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Remodel, Renovate, Or Sell? The Upgrade Dilemma

Remodel vs. Addition?  Granite vs. Laminate?  There are so many questions when it comes to improving your home.

Who do you turn to for advice about your home? Do you ask your friends? Do you look at homes online? Or do you ask your Realtor? There are so many questions that arise when you are thinking of doing any work to your home that it can often seem overwhelming.

As a Realtor, I get asked questions all the time, such as should I remodel, renovate or sell? Before answering the question, I always ask my clients exactly what it is they are trying to accomplish and about how much they would like to spend. I will then take my clients out to look at homes that are priced in the range of what their current house plus renovations would equal. This is an important step as it helps them determine if they are “over-improving” their home. In essence, it lets them see how their renovated home stacks up to what is currently on the market at this increased “price” point. The most important thing, whether you are talking to a real estate professional or not, is doing your research!

Keeping up with the Joneses

No one likes to admit that they slow down in front of their neighbor’s house when they see that work is being done. Trucks in the driveway only pique the curiosity of the interested (okay, nosey neighbors!). I hate to admit it, but staying on top of your neighborhood’s improvements is very important to the value/resale of your own home. Do you go to your neighbors open house? Of course you do! Not to check out the competition because unless your house is on the market, you are not considered competition.  You go to see their improvements, check out the differences between your two homes, and to determine what your home is worth based on what your neighbors house is on the market for (more importantly what it sells for!).  If you don’t go to your neighborhood open houses, I recommend that you change your way. You can learn a lot. Did they use granite in the kitchen, high end appliances, custom cabinets? Or did they throw a piece of granite on their old cabinets and paint the cabinets? Did they fully update the bathrooms or did they paint the tile?  Does the house have the original windows or have they been updated?

There is so much to discover at an open house. Don’t be afraid to go in and ask the listing agent questions, but be courteous to your neighbors when there are potential buyers in the house.  Don’t make negative remarks about the house or the sellers and don’t tell potential buyers how your house is better. Just think about what you would want your neighbors to say if it were your house on the market.  In the end, your house will benefit from your neighbors house selling at its highest value.  When you are thinking of remodeling or doing a major renovation, it is important to have an understanding of your neighborhood.

Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report 2010-11

If you are thinking about remodeling or building an addition to your home, then make it your business to read the Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report 2010-11. This report contains a wealth of knowledge.  The report doesn’t just have national numbers. You will find local information on the cost of remodeling or doing an addition to your home.  The report hits all the important line items such as Basement Remodel, Garage Addition, Kitchen Remodel, and the list just keeps on going.  In addition, Job Cost, Resale Value and Cost Recouped Percentage are detailed out in this report.  It’s extremely useful to see the $ figures and the percentages. Furthermore, the report breaks down each project with a full description of the work to be done.  There is so much value in this report and you should make it a valuable part of your overall research.

For example, according to the report, you can expect a 66% return on a Attic Bedroom Remodel with a cost of about $65,913 in the Boston area.  For a major kitchen remodel, you can expect a 69% return with a cost of about $67,061 and for a minor kitchen remodel, you can expect 75% return with a cost of about $24,361.

The report is also broken out by midrange and upscale renovations depending on how much you want to spend and what lines up the best with your neighborhood. This report has been made available for free at

To Remodel, Move or Add?

It is a very simple question, but one that usually entails a very long answer.  There are so many variables and moving parts that go into answering it for each individual. At the end of the day, if you do your research and gain a better sense of the current marketplace (focusing on your neighborhood/town), you’ll invariably come to the “right” answer for you.

Most of all: live, love and laugh in your home.  After all, that is really what your home is all about, living!