What are the best home improvement projects to undertake?

It depends on your goals and plans. If you're trying to sell your property soon for the highest possible price, your priorities are likely somewhat different than if you're planning to stay for a few years and want to improve your family's quality of life.

If you're selling, focus on the renovations a buyer would be most likely to undertake, not those you're most itching to do. Buyers generally focus on kitchen and bathroom quality, along with overall living and storage space. Kitchen and bathroom remodelling projects are among the most disruptive undertakings, so buyers especially appreciate upgraded fixtures, appliances and décor in these rooms.

Here are ten worthwhile home improvement projects and the percentage of cost typically recouped at resale (in a seller's market):

1. Painting

If you're only going to do one thing, paint. Interior/exterior painting is one of the very few improvements on which you are likely to realize a profit—as long as you choose tasteful, current, neutral colours and the work is very professional. Payback: As much as 300%

2. Kitchen remodelling

Typically, one of the most expensive improvement projects, and you can quickly run up a huge bill. Careful planning and shopping will help minimize costs here. When remodelling the kitchen, remember to keep the project in line with the style and quality of the rest of the house and neighbourhood. Just as there's no point in putting a pricey granite countertop on dated-looking 1970s cabinets, there's no point in installing a $50,000 kitchen in a $200,000 house. Payback: 68-120%.

3. Bathroom addition

If your home has only one bathroom and is meant to house more than two people, a bathroom addition should be one of your top priorities. If most homes in your neighbourhood have two, three or more bathrooms, and yours has just one or one-and-a-half, you will definitely increase your property value by adding a bath. Payback: 80-130%.

4. Bathroom remodelling

Upgrading a pokey bathroom will enhance the value of your home and add to your daily comfort and enjoyment. White porcelain is the safe, timeless choice here. Payback: 65-120%.

5. Finishing unfinished space

Whether it's an attic or a basement, by finishing these spaces you add significant value to your home, increasing square footage without having to build. Payback: 50-90%.

6. Window/door replacement

If your windows or doors are wasting energy or simply decrepit-looking, replacements can be an excellent use of your home improvement dollars. Stick to standard styles; odd shapes and highly customized arrangements do little for resale value. Payback: 50-90%.

7. Deck addition/improvement/expansion

Decks are one of the few exterior improvements with any significant return, apart from painting. Payback: 65-90%.

8. Additions of bedrooms, family rooms, sunrooms, conservatories, garages, etc.

Increasing square footage is almost always an excellent use of remodelling dollars, but don't expand your home so much that there's little outdoor space left. Payback: 50-83%.

9. Home office remodelling

This project is becoming increasingly popular. Be sure to plan for plenty of electrical and cable outlets to accommodate all the required machines and gadgets. Payback: 60-73%.

10. Energy efficiency retrofits

If your primary concern is return on investment, proceed with caution. 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.

Two projects that are unlikely to pay off at resale: swimming pools (which may even adversely affect your property value) and excessive landscaping (buyers may admire it but few will pay extra tens of thousands even if that's what you spent to improve the grounds). And remember that badly done remodelling/renovation projects will cost you in two ways. You won't pay just for labour and materials; you'll pay when buyers see a project that has to be redone.

*The above is taken from HGTV.ca- February 2010


With a little effort on your part, your home can be sold more quickly and at a better price. The following tips have proved invaluable to owners and are worth your special attention:

Preparation For Showing:

