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Remodel or Move: What’s Best for My Ann Arbor Home

If your home isn’t working for your family anymore, deciding whether it’s best to remodel or move can be a tough decision. On one hand, you love your home and might be intimidated by the thought of buying in Ann Arbor’s competitive market. On the other, a remodel can seem like a long, daunting process. If you’ve been going back and forth on the decision to remodel or move, this blog is for you.

Here, we’ll break down the basics of both options, the pros and cons of remodeling and moving, and the costs associated with either decision. Let’s start with a list of key factors to consider when deciding whether a move or a remodel is best for you.

Remodel or Move: The Basics

When it comes to making the decision to remodel or move, it’s never cut and dry. There’s no picture-perfect scenario that will make the decision easy for you, but there are a few reasons that many homeowners opt to remodel or move.

Remodeling might be the best option for you if:

  • You love your location (and your neighbors!)

  • Your home has good bones but isn’t laid out well or the space you have isn’t functioning well for you

  • You are attached to your home’s style and character

  • You’re ready to make an update to an outdated home

  • You know there are better ways to make use of your existing space

  • You have been planning a big home project for a while, but have had bad experiences with contractors in the past and are nervous to finally get the ball rolling

If you love your home and location but are ready to make changes to the space you have, remodeling your home in Ann Arbor might be the best option.

Moving is likely the best option if:

  • You don’t love your neighborhood

  • There’s just not enough buildable space in your home or on your lot to get the square footage you’re looking for

  • It’s unlikely that you could ever renovate the home in a way that would suit your lifestyle

  • Your neighborhood won’t bear the cost of the renovations you’re planning, or you’re considering moving in the next few years

If there’s just no way to make the home work for you, or if you’re not enamored with your neighborhood and location, moving might be a better fit for your family.

These basics offer guidelines to get you started on the decision-making process. Next, we’ll break down the costs associated with each option, as well as the pros and cons of remodeling and moving.

Remodel or Move: What Are the Costs?

No matter what your budget, you will want to know which option will work best for your family, and while cost isn’t always the most important factor, it is an element to consider. Let’s look at the costs associated with remodeling vs moving.

The Cost of Remodeling Your Ann Arbor Home

There are so many factors that can dramatically affect what can be done to your home and, in turn, will affect the cost of a remodel.

  • Has your home been designated as Historic by the Ann Arbor HDC?

  • Are you in a floodplain?

  • Are there structural or foundation issues with your home?

  • If you’re planning to add on, are there setback requirements on your lot?

  • If the lot is small or on a street that has difficult access, how would construction/delivery vehicles get to your home?

If you’re planning to add on, reconfigure floor plans, or totally update an older home, know that you could spend $200,000 or more fairly easily.

The Cost of Moving to a New Ann Arbor Home

Moving also has its costs. If you love the area you’re in, you’re unlikely to find a similar property for what you spent on your current home. The high demand for property, especially here in Ann Arbor, has significantly increased in the last few years. Expect that you will pay more for what you are looking for than what it cost when you purchased your existing home.

In addition, there are costs associated with buying, selling, moving, and financing when you move from one home to another and these should also be factored into the equation. Sellers can expect to pay up to 10% of the selling price in real estate commissions and other fees. For buying a home, plan on a typical range of 2-5% of the purchase price for closing costs. Moving adds even more to the list of expenses.

Remodeling Your Ann Arbor Home: The Pros and Cons

Remodeling is a great option for many Ann Arbor families. If you love your home, your neighbors, and your location — even if it’s not perfect for your family — it can be hard to say goodbye. Here’s a look at the pros and cons that come with remodeling:

The Pros

  • Stay in your neighborhood. If you love your neighbors and your location, remodeling means you don’t have to give up what you love — it will make it even better!

  • Stay in the home you love. It’s also important to consider the emotional component of homeownership. If you love your home, remodeling means you get to stay in the house you call home while making upgrades to ensure that the house grows with you as your family’s needs change.

  • You know your home. You already know all there is to know about your home, which means there are no surprises. You know what works and what doesn’t work, what doors don’t shut properly, what stair creaks a bit, and more. Your remodel will only work to fix those quirks you don’t love, rather than introducing you to a new home with a list of unknowns.

