HOME IMPROVEMENTS VEMENTS THAT IMPROVE VALUES
Joseph Talbot, Real Estat eal Estate Broker
Table Of Contents
Remodeling – Is It Worth It?
Where To Spend The Money
Improvements That Cost More Than Their ROI 12
Design & Feature Trends To Avoid; Improvements That Add Value
Don't Overdo It: Keeping Your Market Area In Mind
Flooring, Walls, And Lighting
Cooking Up A New Kitchen
Living Room Upgrades And Renovations
10. Bedroom And Attic Renovations
11. Bathroom Renovations And ROI
12. Remodelling, Additions, And ROI
13. Tips For Increasing Your Home's Value Via Improvements
Introduction Hi there! It’s nice to meet you. If you’ve received this book, it’s probably because you’re thinking about selling your home. And if you’re like most sellers, you may be dreading the entire process. But that’s why I’m here! My job is to make your job as a seller as easy and seamless as possible. Throughout my years of experience in the real estate industry, I’ve amassed insider knowledge to help home sellers get the most money out of their homes in the least amount of time and stress. And now, you’ve got all of that information at your fingertips. If you’ve ever wondered how a friend with a seemingly average house in a seemingly average neighborhood managed to sell their home way above market value, the answer isn’t luck. That person likely was working with a great Realtor®.
In this book, you’ll find:
• An overview of renovating and updating • Secret strategies to sell your home for more money • Common mistakes to avoid • Advice on how to appeal to today’s buyers • Tips for upgrading with the greatest return on investment • Your guide to making more money while spending less • And much, much more Sure, you can try to employ these strategies yourself. But I suggest talking to a licensed professional — like myself — to help you employ them. Yes, selling your home can be stressful, but with this book (and my help!), we can make the process as quick and seamless as possible. v
Testimonials & Reviews for Joseph Talbot Here is what buyers and sellers are saying about working with Joseph: Joseph Talbot was recommended to me during my search for a home when I encountered resistance from another real estate agent to the degree that I and my family were very distressed. Mr. Talbot’s approach was open, welcoming, and respectful and within short order I had an offer on a home I indeed secured. Mr. Talbot responded to all my concerns and requests immediately yet honoured my wishes and literally always went 'above and beyond'. This was particularly important to my needs, moving into a new area. I love my property, and new neighbours and feel that Mr. Talbot made this possible!! Absolutely reliable, honest, and a person of integrity!! Louise S. Thank you Joseph, for all your help again in your Real Estate field. We really appreciate all your help over the past two months selling our home in Creemore and helping us with all the little problems that popped up. You always give 110% to your clients. Over the past 15 years now, we've used your buying and selling skills. We would definitely recommend you to anyone for a very knowledgeable and caring Real Estate professional agent. Thank you. Mary and Ted U. Joe is likely the most down to earth realtor we have ever met, and had the pleasure of working with. From the sale of our home, to the purchase of our new house, he has guided us through the process. He is never too busy to answer questions, and has an extensive network of professionals he recommends. Jay and Jo-anne N. Without any hesitation I would recommend Joe for any of your vii
real estate needs. His kind, sincere manner is very helpful in assisting any age group. Joe will definitely get you to your new house. Lorna S. He goes the extra mile to make your buying or selling experience peaceful. He’s very knowledgeable in all aspects of real estate. I would highly recommend. Ray S. Joe was amazing at listening to what I was looking for. He went the extra mile to show me all my options. He was very approachable and patient. I’ve recommended him to others as he’s honest and dependable. He’s the person you want in your corner for selling or buying. Susan B. This guy knows his stuff! Very friendly and approachable! He genuinely cares about his customers. Robert T. Joe is a fantastic real estate agent. He's not a pushy, sneaky "salesman". Joe is the most honest person I know!! He's not a fast talker. He will explain everything about the house because he knows everything about houses. He listens to your needs and finds the right place for you. He's not happy till you are happy. Michelle M. Our whole family greatly appreciates everything you've done for us. You are a wonderful, patient and knowledgeable real estate agent. Norma. J Thank you so much for all you have done for our father. You went above and beyond to assist him during this difficult time. Your brokerage should be very proud to have you as part of their team. Christine H. and Theresa V. We want to thank you for all you've done for us and our daughter. You have demonstrated God's love and kindness in a very practical way. You have gone out of your way for us,
especially during an emergency and looked out for our best interests. You have been a real blessing to our family. Steve and Teresa F. and family Joseph was very easy to get along with and helped us find just the right home for us and made sure we were buying at a fair price. He also went out of his way to let us stay in his home while waiting for a snowstorm to pass. Joe and Grace B.
