Choosing whether to remodel or to move is not simple, and some community legal restraints might prevent some remodeling. Still, if you like the location and general feeling of your home, you can turn it into your dream house. Before making that decision, especially in a slow real estate market, determine whether you can get more house for the money or whether you should stand pat and remodel.
If you love the neighborhood and home skeleton, remodeling might be the way to go. If you are tired of the house or think that you won't get your money out of fixing it up, then look at newer construction or remodeled homes in areas you do like. By remodeling, you can fit the house exactly to your lifestyle, and you might find that you can actually get more house in a good remodel than you could afford to buy.
You might also find that one thing leads to another: new lights might require new wiring, a new sink might require new plumbing, and new walls might require new insulation. Remodeling can improve the home's fire safety and energy efficiency.
In some cases, it is possible to get a significant return on a remodel, but a significant remodel could result in a new appraisal for property tax purposes.
In determining whether to move, ask potential new neighbors what living in that neighborhood is like. When considering remodeling, talk to friends and family for firsthand information and referrals for contractors, plumbers, electricians, etc. Sometimes people have had such headaches with a remodeling job that they say they would never do it again. Others are so thrilled with the end product that they say all the inconveniences were worth it.
If the remodeling is extensive, avoid living in the house while it is being remodeled. Friends who had been through remodeling projects will probably tell you that it is stressful. Living with the rubble and dust, as well as workers entering your private space, can take a toll on you and your family relationships. Whatever your friends tell you about how tough it is to live in a home that is being extensively remodeled, multiply that by a hundred.