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Four reasons to consider buying a bigger home

Dear Heather

We bought a starter home about four years ago. We don’t really need a bigger house as we only have one child and a dog. But we have been fortunate financially with our careers, should we consider getting a bigger home?

Moving forward

Dear Moving forward

I know “the starter home” was so cute, quaint and sweet when you bought it; and you put your heart and soul into fixing it up to suit your taste. But, a lot can change in four years, including your child and dog; and overnight quests and holiday dinners that require mathematician-level logistics to finding everyone a seat in a dining room that bursts at six people. In truth, it is probably time to move up. Lack of space is the number one reason people start looking for a larger home.

Families expand, lifestyles change, and the sheer accumulation of stuff can make a small home feel even tighter. But running out of room is not the only reason to consider moving up.

You’ve got the equity

You may have had to scrimp and save for the down payment on your first home. But, if your home has appreciated through your improvements, you may be in a completely different financial position this time around.

If you’re the type who envisions paying off your home and being free and clear, moving up may not be on your mind.

But, alternatively having equity in your current home means that you can leverage greater buying power to buy something bigger or closer to town, the beaches or in a prime location.

You would like more “alone” space

Feeling cramped, living with clutter and hating that you don’t have a space of your own or a minute to yourself? This can create stress and leave you feeling edgy.

Your home is supposed to be your sanctuary. Having some extra room to spread out and a yard for entertaining friends, children and pets can make a real difference in the way your family functions.

The lack of a guest room means that when family visits, you’re under each other’s feet. Whatever it might be, if your quality of life is not improving when your income is, and you could afford to buy up comfortably, it may be time to review.

Remodelling is price prohibitive

A good real estate agent should be able to give you an idea of what necessary (or wanted) renovations would cost to your existing home.

It could be that the amount of work you would need to do on your current home to get it where you want it — or get it into tip-top shape for a sale — is beyond what you want to spend.

In that case, it might make better financial sense to make small improvements, put it up for sale, and put your money into a new home that better suits your needs.

You don’t want to over-improve for the neighbourhood

The other important factor to consider when deciding whether to move or improve your home is how the upgraded home would fit in your neighbourhood.

You don’t want to run the risk of doing a bunch of expensive renovations only to have the home sit on the market because it’s considered overpriced, for the area.

Weighing against renovation is the risk you’ll “over-improve” your home compared with others in the neighbourhood.

When you are in a neighbourhood that has starter homes and smaller lots, adding a large addition or doing an extensive renovation may not yield the return one would expect. For instance you may use up precious yard space, that a lot of first time home buyers are looking for.

You’ve crunched the numbers

Presumably, a move-up home is going to be more expensive. Beyond the equity you can use to make the purchase work, you also have to consider the increase in monthly expenses.

It’s not just the price of the house; it’s the long-term costs associated with it. When you go up (in square footage), you get higher property taxes, higher utilities, and more maintenance.

Talk to your banker to be sure that you can afford a move-up home without becoming house poor. There are also many online affordability calculators that can help you work out how far you can stretch your dollar.

Ready to move? Contact a Real Estate Agent that you can trust.

Heather Chilvers is among Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty’s Leading Sales Agents. She has been working in Real Estate for nearly 30 years. Follow ‘Ask Heather Chilvers Real Estate’ on Face Book, and ‘heatherrealtorbermuda’ on Instagram

If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at hchilvers@brcl.bm or 332 1793. All questions will be treated confidentially