About Joseph Joseph has always had a passion for real estate, design, and building. In his late teens, he started building custom homes with his brother and doing major residential renovations for clients. Over the years he has learned a lot about what works in homes and what does not. With a diploma in Interior design (with honours and awards), he understands spatial organization, traffic flow patterns in a home, colour theory and how it makes you feel within a room, product design, structural design, building code, and historical architecture. He understands the impact of residential and commercial design on our daily lives. After about 15 years of building for clients, Joseph decided it was time to become a registered builder, buy vacant land, and build homes on spec. After building a number of homes to sell, it was time to add more value to what he offered. So in 2005, Joseph went back to school and received his real estate license and has not looked back. Joseph has also been a landlord and a property manager helping other landlords. He took pride in the rental units he owned and would completely renovate, so tenants could have a really nice place to call home. As a real estate broker, Joseph strives to do the very best he can to make his sellers, buyers and landlords feel like they really matter and are his priority. He treats clients like family. Joseph always goes out of his way to help his clients; whether it is helping seniors deal with years of belongings, finding new homes for old things, or pitching in to help clean up a property before the sale. He will put his carpentry skills to good use to
help install a kitchen, pick up a shovel and rake, do some plumbing, and everything in between. If Joseph is not able to help out physically at the time, he will never leave you hanging. He will do his best to find you the right contractor or handyman to get the job done. With a strong work ethic and amazing clients, Joseph has always been an award winner in Real Estate. He owes a great debt of gratitude to those who have helped him get to where he is today. Joseph lives with his wonderful wife and two amazing children in the beautiful southern Georgian Bay area in Ontario, Canada. In his free time, he loves to spend time with his family. He also likes to continue to renovate his 140-year-old home; upcycling old things and giving them a new purpose and life again. When he is not in his shop or working, you can find him hiking in the bush in the winter or glamping (RVing) with his family in the warmer months. Joseph aims to provide the highest level of service to his clients and takes deep pride in helping them achieve their real estate goals. His faith, family and integrity are very important to him. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this book. I hope you find it helpful for achieving your Real Estate goals.
CHAPTER 1 Remodeling – Is it Worth it? orth it?
Remodelling. You’ve been thinking about it for a while now. That kitchen layout is maddening, the wallpaper in the bathroom is a crime against good taste, and the basement has looked like a dungeon for years. Not to mention the upgrades to the doors, windows, and landscaping that have been the subject of so many dinner table discussions. It crosses your mind that it might be better just to move and leave all the home’s faults for someone else to figure out. But, then again, your job isn’t going to last forever, and you may have to move in five or six years anyway. So maybe it would just be best to tough it out until then. After all, no one gets their money back on remodelling projects at the time of sale anyway, right? The truth is that deciding to remodel can be an extremely stressful decision. It affects your savings, your enjoyment of the home, and the property’s potential resale value. Yet, since the housing bubble burst and the recession years passed (and may happen again), more and more people have decided to take on the task of remodelling, frequently attempting the projects themselves to save money. A surge in renovations across the country has been primarily driven by the effects of a recession, as interest rates and costs of labour and material have risen. As a result, many people are trying to cut costs where they can, taking on projects themselves rather than hiring costly contractors. Whether home prices are rising and homes are moving off the market quickly in many areas, or the market is stable, 2
remodelling can still be a wise decision. The improvements may help set your home apart from the pack if and when you choose to sell. Or you may find even if your home is set to sell quickly and for a reasonable price, you still can’t quite afford the upgraded home you want. Renovating now could help raise your current standard of living and raise the future resale value while you save. However, here comes the hard part — deciding what to do and how much to spend. There is a myriad of factors to consider. How long do you plan on staying in the house? What is your budget? What kind of projects do you need done the most? Or rather, what is it about your house that drives you the craziest? How long you plan to remain in the house might be the most important of those questions. The less time you expect to spend there, the less time you have to enjoy the fruits of your labour. It also means you will need to leave some money in the coffers to cover moving expenses. In such a case, you are going to want to focus on the projects that give you the most significant Return on Investment (ROI). For example, things like replacing old doors and windows can have a return of 100% or more in the right market. A major remodel of a kitchen or basement, however, will generally result in a lower ROI. The purpose of this book is to show you that it is possible to remodel for both personal satisfaction in your home and for increased value should you decide to sell. It will also help you choose where and how to best spend your money so that you get the most bang for your buck. Now, before you go off and start planning that $20,000 bathroom renovation, you will need to do some research to ensure the best possible results.
The single best thing you can do to help direct your home renovation project toward improving its sale value is to contact a real estate agent. This is especially true if you plan to sell in the next few years. Remember, home prices fluctuate, so have the agent come now and again just before you sell because market values may have changed in the interim. An agent will know your specific market and what sort of improvements, colours, and styles are most sought-after in your area. A real estate agent can also suggest simple fixes with low costs, as well as contractors who can perform the work. Another simple rule to follow is to make sure you obtain the permits your municipality requires. Trying to skirt the permit system may seem like a good idea in the short term, but it can lead to far more anxiety and expense in the long run. One benefit is when you sell, and the buyer asks if you got a permit, you can show them you did. You want to avoid the hassle and expense of needing to get a permit after the work was done, in order to close the deal. With all this in mind, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of home remodelling, beginning with a more detailed look at where you should spend your money and how much you can expect to gain from your investment.
