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360 HOME LIVING: What Can Make You “Love it or List it”

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If you’ve seen the HGTV series “Love It or List It,” you know many episodes end with participants loving their remodeled home as opposed to listing it. On each episode, the show leaders often solve only a portion of what the owners don’t like or aren’t getting from their existing home. So, why do so many choose to stay? The satisfaction of that one project may serve as the push they need to get going! After waiting many years, now that the job – or part of it - is finally done, they decide they can enjoy their home again. Once you see that your dream home is coming together, why spend all that money to let someone else enjoy it?

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When you ask a mother if she really remembers the pain and stress of childbirth, most likely the answer is yes, but she would do it again. Why? Because of the lifelong rewarding experience it results in. Not that renovating a home could even come close to childbirth, but it is a good, exaggerated illustration of why the stressful months of dust, debris and uncomfortable living conditions of a remodel shouldn’t scare you away from transforming your house into your dream home.

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Addition by AV Architects + Builders to a 1954 Farm House in Great Falls, VA Many things motivate people to remodel or move into a new home. In either case, there’s an investment of time and effort and sometimes painful consequences. Both paths offer a promising solution to finding the home of your dreams. The best part in this situation is that you can decide which one suits you best.

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Let’s talk about those motivations and what makes people change or move their home, which may help you consider alternative solutions before you start thinking about loving it or listing it.

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Outgrowing space. Living space needs change over time. You are no longer a newlywed couple with a nightlife on the urban scene. You are no longer one or two. Many first time parents start thinking about moving or remodeling with their first child. Either the amount of space in no longer sufficient, the floor plan of the house is not suitable for a baby, or the home is not baby friendly (steep stairs, rails, no nursery, etc.).

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For young homeowners is considering major remodeling is not an option, assuming that –with a new member of the family- they will eventually have to move. I’d say, you should consider the possibility of working on your house sooner and staying! Considering an addition or a remodeling project may add value to your home and allow you to enjoy it longer.

Homeowners often forget that successfully selling a house often requires a few repairs or upgrades to your home anyway. Most realtors will ask you to paint, repair and remodel a few things here and there– depending on the state of the house- before they will even list it. All those projects you never finished, or never had time to do, will have to get done before you list the property. The same things that bother you, will bother the new owners. No one wants to buy a house in bad shape and there’s also a high probability that the work you do may go unappreciated. So, consider staying! A good remodeling/renovating plan may buy you a few happy years and, most likely, will add value to your home.

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Downsizing. The Washington Post recently published an article about the influence of empty nesters on the building industry. We’ve seen this happening for quite a while. Once parents send the kids to college, what you need from your home, and how it functions for you, will change. The article explained, empty nesters often consider moving or making a change to their existing home. Around this time different interests and lifestyle changes start to emerge. Health will play a big role in the decision to move or remodel, as well. Keeping in mind “what works for you now and for the future” is important. If you’re in your late 50s-60s, you may be more comfortable in a home with the main rooms located on ground level- less going up and down stairs. The same idea applies for the laundry room. Other considerations on whether to move or remodel during this time of transition may include proximity to certain businesses, amenities and events; a sense of being part of a community with similar interests; or a home or lot that requires less maintenance.

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One of the conclusions of the Post article is that there are few homes in the Washington, DC area that fulfill all those requirements. While the building industry catches up, it is important to think about alternatives. The limited availability of unique properties, with potential to be transformed to meet these new needs, puts homeowners in a good position. Approach architects/builders directly and offer to sell them your property for renovation. You can search your area for new projects and contact the builders to start the conversation and explore the possibilities. Builders make calls to home owners to ask about selling interests in areas where they are building, why shouldn’t you call them and offer your home if you’re ready to make a change?

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If you decide to move, a call to an architect/builder may also save you a few headaches. Working with the experts even before you choose a lot or a home can make the process less stressful and much more successful.

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Inconvenient floor plan. Older homes are cozy at first sight and if you live in one, you probably love the look and personality of the house. Older homes were built around different needs, usually featuring smaller and more formal rooms than today’s homes. You have three options here: 1. Keep the plan and embrace preservation; 2.Keep the outside frame and work on a transitional plan to create a more functional floor plan that fits your needs and style; 3. Move.

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This 1954 farm house had the charm and the neighborhood, but a very small and enclosed kitchen for a family of four.

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Neighborhood or School Change. This is one of the biggest motivations for families to move to a new home. And we can’t do much to change that! Parents will move to find family friendly neighborhoods and good school districts. Consider working with an architect/builder to build a new home in the area you desire that will ultimately meet your future needs. You don’t want to find yourself moving again in search for your dream home.

Looking at the reasons why people ask themselves if they are going to "Love It Or List It", you may see some of the same challenges in your future. Whether you choose to move or stay, meeting with an architect/builder now may help you make the best choice for you, your family and your future. Consider all of your options – all of the consequences. Think about all the rewarding feeling of finally living in your dream home. Whether that means remodeling your house and “loving it” or “listing it” to build a new house that matches your dreams and your lifestyle.