Ellen--Did you sign a contract? Would you buy any of the homes that you saw with the other agent? If you can answer no to both questions, then the other agent would not have a right to the commission in Minnesota. (Is Plainsboro in MN?)
If you have signed a contract or if you plan on writing an offer on a house that you saw with an agent, then yes that first agent was the procuring cause to your purchase as they first introduced the home to you. And they could have a right to part or all of the commission for the buyer's side of the transaction. In your scenario, the agent that showed you the home at the open house could have a right to part of the commission since they were the procuring cause.
Hope this helps answer your question....... more
It depends on a couple of things. The most important element is: What would buyers expect or want in a home similar to yours.
Specifically, in some cases, they'd want that extra bath. In other cases, they'd want that extra bedroom. And that's something that you'd need a local Realtor to advise you on.
Then, since you say you plan to stay in your home for at least another 5 years, the equation tilts a lot more to what would make the home liveable for you, regardless of return on investment.
A couple of considerations:
In many areas of the country (but I'm not speaking for your area), that extra bath would probably be a smart project.
On the other hand, now you're separating the bedrooms--two up and one down. And many families with small children wouldn't like that. So you'd be narrowing your market when it came time to sell.
Another question: While you'd be constructing something in the basement, could it legally be called a bedroom? It depends on your local regulations, but often a "bedroom" requires both a closet and some sort of exit--a walk-out, for instance, or a large-enough window. So, functionally, you could use it as a bedroom, but when it came time to list the property you might have to call it a 2 [legal] bedroom/2.5 bath. That probably wouldn't be a good idea.
Another possibility which you may already have considered: Remodel the basement and add a half bath down there. Right now, it sounds as if you don't have a bath down there. People will appreciate the convenience of a bath (even a half-bath) down in the basement. Fix the basement up, brighten it up, and add a new half or full bath down there. That way, you won't be separating the bedrooms. The trade-off is that you won't get a master suite.
So: Consider those possibilities. Check with a Realtor to find out what buyers want and expect with your type of home. But then--really--make the decision based largely on your needs.
Hope that helps.... more