Real Estate

Can’t Move? Renovate, if You Can Afford It.

If you bought a home before mortgage rates shot up to their current levels, congratulations — you’re probably paying much less each month than you would if you moved today and borrowed again. That’s why so many homeowners are staying put, even if they’d prefer to move.

These days, renovating may be a better bet. But what would that set you back? As always, location matters. A recent study by Frontdoor, an app that offers tips and resources for home projects and repairs, calculated the cost of fully renovating the five main rooms in a house — bathroom, bedroom, dining room, kitchen and living room — using professional contractors and budget materials in the largest U.S. cities.

Chicago and three of its suburbs — Naperville, Joliet and Elgin — all landed in the top five for expensive renovations, thanks in part to high local construction-worker wages. In Naperville, renovating all five rooms would cost about $101,000. In Chicago, just upgrading the kitchen comes to about $34,000.

Meanwhile, in San Antonio, a kitchen renovation only costs about $25,000, while in Jackson, Miss., redoing all five rooms comes to about $57,000. In fact, the study found that all 10 of the least expensive cities for renovations are in the South.

The report also calculated affordability — or how much these costs cut into income. Detroit, for example, has some of the most affordable housing in the country, and yet it is the least affordable place to fix up a house, with a full renovation amounting to roughly 221 percent of the local median income. In a troubled market like Detroit, where home values are low and there may not be enough equity in a home to borrow against, it’s impossible for some residents to secure a loan to fund the work.

This week’s chart shows the most and least expensive cities in which to renovate the five main rooms in a house.

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