  • A design that’s perfect for you. One of the biggest positives of a great home remodel is that you get to make all of the decisions. If your home hasn’t been working for you, a remodel is your chance to tailor its new design to your unique vision for the home.

The Cons

  • Time. A remodel — especially an extensive remodel like a complete first-floor renovation or an addition —  isn’t a quick project that will be done in a few weeks. While your home is under construction, you may have to move temporarily. If you decide to stay in the home, remember that you could be living in a construction zone for some time.

  • Cost. Depending upon the extent of your Ann Arbor home renovation, you might end up spending just as much on your remodel as you would buying and moving to another home — especially if you are thinking about doing a major addition. If you love your existing home and plan on staying there for a while, then getting the perfect location and the perfect home will be well worth it.

  • Can your neighborhood support your renovation plans? If you’re planning to make significant upgrades, you’ll want to ensure that they are upgrades your neighborhood can support. You don’t want to renovate your home to the point that its value is significantly higher than other houses in the area. Ann Arbor has historically seen above-average appreciation in property values, so if you are planning to stay in the home for 5-10 years, you will see a good return on your investment.

Moving: The Pros and Cons

If you’re considering moving, but want to make sure you’ve looked at that decision from every angle, here are the most common pros and cons that come with moving to a new home.

The Pros

  • A fresh, new-to-you home. If your family is looking for a change, moving to a new home can be the fresh start you’re seeking. You’ll have the opportunity to explore a new neighborhood, and if your current home is far from your work, school, or family, moving is an opportunity to find that closer location.

  • The process can be faster. Another positive of moving is that you get to move right into your new home. While you may have to wait for the sale to close, as soon as it does, your family can move right in.

  • The home you want, without the work. If you’re moving, you have the opportunity to choose the home that’s right for you from the get-go. If you can find a home that suits your family, you won’t have to put time, effort, and cost into the design and construction of a remodel.

The Cons

  • The Ann Arbor real estate market is competitive. If you already live in the Ann Arbor area, it’s important to recognize you may not get a home in your ideal neighborhood. Desirable neighborhoods fill up quickly, and houses don’t often become available. If you’re planning to buy a home in the area, you’ll probably have to consider a few different neighborhoods, and you may not find your ideal home in your top-choice neighborhood.

  • You’ll have to move. Moving can be a stressful process. While remodeling has its own drawbacks, moving means packing up everything you own into boxes, and shipping it across town. If you already like where you live, justifying a stressful move might feel overwhelming.

  • Moving still takes time. While moving might seem like a faster, easier option, it’s good to remember that it still takes time. You’ll need to find a home, make an offer, and wait for the closing process to go through, which often takes 90 days or more on its own. Then, you’ll need to list and sell your own home. If you’re looking for a fast option, it’s important to remember that neither a remodel nor a move will happen overnight.

  • There are costs involved.  Packing and moving — even when you do it yourself is time-consuming and costly. In addition, there are realtor fees involved with selling your home, and don’t forget all of the closing costs associated with purchasing and financing a new home. Finally, many people choose to do small upgrades that make a new house feel like home. Replacing carpets and repainting are additional costs to consider.

Remodel or Move: Making a Confident Decision

Making the choice between starting a remodel or moving to a new home is not an easy decision. Your choice will ultimately come down to your priorities. Do you love your current home, its character, and your neighborhood? Or are you looking for a fresh start?

If you’re having a hard time making a choice, it’s always best to talk to a professional:

  • Get in touch with a realtor you trust to provide you information on what you’d expect to spend on the type of home you’re looking for in your ideal neighborhoods.

  • Ask a professional contractor or design-build firm for help visualizing what a remodel might look like and what it could cost.

The best way to make a confident decision is to gather all of the information available to you. When you have a clear comparison between what a remodel vs a move looks like for your Ann Arbor home, you’ll be able to make the decision that’s best for your family.

Talking to a professional can help you realize all of the options that are available to you — sometimes a creative, outside of the box solution is what you need! If you’re ready to start a conversation about remodeling your Ann Arbor home, talk to the team at Meadowlark Design + Build. We’d be happy to answer your questions.


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