Top 10 Upgrades to Increase the Value of Your Home

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This article, like all of the articles I write about preparing your home for sale, is not a cautionary threat about how your home won’t sell if you don’t stage it or spend thousands upgrading it. Rest assured, anything with 4 walls and indoor plumbing will sell as long as it’s priced right. What I am talking about, is how to max out your return: create the biggest ROI, and get that Top Dollar sale without spending too much to achieve it. If you went to your investment firm and they said to you, “Invest $2 dollars with me today and next month I’ll get you a return of $10.” What would you say? You would say those are pretty darn good returns. This is the housing market right now. No matter your budget, we can maximize your returns.

There is nothing wrong with selling your home as-is, walk away with all of the amazing market appreciation we’ve had over the last 4 years, and enjoy it. This is your choice. Or, if you choose, you can invest a relative small amount in your home and squeeze every last possible dollar you can out of the sale price. 

No matter how the real estate market is performing, staged homes always sell for more, sometimes much more than homes not staged. If you are interested in investing in your home for a better return, read on.

Top 10 List of Upgrades

For most people reading this article, you’ve probably already done some of the items on this list, which means you’re already several steps ahead. Most of these items are not big jobs, they are the small, annoying jobs that add up over time, causing your home to feel worn out or showing its age. Take care of these items, and buyers will be lining up to buy a home that is both stylish and well maintained.

10) Spiff-Up Your Driveway

If your driveway asphalt is in good repair, nothing makes it look new like a new top-coat. It dramatically impacts your curb appeal and makes a great first impression on how you take care of your home. If you share your driveway with a lazy neighbour, do yourself a favour and do their side for them as well, you don’t want it to look like you have neighbour problems.

If you have interlock, re-level and repair any wobbly bricks. Remove all weeds so that there isn’t one speck of greenery growing in the cracks. These jobs are weather-permitting, of course. So if it stays cold until you are ready to sell, never fear, the inside of the home is what matters the most to the majority of buyers.

9) Patch Holes in Drywall

Over the decades, pictures have moved and left anchor holes behind, a hockey stick sliced the wall, and moving the sofa left a dent in the hall. As you might guess, painting is also on the list, so go ahead now and patch all the holes scattered over all the walls. Sand and prime so that you’re ready for paint. If you don’t know how, many painters will do this as part of their prep work. Most small holes can usually be filled with some putty, but if it’s a bigger hole, the proper procedure should be followed. Its important that it’s done well, so that the patch job is perfectly smooth to the wall, or else it will stand out once the paint goes on the wall.

8) Clean Your Windows (In & Out)

The easiest way to make your home feel bigger and brighter is to open up your blinds and let the light shine through. Dirty windows block the amount of light that can come through, making your home feel dull. The best way to clean windows is 1:1 vinegar & hot water solution, and wipe off with newsprint. If you have kids, this have them help out and be part of the process!

7) Replace the Faucets in your Kitchen & Baths

Many homes still have builder basic taps that have lost their lustre. They date the house and make these rooms feel old. If your taps don’t sparkle anymore, look for sales on some good quality, attractive pieces. Buyers want a home that feels new, even if it isn’t. This small step of installing 3-4 new taps in your kitchen and bathrooms can cost  as little as $300 and will be the finishing touch if you have nice counters and sinks. If you want to know more about bathroom upgrades, click to read this article.

6) Replace Door & Cabinet Hardware

This is a hard sell for a lot of home owners, but the impact is enormous. For those I have convinced to do so, it can literally take 30 years off the age of a home. It’s like the botox of home staging. And I’m only talking about homes from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, where plenty of work has been done over the years to update the home, but the door handles are always left out, neglected, because its not a fun job.

Cabinet hardware is another easy way to date a house. If they are plastic, wood, or a combination of wood and brass, it’s time to replace. This is a very cheap upgrade that makes a huge difference on how old the house feels. Silver Nickel is classic, though antique gold and black are very popular as alternatives and will be here to stay for some time. Avoid the 1980’s brass and antique rubbed bronze that can be found in abundance at the big box stores – but are already dated and falling out of vogue.

Replace This:

With This:

5) Kitchen Backsplash

It amazes me how many people still don’t have a kitchen backsplash. To see drywall behind a sink or an oven is both impractical and unfinished. Builders want to build homes as cheap as possible, they are not the standard by which to judge how a house should be properly finished. This is also one of the best ways to differentiate your home from the competition, and show your home to be more upgraded and stylish.

If your backsplash area is less than 25 square feet, I urge, beg and plead for you to choose marble. Kitchens are the #1 most important room to buyers, so if you give buyers what they love, your home will be the most memorable. In a smaller space, the biggest cost is the labour; you will see that the savings achieved by choosing a lesser material is not worth the downgrade. Choose the classic, always-loved, never-goes-out-of-style Calcatta, Carrarra, Statuario or Venetino Marble. Choose and interesting mosaic with subtle detail and variation, and you will have a backsplash that looks good for decades.


Photo Credits: unknown

If your kitchen backsplash is over 25 square feet, then I will concede that material cost might come into play a bit more. There are some new porcelain tiles that are looking stunningly like marble. Also, simple white or cream subway tiles, laid in an interesting pattern or in more modern dimensions can give the upgraded impact we’re looking for. If you want to know more about kitchen upgrades, click to read this article

Photo Credits: unknown
You might have noticed by now that this list is full of things people love to have, but hate to install themselves. It’s annoying and bothersome and not fun. And that’s why these tasks add 300-1000X their value. That’s right. If you invest $2000 in your home to ensure it looks polished and well maintained, you can get $6000+ back. We do a thorough market evaluation before making any plans or recommendations.

