Renovate or Move

"Should we renovate or move?" It's a common question. This time of year can get us all thinking about if our current space fits our current needs. I’m going to guide you through some myths and best practices of the elusive “renovate or move” question, and help you nail down your next steps. 

Have you ever considered adding a room? Dreamed about changing your floor plan? Maybe think you have too much house for your season of life? No matter your current circumstances the real question you should be asking is: 

“Does this property fit my current needs?”

A renovation might fix the problem, but finding a property that already suits your needs could be more financially responsible. Truth be told, renovations can sometimes cost more (in money and sanity) than finding a new place that already has your Top 5 Needs and Wants.

On the other hand, you may want to stay exactly where you are with some updates for a variety of reasons. Your decision will affect more than just your pocketbook. It will affect your commute, relationships with neighbors, and school district selection, just to name a few, so take the time to think it through before you make a choice!

Common Myths

Renovation Myth: Sticking to the budget will keep the project cost effective.

Fact: The problems happen when you allocate $10 per square foot for tile, but fall in love with tile that's $25 per square. Oh, don’t think it can’t happen to you! Or you budget $10,000 for new kitchen appliances, but then Costco has the higher end appliances on sale, and you think, “Well, I can’t walk away from that deal, so I’ll stretch the budget just a little…”. Or your contractor opens up a wall to make a more open living space only to find the support beam is rotten, and the scope and expense of the project gets a whole lot bigger.

The fact is that a renovation that doesn’t have some unforeseen expenses and stays 100% under-budget is pretty much a unicorn. Set a budget, but plan to go over it by at least 10-15%. 

Selling Myth: I can list my house and just see what happens

Fact: Signing a listing agreement means that you have decided to sell your property. Properly marketing a listing costs anywhere from $200-$800, so being wishy-washy about your plan could cost money, plus hours of frustration and discouragement.

In the current real estate environment it is pretty much a given that a properly marketed property will get at least one reasonable, competitive offer. Once you accept an offer, it is a huge ordeal to back out if you change your mind. So unless you are certain you are ready to sign an acceptance and hand over the keys at escrow, don’t "just see what happens" to your property.

Best Practices

The choice to renovate or move is very personal. No one knows your needs better than you do, so ask yourself the hard questions.  Put pen to paper to clarify what really matters to you.

  • Write down your top 5 needs and wants of a property, in order of priority.
  • Create a detailed list of what would need to be done to make your existing place fit those top 5.
  • Speak with a professional real estate agent about your plans so you have an idea what the return on investment would be for each project. 
  • Get at least 3 bids per renovation project from licensed contractors.
  • Compare monetary and emotional expenses for selling versus renovating.

Now What?

Go back to the basics and ask yourself: “Does this house and property fit my current needs?” If the answer is no (you probably wouldn't have read this far if the answer was clear to you), then what are you doing about it? Will you renovate or move? I challenge you to honestly answer these questions, and fill out the Top 5 worksheet—because after all, you have to live here every day! And it should be servicing your needs.

Check this page out to learn more about what it takes to get your house sold.

All the best,




Learn which improvements will get you the highest return on your investment.

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