Whether you are looking to age in place, finding the perfect home for your growing family or you are at any stage in between, don’t rush to put up a For Sale sign, when you can remodel your existing home!

All too often, homeowners have been told that they need to downsize as they age to remain in their homes longer. At first glance, this seems like sage advice, with all the television shows, magazine articles and more showcasing the move toward smaller, more functional homes. Yet when you consider the hidden costs of moving, you might do far better to remodel your existing home. (And this applies not just to homeowners who are aging, but to young families looking for their forever homes as well!)

Here’s a common situation that we’ve run across as of late. Charlotte homeowners who have been in their homes for 15, 20 or even more years are looking to move closer in to either the Uptown or SouthPark areas. However, as our housing market has bounced back, home values in desirable areas have climbed. Those in the most coveted areas – closer to Uptown or Southpark– have skyrocketed, regardless of their condition. That means that if you are buying in one of these locations, you’ll most likely have to pay top dollar for a home and leave room in your budget for remodeling and repairs.

This scenario is further complicated if you haven’t updated your existing home that’s located further out in the suburbs. Buyers in these outlying areas are looking for updated homes. They want something that is move-in ready and expect to see updates to what would be the dated kitchens and baths and boxy layouts commonly found in 20-30 year old homes. Just think about the outdated and poorly functioning kitchen layouts and appliances, drop soffits, built-in desks, outdated countertop materials, lack of prep space and poor lighting common in older kitchens; the small showers and stand-alone tubs in older bathrooms; and the formal living and dining room areas – not to mention the energy-inefficient two-story living spaces – that were so popular in the 1990s.

While we highly advocate remodeling dated homes of this era to get them up to today’s standards, it’s an expense that you might not recover if you plan on remodeling solely for the sake of an immediate sale. The reason is that you are not just incurring the cost of the remodel – you’re incurring all of the additional expenses associated with a move. That includes paying Realtor commissions, appraisal fees, legal fees, inspection fees, closing costs, moving costs and more. Pair those expenses with the premium prices associated with homes in desirable areas and your bottom line may look even worse. Thinking about selling your existing home “as is” instead? One Realtor we talked with confirmed that when people don’t modernize their homes and then try to sell at a top price, the homes generally stay on the market way too long and then sell at a substantial discount. (One she cited in an area of homes typically priced from $500,000-$700,000 stayed on the market for an entire year before selling for $100,000 below the listing price.)

So what can you do? If you love (or can live with) your home’s location, seriously consider remodeling instead of moving. One couple we recently talked with found themselves in this situation. They hadn’t done much to update their 20-year old home, but it had solid bones, including a downstairs master suite and great interior space, in a location where they could envision future appreciation. For them, remodeling is a solid option because it’s an investment – both in their home’s future value and in the way they want to live today. They will be able to enjoy the financial and emotional return on the money they’ll spend, plus they can remodel their home to be exactly what they want it to be – not what they imagine some buyer might be seeking and what they will be forced to live with until their home sells. So whether you are looking to age in place, find the perfect home for your growing family or you are at any stage in between, don’t rush to put up a For Sale sign before you let a qualified, professional remodeler help you envision your home’s possibilities.