You’ve made the decision to sell your home and now your mind is quickly filling with a lengthy “To Do” list. Before too much stress and worry begins to set in, take heart, and repeat a new mantra, “Soap and paint are my friends.” First and foremost, the home should be neat, clean and in good repair. The goal of preparing your home is to attack that honey-do list of irritating repairs and fix-ups. If you’re not looking to “flip” your home, major renovations are not necessary, and they cost more than can be recouped in the sales price. So this is why we say there are 5 upgrades to avoid when selling your home.

Its better to spend a fraction of the cost of renovation, stretch every dollar throughout your home, and get a far larger impact. It’s all about bang for your buck around here. Give the house a thorough cleaning, a fresh coat of paint on your walls AND trim, and replace worn out floors or work surfaces. Rest assured that money spent on soap, paint and flooring will reappear in the selling price of the home.

Resist the Temptation: 5 Upgrades to Avoid:

1) Major Landscaping (hardscape)

While beautiful interlocking or stamped concrete will attract more people to your home, that doesn’t translate into the buyer paying for it. A lot of the value of item is intrinsic; you enjoy having use of it, and that has non-monetary value. When selling, interlock is definitely going to hit a buyer’s approval list, but they won’t pay an extra $10k-$30k because you have it. For curb appeal, focus on looking well-maintained. If you have a wood deck, make sure it looks freshly stained and in good condition. Replace boards that look worn out. For plantings, you will actually get a better ROI by ensuring your garden beds are neat and full of attractive flowers and plants.

2) Fitted Closets

Much like point one, buyers drool over customized closets that store oodles of stuff, but they won’t pay for it. If you have a storage issue, the best thing you can do is get all the extra stuff out of your house by storing it elsewhere, donating it, or selling it. If you still have a lot of stuff with no designated “home”, invest in attractive storage units that will hide it all, and the units can come with you. IKEA will be your best friend.

3) Finished Basement

If it’s not finished yet, don’t start now. A good renovation will start at $30k and up, and you’d be lucky to recoup your dollars. So is it really worth the stress and aggravation? The only exception to this is if all of your neighbours do have a finished basement and/or it is an expectation of the neighbourhood. In this case, its worth a discussion with your realtor to decide the best course of action in your particular situation.

4) Additions

Don’t add on! To do it properly, your costs will far exceed your returns. If you already have a wobbly, shabby or questionable addition, sometimes it’s recommended to remove it. You need permits and the whole process can be long and costly.

5) Major Reno to Kitchen or Bath. Again, think of our new mantra: Paint & Clean. Paint out the cabinets if they are looking old, and replace the doors if they are broken. Replacing counters and floors, if necessary, will ensure your kitchen looks well maintained. Get bonus points for adding a marble backsplash.

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The MOST common mistake we see is home owners who install expensive granite on old, poorly configured cabinets. This is one of the most expensive mistake you can make.

If it is clear that your cabinets are a little worn or poorly configured, a stone counter dooms buyers to accept your kitchen as-is. If we focus on making what you have the best it can be, perhaps with a modern butcher block or custom laminate that has the feel stone, you present a product that is attractive & livable, but allows for future improvements down the road. That counter might even anger buyers who clearly see what you were trying to do, but no counter can improve old cabinets. Please speak to us about our tried and true combination of materials that make any kitchen look fabulous for an amazingly low price.

Doing Nothing is Just as Detrimental as Doing Too Much

Try to avoid the all or nothing line of thinking. Too many sellers either renovate too much or don’t want to do any improvements at all, which is just as dangerous to your net returns.

Home owners say to me, “There’s no way I can know the buyers’ taste. They probably will want to change it all anyway, so why waste my money?” The truth is that a lot of industry research has been conducted on what buyers want, and we know the looks that are timeless. In fact, we have very clear  knowledge of what the majority of home buyers dream about. It is a home that feels bright, spacious AND modern. Pale wall colour with lots of white trim, combined with upgraded lights and fixtures creates this magical feeling. When you opt for classic and timeless, you are always adding value to your home.

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The goal is always to work with what you have and make it the best it can be. Buyers want a feeling of fresh, new, updated & elegant. This does not require full blown renovations. But it does require some elbow grease. If you don’t want it on your elbow, hire some muscle.

When in Doubt, Paint it White

Unless you have excellent condition AND modern colour woodwork or cabinets, paint them all white. Don’t keep maple, or honey oak, or pickled pink, or knotty pine wood just because it is wood. No buyer will ever want to revive the original wood colour, and they will be more thankful that they have wood cabinets or trim in a modern, fresh colour.  Blend all of your woodwork together as part of the architecture of the home and create a unified look.

How do your bathroom vanities look? Worn? Dated? Save the renovation and paint the cabinets white or black, depending on which would suit the room the best. Replace vanity tops with white, black or taupe stone off-cuts from large kitchen jobs.

Does your tub look worn out or do the stains not scrub out anymore? Don’t sell a bathroom that needs a gut job, get it re-glazed white for a fresh fantastic look. White is the only viable colour, as it looks good in the grout lines and doesn’t call attention to the fact that it’s been re-glazed.

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The Smallest Details Make the Biggest Difference

Replacing light fixtures, door handles and faucets can instantly make your rooms feel much more updated without lifting a hammer. Stick to screwdrivers when giving Face Lifts. And finally, the best face-lift of all comes with a bucket of warm soapy water. Go online for a vast resource of cleaning tips and tricks. Scrub, buff, polish, wipe, sweep, & repeat. When a home looks well cared for, it attracts far more buyers than one that looks or feel neglected. Buyers use the small details to form their opinion about the home seller, and whether or not they think the house has been loved and maintained.

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