CHAPTER 2 Where to Spend the Mone o Spend the Money
Full-scale remodelling projects don't generally offer the best ROI. Instead, the best approach to getting higher value for your expense and effort is to refresh or replace existing items like windows and doors, usually with a mid-range upgrade. Spend according to your home's price range. Where should you spend your money for the greatest return? How much of your costs can you expect to recoup when it's time to sell? Let's begin by going over some of those replacement projects and continue with an overview of other big hitters, particularly the kitchen and bathroom remodel.
These projects are relatively simple and less costly, placing them within reach of most homeowners. The top four improvement projects in terms of ROI, according to Remodeling magazine, are the following:
• Garage door replacement: 98.3% • Manufactured stone veneer: 97.1% • Deck addition (wood): 82.8% • Minor kitchen remodel: 81.1%
As you can see, these are not sweeping, spectacular changes. So why are they so valuable? First, you should consider the location of all these changes. They are all on the home's visible exterior, creating a positive first impression in the minds of potential buyers — one that helps set the home's value in their minds.
Other projects with a good return include replacing old windows with new vinyl or wood window frames and trim and installing a new roof, with returns of 71% and 62%, respectively. Again, spend within the price range of the home. For example, if you install a high-end steel tile roof in a low- to mid-range subdivision home, you won't likely recoup the cost when you sell. It is also worth noting that the ROI numbers will vary depending on your market. This is where the advice of a trusted real estate broker comes into play.
You can also gain from working on the inside of the home. One chief benefit of redoing an interior room or two is that you will increase your own enjoyment of your home. And if you are ready to sell, further improvements will help you carry that good impression from the exterior through to the interior of the home. As with all other aspects of home improvement, there are better and worse ways to spend your money. As the adage goes, kitchens sell houses. According to Remodeling magazine, kitchen remodels average a return of 79.3% nationwide, making it the best investment for a total remodelling project.
Other good remodel projects to consider include:
Attic bedroom: 53% Bathroom: 62% Basement: 63%
Be warned that these projects can prove costly, with the national average cost for jobs on this scale running in the tens of
thousands of dollars. So, to maximize the return on such a significant investment, carefully consider just how much you are willing to spend and what is in demand in your market. Also, remember these are averages, so you may recapture more or less on your investment.
Another consideration when looking to add value to your home (and make it more functional while you live there) is to add entirely new rooms. Clearly, this is a large step involving an even larger investment in nearly every possible case. Room additions are not cost-effective if you plan to sell within the next few years. That said, if you plan on staying where you are for a while to enjoy your additions, they can result in a reasonable ROI. Some are more financially worthwhile than others, as below:
Primary bedroom suite: 52% Deck: 70% Bathroom: 62%
As you can see, there is a relatively large range in the ROI involved, though not as large as a less ambitious remodel. A careful reading of the data shows that some of the most expensive projects (a sunroom addition averaged over $72,000 nationwide) provide the lowest returns. Of course, there is a wide variance in building costs. According to Remodeling magazine, a 200-square foot sunroom addition with footings and slabs-on-grade foundation can cost up to $70,000. However, a survey conducted on HomeAdvisor.com found the average cost of sunroom additions ran around $16,315. Remember to allow extra cash for unforeseen expenses that could arise.
It would help if you also considered that buyers' tastes might differ from yours. Even if they are similar, they only see the finished product. They will have little understanding of or interest in what went into creating it. That brings out the need for a deeper understanding of how these statistics play out in real life. For example, a roof replacement is often cited as having a high ROI. While this can be true, it is essential to understand this in context. After all, others assert that a new roof does nothing to add market value to a home. So how do you square these seemingly contradictory statements? A roof is a bit like a bass player in a rock band; you should only really notice it when it isn't doing its job. It is generally not something you think about unless it is leaking or has a colony of moss growing on it. Therefore, while a bad roof can certainly detract from a home's value, a solid, trouble-free roof is simply expected. Its chief value is how it may favourably compare with similar houses with older roofs showing clear signs of wear. That said, you do not need to replace your roof with an eye toward selling unless your home needs it. One caveat is that roofing items like energy-efficient architectural shingles or a steel roof with a transferable warranty may be highly attractive to the right buyer. Also, remember that spending more money does not necessarily mean a larger return. Returning to the kitchen example, a relatively minor remodel of $20,000 may yield a much higher ROI than a $55,000 remodel. While buyers certainly love a large kitchen complete with an island and shiny stainless-steel appliances, they won't be as quick to assign significant value to the best hinges, custom
