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Move or improve: It's a seller's market out there

Move or improve: It's a seller's market out there


It's an age old question.

Should we sell our home or stick around and make improvements?

The answer is never easy as people become attached to their homes and sometimes find not-so-rational reasons to stay rather than move on.

According to Ross Martin in an online article for The Zebra, 60 percent of Americans agree that moving is the most stressful life event.

But he asks, is living in a construction zone any easier?

According to Martin, if you’re a homeowner and you’re struggling with your current living situation, you have two options: to renovate or move.

There’s a lot to consider when making that decision, from your financial situation to how it impacts your home insurance, to the current market.

When given extra funds and a choice between the two, the article states that 76 percent of Americans said they would rather upgrade their current home than put a down payment on a new one — but that doesn’t mean renovating is always the smarter option.

A number of factors impact whether scheduling renovations or buying a new home is the best financial and emotional decision for you and your family.

In the current real estate market, the answer to that troubling question has become much clearer.

"Now is the perfect time to sell your home," said Diana Symonds, the 2021 president of the Greater Mason City Board of Realtors and Mason City Multiple Listing Service. "We are experiencing a seller’s market, which means the number of ready, willing, and available buyers exceeds the number of available homes for sale."

Symonds said the housing market is moving at a fast pace, and that "these seemingly unprecedented market conditions" exist due to numerous factors.

"First and foremost, low interest rates," she said. "Stimulus payments may have also played a role in first time home buyers being able to save money for down payments. Iowa’s unemployment rate is also much lower than the U.S. average unemployment rate."

According to the article in The Zebra, there are four things to consider before you decide to renovate or move:

Both moving and renovating can be stressful, costly, and time-consuming. Consider your answer to the four questions below before you decide what the best decision is for your family.

1. Cost: Is it cheaper to renovate or move?

For many Americans, cost is a major factor in home improvement decisions. Whether or not it’s cheaper to renovate or sell depends on your current mortgage situation, as well as how much money you have in savings. Renovations come with immediate, out-of-pocket expenses, whereas moving can put money in your pocket now but cost you a lot more down the line.

2. Emotional attachment: What will you miss about your home?

You and your family may be even more attached to your home than you realize. It may be the place your daughter took her first step, or the last place you saw an ailing grandparent. Consider these emotional implications, both on you and your other family members, before you decide whether you are ready for the stress of moving (and it will be stressful!).

3. Timing: Is the timing right for you and your family?

Not only is moving stressful, it also isn’t always feasible or rational given other life events happening to you and your family members. Consider that moving may mean changing school districts, commute routes, and mortgage costs.

Keep in mind that renovating your house comes with immediate expenses, with the average home remodel costing $46,503. If you are setting money aside for college savings or other finances, can you afford a costly renovation right now, or would it make sense to take advantage of your equity and sell for extra cash?

4. Real estate market: Is it a good time to sell?

Even if it is cheaper for you to move as opposed to renovating, will you be getting the most out of your investment? Do some research about market conditions before you list your home. There are also seasonal house selling trends to consider. Homes typically sell faster in spring and summer, and they’re more likely to sell at or above the asking price.

Symonds said that the real estate market in North Iowa is strong. Realtors have seen an increase in the total number of sales reported year-over-year to date in Mason City and surrounding areas.

"We’re also seeing a slight increase in the number of homes being listed for sale, although inventory is still lower than last year," she said. "This is a trend being reported both state and nationwide."

Amber Scholl, executive officer for the Greater Mason City Board of Realtors and Mason City Multiple Listing Service, said that low interest rates are playing a key role in home sales.

"Buyers tend to see the long-term benefits of saving money over time when interest rates are low, making home buying desirable," she said.

And if that is the route you decide to go, Scholl said that you should consider a Realtor to sell your home because are held accountable for their ethical behavior and business practices, and belong to the nation’s largest professional trade organization. They work to protect the public by advocating for home ownership and private property rights.

"Realtors are trained experts in their field," she said. "They have access to industry leading education, technology products, programs, and have top of the line data analytic tools at their fingertips to assist home buyers and sellers from the beginning of the transaction to closing day and beyond."

Jerry Smith is sports editor and special projects editor for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at or by phone at 641-421-0556. 


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