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The Home Lover's Dilemma: Sell or Renovate?

Last Updated Jun 29, 2012 · Written by Rob Schneider

Have you ever found yourself thinking, "This house isn't right for us any more!" and firmly deciding that it's time to sell, only to change your mind when selling becomes a real possibility? If so, you're not alone. It can be an agonising decision and the longer you've been in your house, the harder it can be.

Okay, your family may have outgrown your house or moved on, but it's the place where your children grew up and it's the neighbourhood where you have lived. When you seriously consider leaving it, you begin to realise all you'll be leaving behind. The memories, the friends you've made, the struggles with the mortgage you've overcome: all of these and more will tug at your heartstrings and compel you to stay. At this point, you'll start to consider your alternatives and ask: "Should I sell my home or should I renovate?"

There are a lot of advantages to renovating and it's definitely something to look into, but if a change is needed, the only way to make the right decision is to set your emotions aside and look at the practical benefits of selling versus renovating:

If You Sell:

  • Will you be able to find a more suitable home at a price you can afford?
  • Will your new home be in a neighbourhood you'll enjoy living in?
  • Will your new neighbourhood have the infrastructure you need? Is there a school nearby? What about shopping centres, hospitals and other services?

If You Renovate:

  • Will the benefits outweigh the costs?
  • Will you end up with something you will love or will you have to make compromises?
  • Can you put up with the disruption to your life during renovations?
  • Will the renovations add value to your home?
After 20 years in the same location, I had to decide between spending a lot of money on foundation work and adding a granny flat to my property or moving on. Then I found out I didn't have enough extra land on my property to legally add a granny flat, so I decided I really wasn't able to afford to stay any longer. Although it wasn't easy, I decided to sell.

Of course, you will have to make your own decisions based on your circumstances, but for what it's worth, I'm glad I made the most practical decision under my personal circumstances. After selling my house, I discovered it wasn't really the physical location of my house that was important, but the memories it contained. Although the house is gone, the memories remain. Had I stayed there for sentimental reasons, I'd be struggling with an unsustainable level of debt and probably be so worried about paying the bills, I'd be unable to savour those 20 years of memories now. As an extra bonus, I've really grown to love my new home, so nothing was lost and everything gained.

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