stained cupboards, and imported Wolf appliances that money can buy. At some point, very high-end appliances can even be a turn-off either because the buyer is not familiar with them or is too familiar and knows just how hard it is to get parts when they fail. Basements are also tricky. A spacious rec room is undoubtedly a draw, but often will not be counted as living space in an appraisal, nor in the square footage in the property listing (most homes' square footage is based on levels above grade). People also tend to have their own ideas of what a rec room should look like. If your basement is still unfinished or you plan to leave in less than five years, it is best to either leave it alone or simply put up walls along the outside of the space. Then you can install cheap but attractive carpet and inexpensive drop ceilings, allowing the buyers to customize to their own tastes. It is also essential that you do not overlook the basic systems. For example, when people look at a home, they do not expect to find leaky pipes, a non-functioning furnace, or electrical outlets that pop a breaker as soon as someone plugs something into an outlet. These and other issues like mould, a leaky roof, or stained and damaged carpet will generally turn off a buyer, regardless of how amazing the kitchen and bathrooms may be. Some of these, especially less visible issues like an aging furnace or water heater, may seem like a waste of money if you plan to sell soon. But they are critically important. A buyer may overlook such issues on an initial walk-through. But even if they make an offer and you accept it, it might not be the end of the story. Appraisers and inspectors will almost certainly be coming through the home as part of the process, and issues like these can derail a sale. An appraiser will notice
such aging equipment and other factors like old carpet and flooring and adjust the home's value based on the current market. Home inspectors are less concerned with market value, but they will point out that a 25-year-old furnace can give out at any time, even if it is functioning well during the inspection. This can often lead a buyer to ask for a price reduction to cover replacement costs. Even if you intend to move soon, replacing or repairing your home's primary systems is worth the cost. These systems do provide a good ROI, at least in terms of saleability. Taking care of them will at least make your remaining time there more comfortable. The furnace and air conditioning units can be a selling point if they are new, energy-efficient models. An additional bonus here is that tax credits are often associated with such models, lessening your initial investment. Remember, even if some of these repairs do not add additional value in the eyes of a buyer, they do not subtract value either and could help your home sell faster than it would without them.
CHAPTER 3 Improvements That Cost ements That Cost More Than Their ROI
Over the course of many years, we have been conditioned to view almost any home improvement or repair as something which automatically increases the value of the home — as something that will guarantee a great ROI upon selling it. Unfortunately, this is not always true. When deciding whether or not to begin a new addition, fix up the basement, purchase new appliances, or take on other home improvement projects, it is important to ask yourself: Do I know this project will add monetary value to my home? Is this repair a necessity or a nicety? Are these new appliances going to fill my needs and make me happy, or am I buying them because I think they will add value to the home when I sell in a few years? There are certain repairs, renovations, and upgrades that just will not help you make a sale.
Let's walk through your home and look at things more closely.
New carpeting? While this could appeal to some people, home buyers are often turned off by it because they will feel like they need to have carpets professionally cleaned before moving in. They also might be conscious of health hazards due to allergens that gather in carpets. These thoughts and more will cross the minds of home buyers making their decisions.
If you have suitable flooring, show it off. You are much better off with hardwood flooring that can be topped with area rugs or carpeted over later if the home buyer chooses to do so. It's a bedroom, not a zoo. If you want to have pets, have pets, but be careful to avoid making structural changes like adding built- in cages or aquariums. This is an example of "improvements" detracting from the value of your home. Unless you find another Dr. Doolittle to purchase the home, you will need to convert it back to normal before anyone else will buy it. The same goes for other highly personalized conversions, such as a cold pantry or wine cellar. Anything you do that is truly unique to you needs to be done in such a way that it is easily undone before putting your home on the market. Otherwise, potential buyers may view these personal extravagances as expensive projects to undo or make them part of the deal that you undo them yourself. Where is the garage? Potential home buyers expect it to be a garage if it looks like a garage. They might not be excited if they walk in and find that it's been completely changed into something else that can no longer store a car. Home buyers enjoy protecting their vehicles from hail and night-time pranksters. They will likely love not cleaning ice or snow off the car on winter mornings. Instead of a "man cave," you might find greater success with an actual garage. That does not mean you cannot create that family room, theatre, or gym in your garage. You can — if you set it up so it can become a garage again with minimal cost. For example, don't carpet it. If you want to cover the garage floor, do so with large area rugs, or roll carpet out onto the surface without attaching it with glue or permanently installing it in any other way. If you have built-in storage cabinets, leave them as such instead of dismantling them to hang up the big screen.
