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Economical Renovations to Update & Sell Your Home

Simple make-over techniques and suggestions to increase your home's value.

Should I first remodel ... or sell my home in "as is" condition?

This is the question that never changes.

It takes mere seconds to find information about the “best renovations to improve resale value.” A great deal of information, in fact. The same suggestions are repeated over and over – kitchens, bathrooms and flooring.

There is no disputing there’s value in certain renovations. Some of them are very costly and not every seller has the time, resources or know-how to get the job done. Not every buyer is looking for a totally updated home.

If you are planning to put your house on the market, consider basic cost-effective improvements to create a good first impression and to obtain the best possible selling price.

Some updates are merely cosmetic, while others may require extensive labour and a hefty outlay of funds. It is important to decide if a remodelling project is a good investment or whether it is best to simply showcase how well you have cared for your home.

The high value rooms to potential buyers.

Renovated Contemporary Kitchen

You’ve likely heard that kitchens and bathrooms ultimately sell the house. They are definitely high importance rooms in the minds of buyers, and the ones most likely to show their age. Depending on the extent of the renovation, costs can quickly add up and ultimately not provide a good return on your investment. Before taking this step, consider the expectations of the real estate market in your neighbourhood.

Fortunately, there are plenty of cost effective alternatives to a total and complete remodel.

If your kitchen cupboards are in good condition, new handles or pulls will instantly refresh the look. Try replacing a couple of shaker-style panels with glass fronts. Open space above the upper cabinetry can feature stylish objects d’art, but don’t over do it, and always work in odd numbers. If cabinets aren’t appealing, having them professionally painted is far less expensive than replacement. I stress professionally painted. A DIY project here will most likely result in lost value.

If the budget allows, a new countertop or backsplash can do wonders and should appliances need to be exchanged, previously owned may just do the trick. A new pull-out faucet can become the focal point of the kitchen and if the stainless steel sink is scratched and dented, consider installing a porcelain apron sink. It will be a showstopper.

In bathrooms, everything should sparkle. Regrout rather than replace tiles. New vessel sinks and faucets will immediately refurbish the space. Older homes may benefit from the reglazing of tubs and tiles.

A powder room, considering its generally small size, might be the ideal spot to totally renovate without breaking the budget. Textured tiles or colourful wallpaper, a new vanity with a contemporary basin and fixture, a stylish mirror, towel bar, and maybe some artwork will make an unforgettable impact.

It’s impossible to not notice the floors.

Bedroom with New Hardwood Flooring

Flooring is a tough one in terms of deciding how extensively to replace or refresh, but, it is a wise place to spend some money. What do you choose?

  • Hardwood, Engineered Hardwood, Laminate, Cork
  • Carpet
  • Porcelain or Ceramic Tiles

With a little research, you can likely find a budget friendly option in any surface material.

Most buyers are looking for hard surface flooring in today’s market.

You may indeed have hardwood, but if it’s scratched and scuffed, or a dated colour and plank width, it’s no longer an asset. Hardwood can be refinished, but it is a messy project. Engineered hardwood has a real wood veneer on top of lesser quality woods. Laminate flooring has come a long way in visual appeal and its durability makes it a good choice for households with small children and pets. Cork flooring is known for its cushioned feel and hypoallergenic properties.

Carpeting offers the widest selection of styles, colours and prices. It may have lost popularity in main living areas, but is often still preferred in bedrooms and basement rec rooms. If you don’t plan to replace, be sure to have your broadloom cleaned. A good steam cleaning before going on the market will get rid of those stains, furniture imprints, and leave your whole home smelling fresh.

Porcelain and ceramic tiles come in a variety of colours, textures and sizes, but replacing tile flooring is no small undertaking given the possible scope of the job and the disruption it causes.

Surprisingly simple changes with high impact results.

Interior Home Lighting

Paint. If nothing else, do this kindness for your home.  A fresh coat of paint makes everything look new. So often during showings, buyers focus on chipped paint and scratches on the walls, instead of looking at the ACTUAL room features. Stay with neutral colours. Grey, taupe and beige are usually the neutrals of choice, but personally, I like “Greige”. It’s a versatile combination of grey and beige tones that always works well. Every major paint supplier offers this selection.

