I’ll make you a bet. As soon as you considered selling your home, you began to wonder: Should I renovate my kitchen or update my bathrooms? The motivation isn’t to provide the next buyer with a brand new floor or tile, but to add value to your home that translates into a higher selling price.
But is upgrading your home right before you sell smart? No. And yes.
The reality is that not all home improvements are created equal. When it comes to investing in the single largest asset you own the last thing you want is to sink money into a project only to find out the upgrade is a sunk cost.
For instance, if you spend $50,000 renovating your kitchen that doesn’t mean your home will fetch another $50,000 in the open market. After years of studying home renovation returns, Remodeling Magazine pegs a kitchen reno return at somewhere between $0.55 to $0.65 for every dollar spent. Ouch.
But that doesn’t mean upgrades and renos before listing a home for sale doesn’t help increase the market value of your home. The key is to find the right upgrade in order to maximize your return.
For instance, you may want to step away from the standard list of home renovations, such as kitchen remodels and basement suite retrofits. Turns out these renovations don’t always pay you back.
Instead, consider the five home improvement suggestions listed below. Not only do these five reno ideas add function and value to your home but they won’t break the budget. By doing home upgrades such as these you’ll be able to increase your home’s value and appeal to potential buyers.
Focus on curb appeal
This starts with checking for repairs or updates. For instance, check the roof for missing tiles, refresh exterior paint and repair discoloured brickwork and power wash dirty paths and driveways. Even better, consider these seven fast and cheap ways to add curb appeal to your home.
#1: Paint the front door
One of the easiest ways to boost curb appeal is to paint the front door. A $30 gallon of paint will not only make people stop and stare but will also make your front entry more welcoming. Best of all, choosing the right colour is the hardest part. Opt for something bold and bright, like a cool turquoise or a stately red or sunny yellow. Just make sure it looks good against your siding, trim and roof.
#2: Upgrade your house numbers
Decorative house numbers have come a long way in recent years. There is even an entire font family dedicated to residential houses and commercial buildings called Neutraface. Starting at $30 a number, Neutra House Numbers come in aluminium and black and brass and add a modern aesthetic to any front porch. Regardless of which brand you buy, try to match your new house numbers with the finish that is on your exterior light fixtures.
#3: Address the mailbox
Your mailbox might be functional, but why not make it a statement piece? Whether you have a regular mailbox by the road or a box mounted to your house, upgrading your mailbox can add character and curb appeal to your home. New mailboxes start around $20 and take a few hours to install.
#4: Light it up
Don’t just think about what your house looks like during the day. Nighttime curb appeal is just as important. Upgrading your exterior lighting can radically enhance your curb appeal. New lights can be purchased for $20, but if you’re going for a more vintage look, check salvage shops, too. You might even be able to find fixtures that have the same mounting system as the current ones that you have to save yourself some time.
Walkway and path lighting can also add beauty and security to your home exterior. If you don’t want to deal with complicated and expensive wiring, opt for solar landscaping lights.
#5: Pull up a chair
Create a welcoming nook on your front porch by adding a pair of rocking chairs and a small table, a cosy spot with a bench and a garden stool, or an outdoor swing. Really want to show guests that you’re ready to play host? Grab an antique tea or bar cart that can be used for entertaining both indoors as well as outdoors.
#6: Freshen the flowers
Add some potted plants, hanging planters and flower boxes on the front porch railings to achieve a warm and inviting feeling without serious landscaping or gardening. (Keep in mind, you have to maintain the flowers to actually add curb appeal.)
#7: Class up your garage door
Want a new garage door but don’t have thousands of dollars? Grab a drill and some decorative garage door hardware. For about $10, you can transform a plain garage door into one with a visual impact, which will enhance your curb appeal, especially in a neighbourhood full of similar models.
Finally, make sure that rubbish bins and other unsightly items are tucked out of sight, mow the lawn, tidy up the front beds and welcome your guests with some pretty planters or a hanging basket of flowers by the front entrance.
Tap into the bathroom
There’s no doubt that bathrooms add value. According to recent figures, an additional bathroom installation costing an average of $15,000 CDN can add as much as 5% to the value of your home.
But be mindful of how to spend money on bathrooms because it’s not the quality of the finishes that buyers expect, but the number of amenities.
These days homebuyers expect at least 1.5 bathrooms for every 2 bedrooms, which is what new builds tend to provide. In a 4-bedroom home, this translates to a family bathroom, and master bedroom with ensuite facilities and a downstairs powder room.
So where should you spend your bathroom reno money? If your master bedroom doesn’t have an ensuite bathroom, then spend your money here. On the other hand, if you don’t have a main-floor bathroom, it may be a good idea to invest in a powder room.
In terms of style, design and functionality, the bathrooms in your home should be updated to reflect contemporary standards. That means no plastic towel rails and no soggy shower curtains!
Present a tech-friendly home
Whether your home is a chic urban pad or a rambling country home, present-day buyer expectations include fast internet speeds and a robust mobile reception. If there is a problem with your broadband connection or phone signal, this will need urgent attention to bring your property up to scratch with the competition.
Sometimes, this is simply a case of relocating your router to balance out interference from solid walls and heavy doors or buy a WiFi signal booster to solve the problem.
If you have internet, there are several free tools that can measure your download and upload speeds, along with helpful advice on how to increase your speed, if there’s a problem. If you don’t have broadband or need to upgrade, you can check what’s available locally through comparison websites such as this one.
Another selling feature is how this tech can add security to your home. If you have cameras installed or smart locks, make sure you let potential buyers know, as these upgrades go a long way to providing a safe, secure feeling in the home.
By making small upgrades or modifications to your home’s “tech & connectivity” you can add value to your home without spending all that much.
Woo them with a cozy fireplace
While very few modern day house hunters would willingly choose a property without broadband, a back-to-basics fireplace has an irresistible pull for most potential buyers.
If you already have a working fireplace that’s fed by wood, gas or electricity, make sure this is a standout feature. This means positioning furniture so that potential buyers can sit and chat around the fireplace. Even if the temperatures outside make having a fire impossible, there’s nothing better than a cozy focal point to the family room.
If you have an old fireplace in the house but don’t use it, consider repairing it so the next owner isn’t left with this task.
Finally, if your home does not have a fireplace, consider installing a stylish wood burner or a gas fireplace.
Offer extra outdoor space
If you’re selling a home with a garden then focus on creating a serene outdoor space. This doesn’t mean you need to worry about having the perfect perennial garden, it just means making sure your garden looks healthy, your lawn, beds and borders are tidy, your hedges are pruned and your patio and fences are clean.
Tackle any neglected corners where garden junk may have accumulated and make sure to prune back bushes and trees to maximize space and light.
Finally, consider investing in patio furniture that offers would-be buyers the notion of outdoor space where the new homeowner can relax and enjoy the garden, the view or the peace and quiet.