The famous kitchen. If you plan to live in your home for many years and you want to enjoy an updated kitchen, go for the greatest kitchen you can afford. However, be warned if you plan to renovate the kitchen to raise the home's value and increase your profits at its sale. On paper, kitchen renovations are usually only worth about half their cost — even less if you go too gourmet. New granite countertops, new tile flooring, a new brushed stainless steel sink, and a sophisticated cabinet system with a hideaway refrigerator — these things and more might be your dreams coming true, but buyers and appraisers may not be so keen. If remodelling is a must, move forward with caution and avoid overspending. In general, the kitchen is the heart of the home, so a nice one will impress potential buyers. However, you will not realize a 100% ROI on a kitchen remodel. Before sinking your entire reno budget, speak with designers at local improvement stores or a local contractor that builds and installs kitchens to get good ideas. Considering a pool? Taking a dip elsewhere could save you thousands, sometimes even tens of thousands. Before installing an in-ground pool prior to a sale in the hope of adding value to your home, think this through. Pools are for homeowners who want to enjoy them — and maintain and service them. They are not a particularly strong draw to home buyers. Are you going to enjoy the pool yourself for a few years, or are you installing it to improve the home's sale value? Are you prepared to fill in an in-ground pool or dismantle an above- ground pool at a buyer's request? Many potential buyers view pools as a hazard, especially if they have children or grandchildren who will be in the home with them. They will also
be aware of the extra costs attached to the pool for maintenance and water bills. If your wallet will be just as happy paying for all the expenses attached to installing a pool, keeping up with maintenance, and potentially losing out on tens of thousands of dollars when you can't recoup your investment at the sale, then go ahead and have fun with a pool. Do not, however, do it for the resale value of the property. I know that sounds harsh, but it is, unfortunately, true. Taking it up a level? Do you need more room to fit your family for a few more years? Is your mother-in-law moving in? Do you need to build a special suite for her? There are valid reasons to build additions on to your home, but if you plan to move out shortly, the addition will only be a temporary bandage. If you can, hold off on making expensive changes. If you do decide to proceed with an inlaw or granny suite, be sure to check your municipality for grants and tax incentives. If your house is the smallest in your neighbourhood and everyone else has a second story, you have a better chance of recouping your costs than if it is the other way around. Home buyers want to be comfortable in the home and with their surroundings. So if you add to your house in good taste, and it does not stand out like a sore thumb, the appraisal will likely be more in your favour. However, covering 100% of the cost of any addition is very unlikely, so don't get your hopes up. Don't go chasing waterfalls. It is lovely to see beautifully landscaped yards with colourful plants, mini-hills, and the trickle of water flowing down amidst the flowers. The picturesque setting pleases the eye and relaxes the mind. However, while good landscaping is important for the general enjoyment of any home by its residents, you don't need to feel pressure to invest in extravagant creations to bring up the home's resale value.
Instead, a sprinkler system is a practical investment of several thousand dollars. There is greater perceived and actual value in this addition than in a miniature babbling brook that will attract birds and butterflies. If you are thinking of ways to upgrade your yard, the sprinkler system would be the wiser choice. The lower level. The question of the basement raises a lot of conversation among homeowners. There are cases where finishing a basement has proven to be a financial loss to the homeowner at the time of sale – and cases in which the appraisal value showed an increase, with buyers happily willing to pay the increased price. Finishing your basement as local code allows can be done in different ways. If you can manage without completely altering the structure — such as adding walls or creating extra rooms — it is possible to come out as a winner. What about the bathroom? What about the bathroom, indeed! A necessary component of any household is the toilet; a home without one wouldn't be much better than a particularly fancy tent. Renovating a bathroom could cost you only a little, or you could spend a fortune, depending on your plans. Similar to kitchens, while a modern, efficient bathroom is expected, do not expect to increase the appraisal or sale value of the home substantially when you make a large investment. On that note, if you only have one bathroom, a second would definitely help sell your home faster and for more money. Replacing the floor covering or the wall colour will not cost as much as a full-blown renovation that replaces and rearranges the toilet, the sink, the shower or bathtub or one that expands the room size. On the other hand, installing a spacious, doorless shower, a hot tub, or an extra-large vanity topped by an oversized mirror in addition to new walls, flooring, and lighting
will put your price tag on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Do you need a new toilet? Get it. Is your vanity too small? Replace it. Is the tile cracked or the linoleum peeling back? It is time for a floor makeover. Be practical. You do not want potential buyers cringing at the sight of an old toilet or rusted showerhead, but you want to recoup as much money as possible from the sale. If you overspend on luxuries, you may still make the sale, but not at the full amount needed to at least break even for your efforts. The point of this walk-through is that making permanent alterations unique to you can cost you when it is time to sell. For example, prospective home buyers won't necessarily view the expensive solar system painted on the ceiling in the dining room as a benefit. Some may even want to have it removed at your expense for them to consider buying. Are you considering upgrading a century home to include basic systems such as air-conditioning, upgraded electric, or new ductwork? Or entirely replacing the heating and air units in a more recent model home? Do not expect home buyers to be willing to pay the cost or for the appraisal to reflect what you spent. There are certain things home buyers take for granted, including central heating and air, functional plumbing, and electricity. If a home lacks any of these, the value goes down drastically. However, value is not affected when these are present, even if you spend thousands on the best in the industry. You may get some bonus points for more efficient and environmentally friendly equipment, but not much else. This also goes for buying new gutters. On the other hand, improvements on necessities such as new siding or a new roof will often yield a higher return than the
equally important but unseen repairs to electricity, piping, or central heating and air. While you're living in your house, enjoy yourself. Make yourself comfortable. You have a right to be happy. However, you do not want to break the bank when making improvements if you are only doing it to increase appraisal or sale value. Making your money back is not guaranteed, and the risk of loss is significant in many cases. It is not easy to strike a balance between what makes you happy and what will make the buyer happy. Ultimately, it is very subjective. Of course, what you like and what potential buyers want will differ, but you can do your best to avoid over- personalizing to help make the sale. After all, every buyer needs a place to call home because we all know there's no place like it.
