Is it time to renovate or relocate?

Lower interest rates don’t always mean that homeowners should upgrade to bigger and better properties. If they have built up substantial equity in their homes, it may be time to access some of it and make alternations or improvements instead.

That way, many believe, they can have a bigger and better home without having to go to the trouble and expense of moving.

However, says Martin Schultheiss, CEO of Harcourts Africa, homeowners should seek expert advice about home values and growth prospects in their area before making a final “renovate or relocate” decision.

“You need to be very careful not to overcapitalise. Prices in many areas are still at a low ebb following the recession, which might make it difficult to recoup your renovation expenditure if you suddenly had to change your plans and sell.

“And in any case most neighbourhoods will only support prices up to a certain level. After that, potential buyers with more money will be most likely be looking at a more expensive area, so if your home is already at the upper end of the price range for its area, you should probably move rather than spend any more on it.”

Schultheiss says homeowners also need to make sure that any changes they plan will comply with municipal regulations, that additions will match the style and décor of the original building and that any alterations make sense.

“You don’t want to end up with a four or five bedrooms and just one bathroom, for example, or spacious new reception rooms contrasting with a cramped, outdated kitchen.”

And lastly, he says, you must take into account the inconvenience and discomfort of living in a home while renovating it. “It is really only worth putting up with this if you plan to stay on in your home long enough after the work is finished to enjoy the improvements you’ve made.”

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