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Boomers, seniors make home choices

"If you look at how long it takes to go through a remodel versus how long it takes to go through a move, they're almost equivalent," says "Remodel or Move: Make the Right Decision" author Dan Fritschen. Credit: Handout

Thinking of finally getting that new kitchen with gleaming fixtures and granite countertops? If the answer is yes, you have two main options: Call a contractor or contact a real estate agent.

Many people find that as they age, their house is aging even faster. Some boomers and seniors, if the kids are out of the house and they have some money in the bank, finally have the will and the means to update and redesign their homes. While some have medical aging-in-place concerns, others simply want to modernize their living space.

And then there are those, fearing the months of haggling, decisions, noise and mess, who decide if they can no longer live with what they have, they'd rather live someplace else, ideally a house that already has their dream features installed.

"If you look at how long it takes to go through a remodel versus how long it takes to go through a move, they're almost equivalent," says Dan Fritschen, self-published author of "Remodel or Move: Make the Right Decision," available on Amazon.com. "It's a six- to nine-month process, give or take."

Housing prices are down about 20 percent on Long Island since the 2006 peak. Assuming you have a lot of equity in your home -- or even better, a paid-off house -- some newer or updated homes on the market that were out of reach six years ago may be affordable now. By comparison, the average cost of a "midrange" major kitchen remodel has risen 6 percent, to about $60,000, since 2006, according to Remodeling Magazine. An "upscale" major kitchen remodel has an average cost of $114,000, up 3 percent from 2006.

On his remodelormove.com website, Fritschen has several free calculators aimed at helping homeowners make the right choice for them. He says that while some will never remodel because they hate the process, others love the challenge. "The dreaming, the planning, the shopping, the negotiating, it's very exciting to build what you want," he says. "Moving, you pretty much take what's on the market." And while the thought of packing and moving terrifies some, others love the idea of starting fresh.

The most popular boomer and senior remodeling projects are new bathrooms, gourmet kitchens and master suites, Fritschen says. And some fill the empty nest by turning a kid's bedroom into an exercise room or a sewing room. "Or sometimes a man cave," he says. "Dad finally gets his own entertainment room."

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