  • First impressions are lasting! The front door greets the prospect. Make sure it is fresh, clean, and paint the trim.
  • Keep lawn trimmed and edged, and the yard free of refuse. Reseed the lawn and fertilize, if necessary, weed the gardens, and add mulch. Deep green grass makes a lasting impression. In winter, be sure snow and ice is removed from walks and steps.
  • Decorate for a quick sale. Faded walls and worn woodwork reduce appeal. Why try to tell the prospect how your home could look, when you can show him by redecorating? A quicker sale at a higher price will result. An investment in neutral new kitchen wallpaper will pay dividends.
  • Let the sunshine in. Open draperies and curtains and let the prospect see how cheerful your home can be. (Dark rooms do not appeal)
  • Do the windows and window screens work well and look good? Have the windows spotless.
  • Are the appliances operating properly and sparkling?
  • Fix the faucet! Dripping water discolors sinks and suggests faulty plumbing.
  • Repairs can make a big difference. Loose knobs, sticking doors and windows, warped cabinet drawers and other minor flaws detract from home value. Have them fixed.
  • From top to bottom. Display the full value of your attic, basement and other utility space by removing all unnecessary articles. Brighten dark, dull basements by painting walls and adding brighter light bulbs.
  • Safety first. Keep stairways clear. Avoid cluttered appearances and possible injuries.
  • Pack excess linens and clothing to make closets look bigger. Neat, well-ordered closets show the space is ample.
  • Bathrooms help sell homes. Check and repair grout in bathtubs and showers. Make this room sparkle. Don’t let the Handy Man add gobs of caulking when grout is what you need.
  • Arrange bedrooms neatly. Remove excess furniture. Use attractive bedspreads and fresh-looking window coverings.
  • Have I removed or mentioned to my realtor any attached items that are not included, such as special chandeliers, shelving or garden plants?
  • Am I familiar with similar homes on the market that I may be competing against?
  • Have I asked my realtor for a list of ways I can improve the “marketability” of my home without wasting time and money?
  • Can you see the light? Illumination is like a welcome sign. The potential buyer will feel a glowing evening when you turn on all your lights for an evening inspection.
  • Am I ready to disclose any structural defects such as roof, foundation or wiring problems?
  • Have I started looking for my new home? Do I know what I want in another home?
  • What do I need to do to prepare for my upcoming move?

Showing The House:

  • Whenever possible leave your house for showings, if not, follow the tips below.
  • Three's a crowd. Avoid having too many people present during showings. The potential buyer will feel like an intruder and will hurry through the house.
  • Music is mellow, it is ok to play soft music in the background as long as you can have a conversation. Let the agent and buyer talk, free of distracting disturbances.
  • Pets underfoot? Keep them out of the way--preferably out of the house.
  • Silence is golden. Be courteous but don't force conversation with the potential buyer. He wants to inspect your house--not to pay a social call.
  • Be it ever so humble. Never apologize for the appearance of your home. After all, it has been lived in. Let the trained agent answer any objections. This is his/her job.
  • Remain in the background. The agent knows the buyer's requirements and can better emphasize the features of your home when you don't tag along. You will be called if needed. Allow the buyers to take "psychological possession."
  • Why put the cart before the horse? Trying to dispose of furniture and furnishings to the potential buyer before he has purchased the house often loses a sale.
  • A word to the wise. Let your Realtor discuss price, terms, possession and other factors with the customer. They are eminently qualified to bring negotiations to a favorable conclusion.


Choose an Experienced, Professional Realtor!

Selling your home is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. Your home is likely your largest asset - this may be the biggest financial move you've ever made, one that requires significant thought and strategy.

Countless questions are unearthed during the process. How much is it really worth? How long will it take to sell in the current real estate market? How do you handle buyers making undesirable offers?

It is our job to guide you through this complicated process, from beginning to end. We want you to get the maximum value for your home, within your own time frame. 


1.  Establish the Reasons You Want to Sell Your Home.

Before you begin the selling process, closely evaluate why you're moving. Do you have too little space or too much?  Has your company transferred you to a new city and you're relocating? Or are you simply looking for a change?

A complete analysis of your current position will set a good foundation for your home-selling strategy, as well as for your next home hunt. If, for example, you have already purchased a new home and your goal is to make a quick sale on your current home, this reason will chart the path you take in the home-selling process. If, on the other hand, you aim to net the highest price possible for your home, you need to prepare yourself for a potentially slower process.

Be clear about these reasons, as they will directly influence the amount of time and effort you put into preparing your home for sale, and the amount you set for your asking price.

2.  Buy or sell first? Be clear.

This can be a tricky question. After all, if you find a purchaser for your existing home before you've found a new home, you may find yourself living out of a suitcase if convenient closing dates cannot be negotiated. On the other hand, if you find your dream home before you've sold your old one, you may be faced with having to finance both homes and shoulder the extra debt until you sell.

So how do you manage? It can be quite simple. Do your homework and have a good idea about the neighbourhood and type of home you're looking for. Do an honest evaluation of your family's needs and budget.

