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You’ve been looking at homes but just haven’t seen one with all the features you want, so you’re thinking of buying and remodeling. With today’s large inventory, and competitive prices, would that money be well spent? Or should you keep looking? Here are some points to consider.

1. What professionals can advise you?

Call in an architect when an addition is being considered or major interior work is to be tackled, such as moving walls, stairs, or windows. Have a contractor offer input regarding materials and labor costs for these major undertakings. A designer may be the best person to call if the work is more cosmetic, such as changing wall colors, tiles, or countertops. A specialist such as a structural engineer might be best for advice relating to specific problems like a cracked foundation.

2. What will the project cost?

Most professionals have done enough projects to estimate the final price tag, based on square footage, materials, appliances, level of finish, custom cabinets or stock, and labor. The best experts also will tell you to set aside funds for unforeseen problems, such as decaying joists or possible pest damage.

3. What is your time frame for living in the house?

The cost of remodeling becomes more sensible if amortized over a longer time frame, and you stay (or plan to stay) in your new home at least five years. The higher costs associated with major renovations, like kitchens and baths, will take longer to recoup.

4. Will the cost be supported by other homes in the area?

Here’s where the expertise of a Coldwell Banker salesperson about comparable sales and values in the neighborhood is invaluable. You, as buyers, need to know that the improvements you will make are warranted for the house, and reflected in the value of neighboring homes. You don’t want to own a property over-improved for the surrounding homes. Investments also should be made only when area prices are stable or appreciating, which is not the case in many areas in early 2010.

5. Are you willing to be inconvenienced?

Camping out and using a makeshift kitchen in a basement is fun only for so long. You should decide how long you are willing to be inconvenienced – if you plan to live in the home during construction.

6. Is remodeling the best use of your funds?

Only you can decide your long-term investment goals, but be honest with yourself about whether the changes are where you really want to invest your money. Would you rather buy a house, avoid changes, and spend discretionary dollars on vacations, save for retirement, save for a larger down payment for a more expensive home? This decision should be made with your financial goals foremost in mind.

Come in and talk with a Coldwell Banker agent. We can advise you on the market, recommend local professionals, and help you make these important decisions.