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Should you remodel your house or sell it?

After making improvements to a home -- such

After making improvements to a home -- such as painting it, replacing light fixtures and getting rid of clutter -- some people change their mind about selling. Credit: Getty Images / iStockphoto / Zazamaza

Choosing whether to renovate or to move — essentially, in the words of HGTV, whether to love it or list it — is a complicated decision. Before forging ahead, you need to weigh many factors, say real estate experts, including these:

How long have you lived there?

Consider waiting three to five years before selling. Typically, a homeowner breaks even at three years. Property values also can change during this time, which could improve your home’s value.

Time and money

Renovating can be time-consuming: It involves waiting for permits and inspectors, communicating with the general contractor and spending time picking out finishes and fixtures. The process also can be expensive. Those considering a remodel should budget for 20 percent more than the estimated cost to allow room for unforeseen expenses.

Don’t ‘over’-improve

The best investments you can make are upgrades to the bathroom, kitchen, landscape, carpet and paint. Your home value is in part based on comparable houses in the neighborhood, so if there’s a chance you might sell your home down the line, be careful not to renovate so extensively that your home’s value far outpaces others in the area — you’ll be less likely to recoup your costs when you sell.

Location, location

Location is and always should be the first consideration, say real estate agents. If you love your current location, then you may want to renovate to stay there rather than move to a better home in a less desirable location.

Can you afford the house you want?

Talk with a local real estate agent who knows your neighborhood well. Depending on what the market is for homes like yours, the agent will tell you whether now is a good time to sell — and whether you’ll be able to find or afford the next home you want.

Never looked better?

After making improvements to a home — such as painting it, replacing light fixtures and getting rid of clutter — some people change their mind about selling. Before you put it on the market, think about whether improving might be better than moving.

Reassess

If you need extra bedrooms and can’t split one in two, then you may have outgrown your space. Or if you’re always feeling cramped in the common areas and have no more walls to knock down, then perhaps it’s time to seriously consider a move.

But if your issues can be resolved with renovations, you can expand the patio area for more outdoor space and you’re fond of your neighborhood, you are probably better off staying where you are. The cost of moving combined with house-hunting time and effort won’t be worth it, especially if you haven’t lived in your home for long.

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