CHAPTER 4 Design & Feature Trends t ends to Avoid; Improvements That Add Value FEATURES TO AVOID There are home remodelling or upgrade projects that won't likely increase your home's value at the time of resale. There are also outdated fashions that just scream, "update me." These are some things to consider. Inconsistent Architecture A home containing a hodgepodge of architectural styles can be off-putting to a potential home buyer. For a ranch-style home, featuring columns on the front porch can be as jarring as a log- cabin-styled home with art deco accents. Each architectural style has its own inherent beauty, so emphasize these factors. If you don't, it can be like eating pickles on ice cream! Oversized Kitchens Hold the rise of celebrity chefs responsible for this one. Kitchens with every appliance imaginable and too much space can be off- putting to prospective home buyers who do not engage in serious entertaining. Unless you are hosting lavish get-togethers with a team of cooks, it may be time to divide the kitchen into segments, like a cozy breakfast nook and a sit-down family table. Faux "Old World" Design By decorating or emphasizing a European style (for example, the region of Tuscany has a distinctive and popular style), you may hope to capture the elegance of the area. But bear in mind, unless you are sourcing the materials (and a vineyard to boot), there will always be something inauthentic about channelling 20
Europe in another region of the world.
White Appliances If your appliances are white, it is time to upgrade. White may have been at one time a colour of choice to emphasize a spotless home (everything shows up on white!), but that is precisely the problem. Home buyers will subconsciously feel the toil associated with wiping every surface down or see lingering stains that will never come out. In addition, plastic materials fade over time, turning into a non-uniform yellow. As a result, you might find black appliances or stainless steel more appealing. Wallpaper Wallpaper makes a bold statement in a home. However, that same boldness may put off buyers, especially if the wallpaper is cheap, old, or common. In addition, removing wallpaper is a labour-intensive process that can make prospects cringe at the thought, especially considering that the removal of older wallpaper may damage the walls and create more headaches. Moreover, wallpaper can be a source of undetected mould growth. Stick with paint instead. Carpeted Bathrooms There may have been a time when stepping across the primary suite onto an icy, cold tiled floor made a carpeted bathroom seem like a brilliant idea, but that time is over. That's what bath mats are for. Placing carpets and water in the same room is simply asking for mould growth or damage. Some modern homes have heated flooring, which is a huge selling point to potential home buyers and far preferable to the hygiene nightmare of a carpeted bathroom. Gaudy Gold Fixtures and Hardware Metallic finishes can give your home warmth and sophistication, but if you have shiny gold fixtures and hardware, consider
removing them. Gold carries a needlessly flashy and gaudy look that may appeal to nouveau riche buyers, but most home buyers find it as outdated as the '80s. Instead, opt to replace these fixtures with warmer metals, such as polished brass or brushed nickel. Tiled Countertops Your kitchen and bathroom countertops play a huge part in the eye of a potential home buyer. If they're tiled, consider replacing them. At one time, this trend seemed modern, but the nitty- gritty involved with maintaining tiled countertops can be unappealing to some. Think about it — what do you do if a tile chips and needs to be replaced? Are you prepared to clean the porous grout regularly to prevent mould and bacteria growth? It just makes the already-unwelcome chore of cleaning the kitchen that much worse. Cheap Wood Paneling Wood-panelled homes are beautiful. If you have stunning wooden wainscoting throughout your home, leave it alone. However, if the walls of your house contain cheap wood panelling meant for a church basement bingo game, remove it immediately. Lower quality wood panelling instantly dates your home and screams "cheap" to those looking. Worse, it may imply that the panelling was used to cover larger problems, like a lack of insulation or unfinished walls. Taxidermy Animal heads on display will not appeal to every home buyer, so it's best to remove that moose head when selling. That said, it may not hinder a sale in certain regions of Canada, where hunting is popular. On the same note, similar items, like a bull's skull strategically placed over a mantelpiece or in a garden, will only appeal to a specific crowd. Remember that your goal is to make your home an open template so any prospective home buyer can envision living in the house.