Speak to us and start your new home search as soon as your existing home hits the market.

If you've found a home before you've sold your existing one, use "sale of your existing home" as a condition on your offer. If you don't sell your house within a fixed period of time, you can choose not to go through with the offer. This, however, is a difficult condition for many vendors to agree upon and you may find that you have to forgo your price negotiating power.

Purchasing a home before you sell could be a risky strategy if you're counting on the proceeds from the sale.

If you've found a purchaser before you've found your next home, use "purchase of a new home" as a condition when you sign back the agreement.

Again, it will only be for a fixed time. Even if you have not found the ideal next house by the time the deal closes, you may still wish to proceed with the offer. As a buyer with a "sold house" you will be in a better position to negotiate price.

3.  Pricing:

The competitive nature of the current real estate market means that over-pricing by a few thousand dollars could make the difference between your home selling quickly or not selling at all.

Overpricing your home might mean minimized offers, fewer showings, fewer agent responses, limited financing, limited buyers qualified for your type of home, or a smaller net price. Avoid these outcomes by setting the price of your home at its market value when you first list on the market.

Contact us and we will help you price your home competitively to attract qualified buyers. The first step we will take is to generate a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) report, which will show you a range of prices being paid for homes in your area.

4.  Make Your House More "Sellable"

While we all believe that our home is our castle, our personal tastes may not appeal to everyone. We will work with you to provide you with an impartial analysis of your home - how it relates to other "competing" homes on the real estate market and how your home reflects current design and style trends. We'll also closely evaluate the general condition and upkeep of your property.

We will work with you to position your home on the market so that the selling process will take place as expeditiously as possible. Here's how:

5.  Use our Professional Marketing Program to Sell Your Home!

Marketing your home properly is a key factor in getting your home sold in the least amount of time, for the best price with the least amount of stress. I am committed to giving your property top exposure. The first place will be a detailed overview of your home presented with professional photography on my own personal websites, my office website and photography provider website. As well as marketing your home on other popular sites such as Craigslist, Facebook, Twitter, etc. The more exposure your home gets the more people that will come across and possibly want to view your home and make an offer. 

As soon as you list your home with us, I will enter your listing in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database. Where other agents can immediately access your property information by computer.  

Remember, we will be working with you every step of the way to ensure you get the highest possible price for your home in the shortest period of time.


There are 5 main ingredients that make up the sale of your home:


We usually cannot move a home! To coin the favorite phrase of appraisers: "Location, Location, Location.” The pricing of your property must reflect its location.


The upkeep and presentation of your property is crucial to obtain the highest value for your home in any given market at any given time. The pricing of your property must reflect its condition.


The more terms available on your property the more potential purchasers you reach. The pricing of your property must reflect the kinds of terms available to purchase it.


External factors such as interest rates, competition and the economy all make up and influence the state of the market when you sell your home. The pricing of your property must reflect the current status of the market.


Price is the number one factor in the sale of a home. A property is really only worth what one person is willing to pay another to gain ownership of it.


When all 5 of the ingredients are in agreement... we have a sale!


The Market Value of Your Home IS NOT:

What you have in it.
What you need out of it.
What it is appraised for.
What you heard your neighbor’s house sold for.
What the tax office says it is worth.
What it is insured for.
Based on memories and treasures.
Based on prices of homes where you are moving.

The True Market Value of Your Home Is... What a Buyer is Willing to Pay for the Property - TODAY:

Based on today’s market.
Based on today’s competition.
Based on today’s financing.
Based on today’s economic conditions.
Based on the Buyer’s perception of property condition.
Based on location.
Based on normal marketing time. 

As a Seller You Control:

The price you ask.
The condition of the property.
Access to the property.

As a Seller You Do Not Control:

Market conditions.
The motivation of your competition.

Motivation Signs:

AGENT elimination - if agents are not previewing your property, or if they preview, but do not show it, they are eliminating your property.

BUYER elimination - if your home is being shown with no results, buyers are finding better properties in your price range.

In either case, this is an indication that your home is not priced at current market value.

REMEMBER: The Right Price Overcomes All Objections

Data is supplied by Pillar 9™ MLS® System. Pillar 9™ is the owner of the copyright in its MLS®System. Data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by Pillar 9™.
The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.