It's a complicated question with no single right answer.
A mortgage typically lasts a long time, and a lot can change before it's paid in full. So chances are, sooner or later your home won't fit your lifestyle quite right anymore. That's the point where many homeowners list it and look for a new place to set up housekeeping. But there's the alternative, which is modifying what you've got.
The decision to sell or renovate isn't easy or straightforward. And some of the advice that you've heard in the past might not hold true anymore. If your closets are all wrong and the kitchen doesn't give you what you need, here are a few of the things that you'll need to think about while deciding. Love your home, or maybe leave it for someone else to buy.
The Case for Staying Where You Are
There's something about being established in a neighborhood. You probably have friends nearby, and you're familiar with the shopping and other community essentials such as schools. Being established is a comfortable position for many homeowners and it takes years to achieve.
Then there's the fact that you've built up equity in your home. If the market is right, you could cash that out when you sell. But if it's not, you might move to the next house and lose some of the financial progress that you'd made. Like the stock market, staying put means that you can weather the ups and downs and eventually come out ahead, at least barring extraordinary circumstances such as a housing bubble that wrecks home values in the aftermath.
If your home is a reasonably good size but just doesn't have what you want, renovating or adding on could be the best option. For an addition, such as a new kitchen or even a suite of rooms for aging parents, you'll need enough property to build out or the authority to build up. Local code will tell you whether either is an option.
Renovating without adding on can also give surprising benefits. Move a wall, and the living room is more spacious. Gut the kitchen and start from scratch, and you might find a much better layout. Working with a professional builder will help you understand what's architecturally feasible and what's not. It can also show renovation possibilities that you hadn't imagined. For example, the attic or basement could yield an enormous amount of living space.
The amenities and space that you dream about are probably available in another house.
The Case for Listing Your Home for Sale
If you're not especially attached to your home, selling could help you find exactly the right home for this phase of life. If the kids are grown, maybe you don't need 4 bedrooms. If you're nearing retirement, a staircase that you have to climb in order to go to bed every night might not remain as great of an idea as it once was.
Then there's the trend toward downsizing. Families, young and older, are trending toward smaller spaces and less stuff. Downsizing can also cost less in some areas, plus there's less to maintain. Maybe you don't want to vacuum and mop a mile of floors every week or fuss with maintaining an acre of land anymore.
For others, it's time to upgrade. But improving a home isn't always the best choice. U.S. News and World Report says improvement costs are going up and up. And some expensive improvements that you want or need won't translate to an equity payoff if you do sell later.
There's a lot to finding the right home, and much of it comes with years of experience in the real estate industry. Where some buyers fall in love with a house, an agent can help point out possible issues. For example, a great house with electric baseboard heating could cost a fortune to heat, and replacing the heating system wouldn't be cheap.
To stay or to sell is one of the age-old questions in home ownership. There's always something a little better someplace else. And when the time is right, selling could be exactly what you need. But for others, there really is no place like home, even if you have to renovate to get it.
Whether you want to stay or sell, eppraisal can help. With a free property valuation, you'll see how some of the homes in your area compare to yours in value and amenities. That can help you determine what's worth improving. And if you want to sell, we'll connect you with the right real estate professionals for your needs.