When thinking about listing your home for sale, you may realize some renos need to be done. But how much and what kind? What’s necessary and what’s not?
To set the record straight, we spoke with REALTOR® Christine Lovatt.
Before you embark on a big renovation project, talk to a real estate professional. Lovatt offers pre-selling consultations for free. She has already been to a couple of houses that will be listing in the spring and want to know which areas of the home to improve before selling.
“We went through the house, talked about what they should do and then I suggested some of my best contacts—contractors, painters, etc. The Seller will do most of what I suggested, and they’ll get the house ready for a spring sale,” she says. “When you have a couple of months, you can take your time getting things done.”
That said, it’s not for the faint of heart, which Lovatt is the first to admit as she is doing it herself right now. “It’s terrible,” she laughs. “It’s very difficult to do but if you can move out while they’re doing it, that’s ideal. Bathrooms aren’t so bad; usually you’re just doing one and you still have another you can use, but your whole world stops for a kitchen.” If you’re not gutting your kitchen, just painting the cupboards, putting in a new countertop and new hardware, that’s a lot easier to live through. It is cost effective and can make the kitchen appear larger, clean and bright!
Here Lovatt outlines the seven main things that need to be updated:
You can upgrade the insulation by replacing doors or windows with more efficient ones. Not only do they add value to your home, they will also decrease your monthly utility bills.
2. A fresh coat of paint
A fresh coat of paint is a must, the REALTOR® insists, a nice neutral colour, inside and out. Don’t forget the front door and the trim around it too, as well as the halls, baseboards and all of the white doors throughout the home. This is the most inexpensive way to update your home and ensure you attract more buyers.
3. Kitchen or bathroom remodel
A beautiful kitchen and updated bathroom are many homebuyers’ wish list. While some kitchens and bathrooms may need a complete overhaul, even minor renovations such as new countertops and taps can be enough to increase the value of your home.
4. Set up a home office
People are working from home more these days so setting up a home office is the way to go. If you have a spare room, turning it into a nice cozy office will be attractive to buyers.
5. Curb appeal
The exterior of your home is important too. You might want to think about replacing your garage door or upgrading your front door. Do a little bit of low-maintenance landscaping if you can. If you happen to have a backyard deck that is unsafe or needs redoing, that’s also a worthwhile investment.
If you have carpeting and there’s a good, older hardwood underneath, Lovatt recommends exposing it. While it doesn’t cost too much to install new carpets, it’s not most peoples’ first choice anymore. “If your budget is laminate, get the best quality laminate you can afford. Many people are also putting in luxury vinyl now; it’s very durable and soft on the feet,” she says.
7. Create storage
Lots of storage is a good selling feature; if you can, create extra. It could be in the form of a little extra furniture or a storage room. Some create extra storage space in their garage, for example.
Try not to sweat the small stuff. “Some people worry about things that buyers don’t even notice,” says Lovatt. Stick to the bigger elements listed above and your home will show well.
If you’ve got a decent amount of space in your basement, take some time to make it appealing. If it’s moist and smells moldy, put a dehumidifier downstairs and leave a window open to get some fresh air. If there is wood panelling, which can look dark and dingy, painting it white will make it look tidy and clean. If the space is unfinished, try to keep it neat—the neater the better.
“The more you do and the better the house looks, the better the price you’ll get,” says the REALTOR®. If you don’t renovate prior to selling, you will list for a lower price and receive less for your home. It may also take longer to sell. “People are going for homes that are ready to move in. A lot of people these days don’t want to do the work, so the more work you do, the more you’ll benefit,” she says.
Another factor to consider is the neighbourhood you live in. If you’ve noticed that a lot of houses are starting to renovate in your area, you may be at the beginning of a trend. If that neighbourhood is transitioning, then go ahead and do your renos. Conversely, if you’re in an area that isn’t like that, Lovatt wouldn’t advise putting much money into it.
She always tells her clients to just do the best they can afford and stick to the most neutral palette. Also, to remember that when getting ready to sell, you’re not picking items for yourself, you need to choose elements that are popular and neutral overall. Stores can help you with this; if you go to a place that specializes in kitchens or bathrooms, for example, they’ll be able to tell you what’s popular and most current.
Says Lovatt, “It’s like every day in life, if you work hard, you’ll benefit. It’s the same thing with a house, the more work you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it—and to me putting money in your house is money in the bank.”