Before deciding where to spend home improvement dollars, consider talking to real estate professionals who are familiar with your area and have years of experience. They spend their days talking to potential buyers and know what features are likely to result in a “thumbs-up” on a house.
First Impressions Matter
For the best chance of selling your home at the best price, presentation is key:
Basic maintenance – Home value doesn’t increase when you do small repair projects, such as replacing torn screens. But leaving them in place can signal neglect.
Furniture – Before showing the home, move furniture away from the doorways in each room. This gives a more open, larger appearance. Stand in doorways and evaluate the space of the rooms. You may be able to make them look bigger by rearranging furniture.
Clutter – The home should look lived-in but not crowded. Clear away knick-knacks and put surplus furniture in storage. Empty out crammed closets.
Windows – Open curtains so sunshine comes through clean windows, providing a light, airy feeling.
Flowers – Plant bright flowers near the front entrance and the back fence line, especially if they are visible through the home’s windows.
Smell – Air the home out and avoid strong pet odors, fried foods, etc. Ask your real estate pro the best way to create an inviting aroma.
Summer Barbecues on the Deck
Summer means barbecue season and with that comes the urge to kick back and relax outdoors.
Building a backyard deck will increase the resale value of your home by providing an extra “room” outdoors, a perfect place to relax after a cold Canadian winter. Estimated payback: 60 per cent to 90 per cent.
Depending on where you live, a pool may be considered a requirement – or it may turn your home into a hard-to-sell white elephant.
People often disagree on the subject of pools. Some say the cost of a $25,000 pool won’t be recouped while others say it adds value.
There is one point of agreement. A pool can limit the size of your home’s market. Families with small children may view it as a danger, while other buyers may see it as a nice amenity, but not worth the work and extra expense. On the other hand, for many people, a pool conjures up fun images that could be enough to seal the deal.
With so many opinions, it’s no wonder that real estate professionals often advise homeowners that, if they’re going to add a big-ticket item like a pool, they should do it primarily to enhance their own lifestyles rather than to increase value for resale purposes.
Good guideline: Avoid trends that will appear outdated in a couple of years. By doing some fairly simple projects, you open your home to a broader market and hopefully, a quicker sell at the price you want.
Here are ten projects that generally add the biggest per-dollar punch to your home’s value and saleability:
1. Paint – New paint adds a fresh smell and a well-maintained appearance. On the other hand, a home that needs to be painted looks neglected. Estimated payback: As much as 300 per cent.
2. Landscaping – Well-trimmed bushes and a manicured lawn are signs a home has been maintained. These tasks may involve more sweat equity than financial investment. While landscaping, take a look at your mailbox. If it’s rusty and wobbly, replace it. A nice yard adds to the curb appeal that may get drive-by home shoppers out of their cars and through the front door for a better look. Avoid excessive landscaping unless it’s for your own pleasure. Buyers may admire it but few will pay extra thousands of dollars for it, regardless how much you spent on it.
3. Light fixtures – They don’t have to be expensive. But some old light fixtures make rooms look dated.
4. Window coverings – Do they let in the light? You don’t need costly drapes, but worn, outdated, or heavy window coverings are a definite negative. Natural light appeals to most home buyers.
5. Floors – Attractive flooring adds a lift and can be fairly inexpensive. If carpet is a neutral color and in good condition, it may only need professional cleaning. If not, replace it, stick to mid-grade, neutral tones that will go with all color schemes.
Nice-looking hardwood floors can be a major drawing card. If yours appear worn, it would be a smart use of your home improvement dollars to have them refurbished.
6. Central air conditioning – Depending on the area, this can be a feature that many buyers expect.
7. Updated kitchen – The kitchen is generally a major selling point, but it is expensive to totally redo it. Although prices can quickly change, the cost of a completely remodeled kitchen can range from $20,000 and $30,000, and even higher if you plan to install a showcase kitchen. That’s not bad if you’re doing the work for your own benefit and will enjoy it for a few years.
An alternative is do spot remodeling jobs that can be accomplished for less money. Consider a new sink and fixtures, counter tops, cabinet fronts, lighting, a paint job, and even drawer and cabinet pulls can add up to a nice kitchen face lift. If the appliances look old and used — or if they do not match — consider replacing them. Estimated payback on a complete remodel can range from 68 per cent to 120 per cent.
8. Bathroom – You can also do spot remodeling jobs on the bathroom with new, expensive looking, fixtures, a new vanity and an interesting mirror. Make sure vanity mirrors are at an accessible height for every member of the family. As with a kitchen, soft lighting and warm colours can go a long way in increasing home value. Add vases and plans as design elements. Estimated payback: 65 per cent to 120 per cent.
9. Energy features – If your home is older, energy loss may be a concern for would-be buyers. In that case, improved insulation for windows, doors, and storm doors can be smart upgrades. Given the nature of Canadian winters, consider installing thermal windows which help trap heat inside, keeping the home warm and reducing heating bills.
Prices change, but thermal windows range from about $20 to about $50 a square foot. Estimated payback: 50 per cent to 90 per cent. Some retrofits, like better insulation and high-efficiency furnaces, pay for themselves relatively quickly. Others, like solar panels, heat recovery ventilators, and tankless water heaters, may take years to pay for themselves. Payback: Highly variable.
10. Room addition – An added room may increase the value of your home, but may not pay for itself. Before building an extra bathroom or adding a family room, talk to a real estate professional to see what is selling in your neighborhood. If your home has two bathrooms, for example, but recent sales have been mostly three bathroom homes, it might be a worthwhile project. Otherwise, save you money. General estimated payback: 50 per cent to 83 per cent, depending on the addition.
These are just some considerations when improving your home for resale purposes. Getting top dollar for your home generally requires some work and cash. But with a little planning and some advice from real estate professionals, you can help make sure the dollars spent on improvements will come back in the sales price.