Should I Renovate or Relocate?
(Spoiler alert: You’re asking the wrong question.)
If we had a dollar for every time we’ve been asked, “Should I renovate my existing place or buy a new one?”, we’d have enough money to do both.
It’s one of the first thoughts that comes to mind when you decide to upgrade your current living situation. The right answer is not always obvious, which is scary given that we’re talking about one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your lifetime, at least from a financial perspective.
That’s why we tell all our clients that before they ask that all-important question, they need to ask three other questions first. Carefully considering your responses to each of them can help point you in the right direction.
Question 1: What is on your wishlist?
Everyone has their reasons for wanting to invest in a remodel or new home. What are yours? Are you looking for more room for a growing family? A more permanent home office? A better school for the kids? Take some time to literally create a wish list of everything you’re hoping for in your ideal home.
To us, the best answer to the age-old “renovate or relocate” question can be found by honestly assessing which expenditure checks off the most items on your wish list. And in our experience, more times than not, it’s the renovation path that gets you closest to your dream home.
Question 2: How many wishes on that list can come true?
Homeowners are great at the wishlist part. It’s the reality part that gets them in trouble. That’s where we can help. We’ve been doing remodels and new construction projects all over the Bay Area for 40 years, so it’s safe to say we’ve gotten pretty good at identifying what items on your wish list are feasible and, more importantly, which ones are not.
The location of your home plays a big role in this feasibility exercise. Every jurisdiction has its own regulations and permitting quirks. Looking to double your square footage? That’s a lot more doable in Oakland or Moraga than it is in, say, San Francisco. But even in more renovation-friendly parts of the Bay Area, you need to make sure that whatever design dreams you have in your head are firmly grounded in reality. We’ve never been afraid to tell clients they’re better off pursuing the “clean canvas” of a new home because no one wins when you take on a remodeling project with little to no chance of success.
Question 3: Are you up for a Bay Area home buying adventure?
Sure, a remodel can be stressful, but it pales in comparison to buying a home in the uniquely crazy Bay Area housing market. Today’s buyers don’t just require an informed perspective of what they’re buying but a truckload of cash on hand to buy it—oftentimes with a moment’s notice. And “turn-key” homes are rarely that. Beware the potentially costly fixes hidden underneath all that pretty staging.
Don’t get us wrong. Whether you ultimately decide to remodel or relocate, it’s going to be expensive. Never make the mistake of assuming renovation is the cheaper option, especially if you want it done the right way. To us, the best answer to the age-old “renovate or relocate” question can be found by honestly assessing which expenditure checks off the most items on your wish list. And in our experience, more times than not, it’s the renovation path that gets you closest to your dream home.