Linoleum Flooring No one likes walking across sticky linoleum barefoot. Simply put, get rid of linoleum flooring. At one time, it was a popular option, especially in the case of patterned linoleum that could mimic wood or tile flooring. Nowadays, linoleum is almost synonymous with inexpensive apartments and a careless sense of decoration. Instead, opt for flooring materials like hardwood that are comfortable and visually appealing. If vinyl is your favourite choice for flooring, opt for vinyl strip flooring. There are some great choices that are virtually indestructible and classy looking. Popcorn Ceilings If a home contains a popcorn ceiling (also known as textured or stucco), it instantly communicates to a buyer that the home has not been modernized. Popcorn ceilings were popular from the 1950s-1980s as an inexpensive, ubiquitous alternative to cover imperfections and unadorned drywall. To modern eyes, it looks more like a dreary Motel 6 than a warm home. Removing popcorn ceilings, like wallpaper, is a labour-intensive affair, so be sure to get it done before your open house. In addition, look for asbestos, which can make or break a closing if detected by a buyer or inspector. Asbestos can be hard to identify, so it is best to have it tested in a lab and be sure to contact the lab prior to beginning any work. Glass Mosaic Backsplash One of the most common trends from the mid-2000s is a glass mosaic backsplash for your kitchen or bathroom. While it may have looked good then because of its relative scarcity, it is much more common today. Consider replacing it with marble tiling or plain white subway tile to obscure your home's last appointment with an interior designer.
The first thing a home buyer notices when viewing a house is often the colour — first the exterior and then the individual rooms. Essentially, this first impression sets the stage for the home's other features, including furnishings, decorations, and architecture. If a bold colour, like light pink, is applied to the exterior, potential buyers that like to blend in may be scared away. On the other hand, if a room is too dark (dark red) or too bright (chromatic yellow), some great features of the home may be obscured as they compete for visual attention. Neutralizing your home is the best option), as buyers can project their own colour palette to their tastes without being influenced by your preferences. Converted Spaces We often enjoy seeing our spaces fit our personalities, lifestyles, quirks, and interests. Of course, that works just fine when you're living there, but when it comes time to sell, you may want to bring rooms back to their original purposes. For example, if you've converted your garage into a place to run your small business, exercise room, or music practice room, be sure to bring it back to its normal garage-only state to appeal to the largest number of home buyers. This is especially true for city listings where parking is limited. Similarly, a prospect may prefer to see an extra bedroom rather than the small office or storage space you repurposed. Carpeting Most home buyers prefer hardwood floors when purchasing a home, even if you have recently taken the trouble of installing new carpet. Unfortunately, people may assume that the previous residents' germs, pet dander, and dirt are still present since it is nearly impossible to clean carpet completely.
Furthermore, the carpet colour choice for the room may clash with their sensibilities or decorating ideas, leading to another item on their mental "To-Do" list when the time comes to customize the home. Hardwood flooring is a happy medium of natural hues and allows the ability to customize. Should the home buyer want carpet, then all they have to do is install it on top of the wooden surface. Too Much Landscape In recent years, there has been a trend of introducing the "outdoor living room" to holistically connect nature with the home. Trimmed bushes in ornate shapes, carpet-like moss walkways, elaborate gardens, and ponds are all visually appealing, but there's a catch. A property requiring constant maintenance may make potential home buyers hesitate, especially if their future finances are uncertain. This also includes the recent trend of urban farming. While you may enjoy fresh eggs, honey, and chevre daily, others may not relish the thought of daily upkeep that animals require and the implications about your home's cleanliness, so it's best to leave no signs that your home was once a farm. Hot Tubs and Pools There may have been a time when a pool was considered a selling point for new homeowners, but many home buyers realize how much of a maintenance issue and eyesore it can be. This is especially true for above-ground pools, which take up a large amount of space, create a safety and liability hazard for children and guests, and leave an ugly spot of dead grass when removed. If you install an above-ground pool to have fun with your kids, be smart about it and do it so that it is easy to remove with minimal repairs to the lawn or decks.
