Assessing the benefits of an extensive home renovation against selling your property is always a worthwhile exercise.

Selling your home is rarely an easy decision. It will often hold family memories, and that makes it tough to leave. It’s also likely to be your most significant financial asset, and you want to be confident you can maximise its value.

The process of selling isn’t cheap with commissions, legal fees and taxes. But the alternatives are to tolerate your home in its current condition or to talk to an architect or builder about giving your home a makeover.

That’s not cheap, either. Costs can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars, and there’s never a guarantee the work will finish on time and budget. If you think selling is stressful, you should try a large-scale renovation!

Regardless of which way you jump, it’s likely you’re going to need finance – whether that’s refinancing your current loan for a renovation or a new loan for a new property – so it’s worth talking to your mortgage broker to understand your options.

Here are a few tips to help you think it through.

  1. Structural issues – A continually leaking roof, creaking joists, or a tired kitchen from the 80s, can get to you after a while. These are usually a sign that the structural elements of your home are deteriorating and you need to act.
  2. Money in the bank – You can afford to decide whether you want to pour your hard-earned cash into your existing home, or climb the property ladder and find a superior property. Or if you’ve paid down a lot of your current home loan, you may be able to redraw to fund a renovation.
  3. You intend to stick around – If your home is well located, you may opt to stay and maximise the potential rather than move. However, if you favour a renovation, be aware that upgrades offer the best payback when you sell within a year or so of the work being completed. Your new kitchen doesn’t stay new forever although it is likely to give you a lifestyle benefit for at least a decade.
  4. Big squeeze – If your current home is getting too small, you’ve got the option of building an extension, but that means you’ll have to battle the planning process as well as the stress of selecting an architect and builders and perhaps paying rent while the work is being done. If the rebuild is so big that you need to move out anyway, a new home might be a more straightforward option here.
  5. Living in the 70s – Many owners who take the upgrade path want to modernise their homes. They’re fed up with the rabbit-warren design of small, disconnected rooms and yearn for open-plan living, plus a new kitchen and bathroom. Making such fundamental changes are expensive, and it is worth checking out the prices of more modern homes nearby before going ahead with a renovation. That will help you understand the value that you’re adding.
  6. Dead space – Poor design can result in some rooms being ignored, either because of their size or their position relative to the main living areas. Real estate is not cheap, so this is very wasteful. If fixing the problem is difficult, finding a new, better-designed property will pay off for you financially in the medium to long-term while also helping you take the next step on the property ladder.
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