4) Upgrade Interior Lighting

If you have light fixtures with 1 or 2 bulbs, replace them with a 3-light fixture. All homes feel darker than they should feel, unless you’ve already upgraded your lights. This is not a costly upgrade and it dramatically changes the feeling of the entire home. Flush mounts with a smooth clear bowl start around $25. They’re great for halls, bedrooms, and utility areas. 3-5 light Chandeliers should be used over any table, for $170-$250. Many rooms are lacking architectural interest like quality moulding, built-ins or fireplaces. An elegant and eye-catching light fixture can often become the room’s focal point for a small fraction of the price. You always get 300% return on moderately priced options (not the cheapest, builder-basic, dime-a-dozen styles). Even if you don’t know how to change light fixtures, I guarantee that if you ask around, you will find someone who does. Pay them or gift them for their time, it is well worth the effort.

Below are inspirational pictures; I know some of them are more than $250. In premier homes it’s worth stretching to $500, but Home Depot, Rona and Lowe’s are constantly bringing in better and better well-priced options. If you plan properly, and give yourself the time to order online, the sky is the limit for the beautiful lights you will find.

3) Replace Flooring

This is clearly a more expensive job than replacing door handles or cleaning windows. We only consider replacing floors if:

a) you have the funds

b) if the floor is in rather poor repair

c) only when we are certain (through market analysis) that you will make money on the effort.

It’s not like the buyers would ever know that you even did the work, but when the poor condition of your floor will detract buyers from wanting your home, its worth considering. It’s as much an equity protecting activity, as it is an equity building activity. So if your tile is dated but neutral, or your wood in good repair but is an older honey oak colour, we don’t touch it. We work with it. But if your floors are cracked, worn and past the point of no return, we can provide options, including refinishing where possible, that will ensure your home sells for a higher price than if you left the old floors. 

 Photo Credit Bottom Left: Parkyn Design

2) Replace Counters

Counters are the second surface that can quickly make your home feel old or neglected if they are not in great condition. Luckily, it’s a lot cheaper than replacing floors, and combined with a marble backsplash, you can get real bang for your buck. In executive homes we do sometimes install stone counters, but only if the cabinets are in great condition and have a great layout. Once you install stone, you should never need or want to replace it. So if there’s any possibility that the cabinets could be replaced in the near future, do not bother with a stone counter. We are most often installing butcher block and laminate. Before you cringe, we have very strict rules about laying laminate, that you can read more about it in this article I wrote. With no attached kick-back, keeping to a very limited colour range, and combining with a gorgeous backsplash, we can make any kitchen look elegant and livable, without having spent a fortune or wasted a dime. If you want to read more about how we upgrade kitchens, click to read about a Kitchen Reno and our Top Kitchen Tips


Photo Credits: unknown

1) Interior Painting

And now, the number #1 thing you can do to make your home more appealing; paint your walls and trim!!! Nothing makes your home feel fresh and clean like a new coat of paint. At minimum, repaint all your trim and doors (white, if not already) with a semi-gloss. Take that paint over your cabinets as well if your wood is looking shabby or dated. (No buyer likes pickled pink or black walnut). Then, paint any walls that need to be toned down; stick to soft greens, blues & taupes. This truly takes your home to a new level, it just gives your home a brand new feeling like nothing else.

You always need a colour consultation to get the exact right colour for you home, because the colours we choose are based around your fixed elements like flooring and cabinets. We decide what elements we want to highlight and what elements we want to disguise and we choose colours accordingly. If you want to know about more paint colours we use often, click here to read the article.



Here are some of my favourite rooms that use these colours. I hope that this puts to rest once and for all the question about keeping everything beige. It actually misses the mark on creating that Top Dollar look. Below are soft shades of blue, and green and taupe that highlight the wood floors and make the white moulding pop. The more you can make your home look like a designer, model home, the better you will be. Again, it’s not about spending a lot of money, its about spending a little money very wisely.

Photo Credits: unknown

Take Your Time & Make a Plan

Of course, if you decide you want to sell and have the home listed next week, there is very little we can do to help prepare your home. But most people know for months that they are going to sell; its rarely an overnight decision. The problem is that most people hire a real estate professional as the LAST step in the process. To get the best service and sale price, I would encourage you to flip that process upside down.

We often work with clients for 1 to 4 months before the home actually gets listed for sale, as part of our standard fee. That’s right, you pay no premium percentage for receiving hours of extra hands-on advice, planning and sourcing. If you want to go for a Top Dollar sale, I encourage you to hire us months before you plan to sell, so we have the proper time to make a plan that fits your goals, budget and resources – at NO EXTRA COST TO YOU. We are here to provide the best service on the market and to get you the most money from the sale of your home. If a Top Dollar sale is what you want, then do yourself the favour and find out how we sell homes the better way.

Are you interested in working with us to sell your home for Top Dollar? We are always looking to work with eager, positive-minded clients

Contact The Village Guru Today

Tell us about your home to sell and how you want us to provide an experience that exceeds all of your expectations. If you’re looking for real service, we’re looking for you.