This is true for hot tubs, too. Hot tubs are notorious as a breeding ground for bacteria, can be difficult to maintain, and removal from a deck or backyard may lead to even more expense down the line (e.g., rebuilding a portion of your deck where the hot tub once was). Whirlpool Bathtubs Whirlpool bathtubs may once have been considered an item of luxury and a major selling point, but tastes have changed in recent years. Those who have owned or used them may have enjoyed the luxury but realized how much water they use (between 80 – 100 gallons) and how much space is taken up that could be used for other bathroom features such as a bigger shower space or a dual-vanity counter. Minimalist Design Outfitting your home like an urban loft space has long been a trend in interior home design, but this may not be your best option for selling your home. Minimalist design in this style can make homes seem unnaturally empty without emphasizing the natural personality of the home that's attractive to home buyers. Instead, you should aim to add accents without creating a barren look. Subconsciously, an overly minimalist design communicates to buyers that the home shouldn't house furnishings and decorations, which may be at odds with the buyer's intentions. IMPROVEMENTS THAT ADD VALUE AND HELP A UE AND HELP AT THE TIME OF SALE Neutral Colours Agents, interior decorators, and potential home buyers — what do they have in common? They all prefer neutral colours. Whether it's showcasing your home's features without
distractions or removing the "personality" from the house, the choice of colours is very important when selling your property. Picking a neutral colour like beige or cream helps stoke the interest of those looking at online photographs. Just imagine a bright yellow house on your computer screen! Let's look at some neutral colour trends to help you sell your home: • Green: A mid-range green, not too dark and not too light, can be a versatile colour to bring out the best in your home. Green has a cheery, homespun coziness when paired with yellow, but it also brings out the rustic features of the home when paired with an appropriate shade of brown. This is especially true for wooden cabinets in a kitchen or bathroom, creating an inviting atmosphere. However, caution should be used for using green against shrubbery or bushes. • Gray: In terms of sophistication and modern design, gray is an excellent neutral colour. It can help accent colours stand out (like a bright green lamp or a red plush chair) or be the focal point when used as a darker shade to enhance urban-styled furnishings. Of course, gray can be a bit dull and business-like if not used with caution, so experiment with different hues to achieve the desired effect. • White: White is an excellent colour to make your home's features pop. White matches just about every colour, whether it's used on the wainscoting, awnings, or ceilings. However, it should be noted that many shades of white are available, and not all are created equal. Also, 27
remember that while white IS a neutral colour, it shouldn't be overused. Painting your entire interior white makes it seem like an unfinished home, or it may be too bright. However, white is a perfect complement to other neutral colours, as long as you're willing to keep it clean. • Red and Orange: These colours are a bit of a gamble when it comes to finding neutral hues. A soft red or orange works well for kitchens or dining rooms, where they exude a natural warmth and a vibrant, festive atmosphere. However, a dark red or orange can seem too serious for rooms. • Blue: For many people, light shades of blue have a soothing, tranquil effect. Blues should be reserved for master bedrooms, bathrooms, or rooms with lots of natural light, as these conjure subconscious feelings of the beach or a pleasant vacation in one's memory. Dark blues can have a stern, ominous effect, like storm clouds or nighttime, and should only be used with caution where there is plenty of light or where that atmosphere is not at odds with a room's obvious purpose (e.g. a study). • Brown: Brown and its variants are excellent colours to choose for your home. From dark earthy browns to the ever-present beige, brown is a versatile hue that is a great replacement for places where white would seem like an obvious choice. In addition, dark browns give off a cozy feel that can keep a room from feeling too big. Just be careful not to overdo it, as home buyers may make a snap judgment that the size of the room seems too small.
Once you've chosen which neutral colours best suit your home, don't forget that adding a splash of colour can bring a room to life. A light blue room with a splash of orange can open it up and play on the contrasts. Try to keep the colour ratio at a maximum of 80% neutral and 20% others to avoid having colours clash. Craftsmanship Authenticity is a big factor in selling your home. Many can claim to have replicas, but to feature a genuine display of artwork or artisanal furnishings and features (e.g. a custom fireplace or ornate woodwork on the stairs and trim) can be a key factor in convincing a prospective home buyer that your home is the one they want to buy. Bold Front Door An easy way to snag buyers is to emphasize your house's curb appeal with a boldly painted front door. A dark red door among neutral colours can have potential home buyers eager to see what else the home features. Embracing Textures It is widely believed — mistakenly — that a neutral home must be a boring home. In reality, many neutral features could work well with some creativity. Do not be afraid to experiment. For example, mixing wood grains with plain window dressing can work, as can faux fur with exposed brick. This can be especially interesting visually, as it emphasizes or deemphasizes different features depending on your colour and texture combinations. Shape and Space Considerations Don't forget to use the room's shape to your advantage when selling your home. Instead of large wraparound couches, more elegant pieces of furniture can create a visual impression of space and utility, which is a proper use of minimalism. Think about the flow of traffic and the way people walk through your home. Make it easy.
Emphasizing organizational systems of the house, like hidden closet space or functional artwork, can open up new possibilities to potential buyers and have them already mentally unpacking all of their possessions before they even see another home. Open Layout If you have two adjoining rooms with a similar purpose, consider knocking down the walls to create an open floor plan. For instance, a kitchen and a dining room can be combined to create a more open atmosphere for entertaining guests and family, which is a great selling point for home buyers. The same can work for a dining room and a living room, forming a "great room" space that can create a stunning impression for those that visit the home. Before removing any walls, be sure to contact a trusted contractor, engineer, or designer. Universal Designs Considering that many homeowners will be approaching their twilight years soon, having handicap-accessible features that can accommodate older families can be a huge selling point. This can include roll-in showers, floating cabinets/sinks, wide doorways, and wheelchair-accessible entrances, to name a few. Many features designed for seniors or those with disabilities will be very beneficial to them and won't bother other homebuyers, so consider incorporating them, especially if your home is located in a retirement-age area. Make It Green The "Green" (environmentally friendly) remodelling trend is here to stay. From increasing energy efficiency and healthier indoor environments to using sustainable materials, making your home greener is an attractive feature to home buyers who want to save money (including federal/local subsidies for participating programs) and feel good about contributing to the welfare of future generations.
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