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Purchasing a home in New York City doesn’t come cheap and neither does renovating. If you’re fortunate enough to have bought property in the city ‘back in the day’ when prices were more affordable (all relative, by the way), you might have outgrown your apartment by now. Or, perhaps you’d like to live in a different neighborhood or borough –– a place that’s more convenient to your job, family, or the friends you’ve made over the years. Whatever the reason, sometimes moving is necessary or desired.
In either of the scenarios mentioned above, you’ll have to decide if you should stick with your present digs and make improvements or move on to something bigger and better. And so, “Should I stay, or cash in?” is probably crossing your mind.
Ask yourself these six questions during the process and hopefully by the end, you’ll know if you should wear your home improvement hat or start packing.
1. Is your reason a good enough reason to sell and move on?
Mostly likely, a job is not a reason to move. Most positions don’t last forever, and you could find yourself working in yet another part of town in a few years. If you have your heart set on a different neighborhood –– perhaps for more convenient transportation, better nightlife, or to be closer to family –– then think about moving.
If you’re maxed out on space –– you’re living in a one-bedroom with two kids and a third is on the way –– I’d say there’s no time like the present to get a bigger place.
2. Is it a good time to sell?
If you’re looking to sell right now, the answer is an obvious, “Yes,” since it’s a seller’s market. But markets fluctuate, and selling a year from now could not be so profitable. Talk to a real estate professional before you decide whether to cash in. He or she will also be able to give you an idea of how much you should expect to get for your apartment.
3. How long do I plan to stay in New York?
If you do indeed decide to buy a different apartment, consider the prices now, because to see a worthwhile profit, you’ll probably need to live in the unit for a minimum of 5-10 years, if not longer. If you can’t answer that question, you might want to stay put and remodel, or choose to rent until you figure out if you’ll hang around the city for a while longer.
4. Do I need more space, or can I work with what I’ve got?
If space isn’t an issue, renovating might be the better choice, especially if you purchased your apartment for a song in 1987. Yes, you’ll experience the hassle of construction, but you’ll also get to customize your pad and make it close to or exactly what you want. Bear in mind –– when purchasing, you’ll never find every item on your wish list in one property.
5. Financially, can I afford to move?
Not only does moving present logistical challenges in a city like New York, but even if you reap a huge profit when you sell your apartment, your monthly payment including mortgage, maintenance, and perhaps taxes, will probably be higher than what you’ve been paying. Ultimately, will you be able to afford it?
6. If I renovate, where will I live during construction?
Staying in your apartment might be the logical choice, but you’ll need to find somewhere to live during the remodel. Do you have friends or family willing to put you up for a few months or longer? If not, renting or subletting another unit is an additional expense you’ll need to account for. It’s best to stay as close to your project so you can check in on the progress almost daily.