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Should you move or improve?

Should you move or improve?

An important question many homeowners face at some point is should they ‘do it up’ or ‘sell it on’?

The most common reason for wanting to move home is the desire for more space and an improved quality of life.  Of course, if you have to sell up due to divorce or a new job, moving might simply be unavoidable.  But if not, what are some of the pros and cons of each option?

Moving pros and cons

Location – A new property might have better schools, or is closer to work, or perhaps opposite a park if you learn for green space but live in a city.

Space – You might be desperate for an extra bedroom or room for a home office. Whatever the reason, sometimes an existing home simply doesn’t have the space for you to reconfigure it how you’d like.

Can’t face the chaos – Having serious building work done on a home you live in can take months, and involved a huge about of dust and disruption. There’s also a slight risk in that the work might go wrong and problems are uncovered that you didn’t know were there.

Take advantage of low interest rates – It might be that your finances have improved and you can afford a bigger mortgage. So it could be that you can buy your ‘forever’ home and lock in to historically extremely low interest rates.

Unavoidable cost – There are unavoidable costs involved with moving which is simply ‘dead’ money.

Stamp duty on a home costing £400,000 would be £10,000, for example. Solicitors, surveys and moving company fees can add thousands on top of that.

Improving pros and cons

You like where you are – You might love the neighbourhood you live in and have friends and family very close by. You get to keep all that by simply staying and improving.

You don’t like where you are – Conversely, you might love your home, but not like the neighbourhood. If so, you’re possibly in for some sleepless nights making your ‘move or improve’ decision!

Improving can add lots of value – A kitchen extension and new loft bedroom with ensuite might typically cost you between £70,000 and £90,000, but if you were to buy a similar-sized property to your improved home, you might have to pay a lot more than the cost of the work.

Avoid paying ‘dead money’ – As already mentioned in the pros and cons of moving, by staying put and renovating you avoid paying stamp duty, solicitors fees and moving company costs.

It’s done to your taste – Nearly anyone who moves finds there’s something that they want to change about their new home. However, by renovating where you are you get to choose the lay out and items being put in place, such as type of kitchen or bathroom.

The chaos and filth – As anyone knows who has had serious building work done, it creates a great deal more filth, noise and disruption than you had ever imagined. If you have to live through it, especially if you have small children, it can put great strain on family life.

Mortgage difficulties – Lenders have tightened up their lending rules and if what you earn each year has changed since you last renewed your mortgage, it might be that you couldn’t port your mortgage to a new home anyway, so remaining in your existing home might be your only option.

Risk – If you pick the right builder, the chance of anything going wrong should be very small, but does unfortunately exist. You should always tell your insurer well before building work starts what you’re having done so they can adjust your home insurance policy if necessary to ensure you’re covered during the process.

Before you take the plunge…

It can be a good idea to write down the pluses and minuses of your situation and talk them carefully through with your partner and friends and family.

Also speak to estate agents, builders and financial advisors that you trust about your plans to see which might be more worthwhile financially – it could be that the building work costs £80,000 but moving to a new home of the right type only costs £60,000 more, or vice versa, for example.

Whichever route you take, and no matter how stressful you find it, step back from time to time and remind yourself how lucky you are to be a homeowner the UK’s current housing market in the first place!

Policy Expert

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Published 16th May 2019