Ought we renovate before listing?

Forward-looking couple ponders best plan for sale

BY SARAH KELSEY, NATIONAL POST FEBRUARY 17, 2015
Ought we renovate before listing?

Any renovation prior to listing should take into account its potential for return on investment upon resale

Photograph by: Photographee.eu , Fotolia

Janet and Don Kilpatrick are like many seniors living in the 905 region: They own their family home, are actively involved in their community and have no desire to move.

Given their age, however, they realize a sudden health crisis would necessitate downsizing. "With the thought of an inevitable sale sooner or later, we are doing minor updates [to our home]," Ms. Kilpatrick said when reaching out to Primed Property. The pair has consulted with an interior decorator about wall colours, and they're actively minimizing clutter in their space.

The big question mark for them is the kitchen. "The cabinets are laminate, dated and streaked," she adds, "and the countertop is a mess." The couple has been debating what upgrades to make to this all-important space.

"Would new owners prefer to buy a house with an outdated kitchen at a savings, or pay a higher price for a move-in ready kitchen?" Their ultimate goal is to make the right renovation investment now to ensure a swift sale down the line.

While it's true kitchen alterations provide the greatest return on investment - from 75% to 100% - broker Barbara Beers suggests the couple be wary of tackling a major redesign of the space.

"If this is a traditional older home, a younger couple may want to open the walls and ultimately change the kitchen," says Ms. Beers, who works with Royal LePage in the Burlington region. "It would be a shame, then, to spend $50,000 on a renovation."

Her overall advice to people in a position similar to the Kilpatricks' would be to avoid costly modifications unless the plan is to remain in the house for at least five years post-upgrade.

"It would be difficult to recover a major expenditure within a year unless our market prices dramatically increase," Ms. Beers says, speaking of the real estate landscape in the Greater Toronto Area. "[This] market... enjoys steady increase, but does not skyrocket like Toronto."

The best thing the Kilpatricks can do for their property is to work with a professional to determine how to give the kitchen an inexpensive yet impressive facelift.

"Consider painting the cabinetry, updating the hardware and light fixtures and perhaps replacing or updating the counter," Ms. Beers says. "Even updated appliances, which would entail minimal expense, would make [the home] more appealing and sellable."

Ms. Beers also suggests people in a similar situation cater to whom they think will eventually buy their home. Consulting a real estate agent for an appraisal may help.

"If you know the home's price range is going to appeal to a 30-something buyer, you must make sure you chose a kitchen that will appeal to that age group," she says.

In other words, ensure alterations are on trend. "If it looks like [someone who doesn't know design] chose the new kitchen, the potential buyer will discount the renovation and price, so a seller may not be able to recover anything from their investment."

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Diane Cameron

Diane Cameron

REALTORĀ®
CENTURY 21 A.L.L. Stars Realty Ltd.
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