue screen exile
If you bought another, what would you do with the existing?  Sell it?  Would you get enough from the sale to make it worthwhile?  Remember you have the transaction costs including Realtor fees, recording fees, termite inspection/mitigation...  Even if you could sell for $65k, and even if you only took into account 6% Realtor fees, that is still almost $4k.  Figure about 1200 for the pest inspection and mitigation; more if you haven't had it looked at for a while.  Also consider your moving costs and time.

For the addition, consider:
1) lot coverage & setbacks
2) Floor area ratio (living space to lot size ratio) and if the Zoning has any limitations.
3) whether you might be overbuilding for the neighborhood, and thus not able to sell for a reasonable value in the future.
4) How much you like the neighborhood
5) noise and dust during the construction.
6) weather-sealing the house when the wall is opened and/or cut for the
addition. (Roof too).


Also remember, if you buy a foreclosure it likely will not be "move in" ready, and you likely will have to put additional time and construction effort in to make it usable for you.
  • January 30 2012
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Profile picture for Caveat Emptor
which do you WANT? go with that choice and make the numbers work.
  • January 30 2012
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