Lighting. Sellers too often underestimate the value of proper lighting to showcase the features of their home. Let the sun shine in. Open up all of the window blinds and draperies because dark and dismal does not leave a good first impression with buyers. But wait .. there’s a scheduled showing of your home at 8:00 pm on a late October evening. This is when sufficient interior lighting is indispensable to properly present your beautifully maintained home. The addition of new table lamps (which can move with you), and fashionable overhead fixtures that need not be expensive, can bring a far greater return than their actual cost. Very importantly, ensure there are no missing or burned out light bulbs.

Weekend improvements the family can do together.

Minimalist Living Room
Image by ErikaWittlieb from Pixabay

Sometimes, minor cosmetic improvements can make a big difference. There are small projects that you can accomplish in a weekend to ensure your home gets the attention it deserves from potential buyers.

  1. Update door hardware to current styles and finishes. Uniformity, although it may not be initially obvious to a buyer, creates a sense of order.
  2. Light switches and cover plates are easily replaced and should also be consistent throughout the home. That is not to say, a special pink unicorn or racing car cover plate in the kids rooms, don’t have their place.
  3. Heat register coverings can look worn and take only seconds to swap out.
  4. Buy new comforters, bedding and decorative pillows for the bedrooms with an eye to their staging qualities.
  5. Towels, accessories and scented soaps breathe new life into bathrooms.
  6. Front door and kitchen floor mats may need replacement, but steer clear of anything too flashy or messages that may not go over well with everyone.
  7. Wash the windows.
  8. Organize the bedrooms and play areas of the little ones with dedicated containers for their toys and treasures.
  9. Make space in the front closet and entry into a mud room by storing away unneeded coats and shoes. The goal is to show the spaciousness of these high traffic areas.
  10. Fill in nail holes, dents, and gouges in walls and baseboards and touch up the paint.

Don’t forget about the basement and garage.

The process of selling your home entails the process of decluttering and storing some of your belongings. If an off-site facility isn’t possible, take care to neatly stack boxes or plastic storage containers in the basement or garage. Don’t let a messy, neglected corner haphazardly piled high with personal belongings, negate all of your hard work.

Objectively evaluate your home’s curb appeal.

Living in Burlington's Milcroft neighbourhood

Buyers will form an opinion of your home before they even set a foot outside of their vehicle. Curb Appeal is genuinely as important as you have heard it to be. A small fortune can be spent on professional landscaping, but this may not bring the return on your investment that you hope.

There are quick and easy measures to increase visual appeal that require only minor expenditures or simply your time and effort.

  • Replace dated or damaged exterior lighting.
  • Make certain the driveway and front walk are free of debris.
  • Refresh the driveway with a coat of sealer.
  • Prune shrubbery and keep flower beds weeded.
  • Paint the front door and window frames if necessary.
  • Add seasonal embellishments. Spring petunias or autumn mums in decorative pots at the entry say, “welcome”.
  • A deck or patio functions as another room of the house. Outdoor furniture often benefits from new sun-resistant seat cushions. Add potted palms and ferns for a feeling of privacy.

Making the final decision.

Budget and time can influence the direction taken, as can outside influences. What is expected of the homes in your community?

If the area you live in is older, and properties are bought for land value only, there is no point in renovation. Neighbourhoods where homes are 25-35 years of age, kitchen and bathroom updates are expected in order to garner the best price from buyers. In newer subdivisions where homes already have the latest in trends, landscaping is the place to put your money to increase property value.

The question that never changes – remains.  Sometimes the best decision is one of informed common sense.

Top Photo by Roselyn Tirado on Unsplash
Cheryl Tym, Sales Representative, REMAX Aboutowne Realty Corp., Brokerage
Cheryl Tym
REALTOR®, RE/MAX Aboutowne Realty Corp., Brokerage

A full time REALTOR® dedicated to providing the best possible service and outcome for clients and their families. International sales, marketing and negotiating skills were part of the daily routine while living and working overseas as Director of Operations for an international hospitality marketing firm. A graduate of Sheridan’s Interior Design Program, and recipient of the Professionalism Award, my artistry and knowledge will highlight the very best features of your property, inside and out.

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RE/MAX Aboutowne Realty Corp., Brokerage
Independently Owned and Operated
A-309 Lakeshore Road East
Oakville, Ontario, L6J 1J3
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