Knowing when to stay in your home - and when to go | Kanebridge News
Kanebridge News
Share Button

Knowing when to stay in your home – and when to go

If living your best life is on your 2023 to-do list, it might be time to consider a change of address

By Jeremy Stevens
Wed, Jan 4, 2023 9:37amGrey Clock 4 min

You’ve been successfully climbing the property ladder, leapfrogging towards the prized dream home. But lifestyle or family circumstances can change and a volatile market can make choosing between renovating or moving unclear. Do you take the renovation plunge? Or just avoid potential pitfalls and for peace of mind – and your hip pocket – simply seek that ready-to-go turnkey dream house instead?  

Carl Wilson from Home Estate Agents has been a Sydney realtor for 35 years. He’s well acquainted with this dilemma. 

“They’re at a crossroads,” he says. “Houses are around but they’re price prohibitive. Any reasonable free-standing house in Sydney’s east is $3m upwards – even semis are attracting $2.5-3m.” 

Despite a recent downturn, he says there has been price growth everywhere from Brisbane and Melbourne to Sydney. 

“There was a completely rundown Coogee semi that sold in 2020 for $3.75m, now on the market after reno for $5.5m – but then, they’ve spent $2m on it.” 

So, is the ‘renovate or move up’ conundrum more about growing family needs or profit potential? Wilson agrees that families requiring more space is often the overriding motivation. 

COVID, living and material cost rises have shifted peoples’ expectations even more. 

“All of those are a determining factor and they are deterrents to renovating,” he says. “Plus, there’s the DA process, compliance, build-time blowouts, unforeseen added cost – it’s two years of pain.”

It might seen reasonable for investors, Wilson says, but it’s not so much fun if you’re living in your family home as it’s renovated. 

“It can destroy marriages,” he says. “A turnkey might be $1million up on where they are but at least there’s certainty.”

Read more stories like this in Kanebridge Quarterly magazine. Order your copy or subscribe today here

Building cost increases have also taken their toll. 

“Five years ago you could renovate a semi for $300,000 to $400,000 but it’s now $1million and potentially $2 million,” he says. “There’s also the issue of pricing by postcode. The overcharging of clients in affluent areas is a reality. 

“Alternatively, longtime city residents may sell out and buy up or down the coast. But now, NSW coastal houses worth $400,000 a decade ago can now be $1.5m. 

“Ready-to-go residences are becoming a necessity, but there’s never enough around.”   

To further muddy the waters, chances are it’s probably going to get worse. The pandemic has given people that didn’t previously have the money more capital, says Wilson. They accessed superaunnuation and halted spending on travel, new cars or entertainment. Plus, lockdowns and families all stuck at home together has given people pause.

 “When COVID hit, some moved out of units into houses to alleviate living pressures,” he says. “Now, they’re moving back into units but craving the extra space.”

Builder Gregg Jowett from iRenov8 has been in the industry for 33 years, building from the ground up, managing reality TV builds. He now focuses primarily on bespoke renovations mainly in Sydney’s east and inner west. 

“My typical clients are married parents of younger children, remortgaging because they’ve invested so much equity in their property,” he says. “My builds are a combination of creating more space, as well as purely aesthetic work. I do three to four jobs a year, typically six to eight months each. 

He says most of his clients are on their second property, renovating and staying put for a while. 

“There’s two types,” Wilson says. “One has renovated before and they tend to trust us completely. But to those new to renos, it’s never as streamlined as they think. They watch lifestyle TV shows and think they can do a lot themselves.” 

He says COVID  gave people pause to consider their options. 

“It’s about finding the right builder/architect combo,” he says. “Some people don’t spend money on decent architectural drawings, but they’ve still got to get through council and the ambiguity makes it hard for builders.”

Hector Abbott is a commercial property developer living in his third property since starting a family. He upgraded from a semi to a four-bedroom, freestanding home in Coogee eight years ago, a 1920s cottage that had been fully-renovated by an owner/builder. “He lived in it for a decade before we found it,” he says. “We needed more space to accommodate our teenage daughters. We searched for two years, coming across several houses that ticked boxes but not enough. When you have to donate a six-figure sum to stamp duty, it’s not a decision made lightly.”

The thought of renovating as opposed to buying a turnkey held no appeal at all.

“I work from home,” he says. “I need an office and being disrupted whilst in a renovation, or renting another property while overseeing a build, is too much to contemplate. 

“That said, four years ago we did an exterior renovation. We repainted the house, landscaped and rebuilt a pergola.”

The endgame for Abbott was always about a long-term abode. 

“I’ve no desire to own a $25m mansion,” he says. “The house is centrally located. The kids have grown up here and we have no desire to downsize. Investment return was never an issue, even though this area is bulletproof. Why on earth leave?”


Can’t decide whether to move or improve? Ask yourself these questions

Do you love where you live? If the kids are in school or there’s a great sense of community, staying where you are and renovating may offer a better lifestyle for everyone

What are house prices doing? If property prices in your area have risen significantly and you’re looking to downsize, or you’re after a seachange, you could sell up and unlock some of the equity in your property

Is your place unlivable? This means different things to different people – it may be too small, too old or too rundown. If you’re thinking of renovating, consider the rising costs of building materials and access to trades

Will selling and buying cost you more? ‘Dead money’ like stamp duty could be ploughed into a renovation. Check what costs you may be up for before making a final decision


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

Related Stories
Residential building approvals on the rebound
Tougher Return-to-Office Policies Are No Remedy for Half-Empty Buildings
By PETER GRANT 04/10/2023
Interest rates stay on hold – for now
Residential building approvals on the rebound

The construction sector is roaring back to life in some Australian states while others languish in the doldrums

Wed, Oct 4, 2023 < 1 min

The home building market is on the rebound as building approvals rise, new data reveals.

Information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that the total number of dwellings approved in August was up 7 percent seasonally adjusted, with apartments leading the way.

Private sector house approvals gained 5.8 percent in August while private sector residences excluding houses were up 9.4 percent. This follows on from a decrease of 14.6 percent in July and indicates a solid recovery in the Australian construction sector as the end of the year approaches.  

Approvals for total dwellings were strongest in the two largest states, with Victoria recording a rise of 22.2 percent and NSW 12.5 percent. Western Australia also saw a significant rise of 12.3 percent.

In Queensland, the results were less positive for the sector, with total dwelling approvals falling by -26.9 percent. Tasmania also experienced a drop in approvals in August, down -10.1 percent and South Australia -6.9 percent.


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

Related Stories
Inflation trends upwards ahead of RBA meeting
The Sustainable Living issue
By Kanebridge News Staff 21/09/2023
Claude Monet Water Lily Painting, Never Shown Publicly, Could Fetch at Least $65 Million
By ABBY SCHULTZ 01/10/2023
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop