Personal renovations can make for harder-to-sell homes

Courtesy of Star Phoenix:

Planning a renovation?

You're in good company. According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., two out of five homeowner households renovated their homes last year.

Homeowners spent almost $21.3 billion on home renovations in 2008. More than a quarter of the renovations were the remodelling of rooms.

The majority of home renovations are to update, add value or prepare for future sale. While painting or wallpapering a room would be the simplest and cheapest improvement to a house, Canadian homeowners spent, on average, $12,600 on renovations last year.

Not surprisingly, people living in older homes tend to spend more.

A typical renovation usually centres around making the home more comfortable for its occupants. Kitchens and bathrooms are the two principal areas that benefit from a makeover.

"Renovations that are too personal make a house hard to sell," says Neil Rawnsley, a real estate agent with Royal LePage Coast Capital Realty in B.C..

"Substantial renovations, such as removing load-bearing walls, are difficult and expensive to undo."

He says homeowners should always keep in mind the overall renovation value in relation to the value of the house in the neighbourhood. But not everybody thinks of resale values when they renovate.

"It's not only cost to consider, but lifestyle," says Rawnsley.

He frequently encounters homeowners who decide to renovate instead of selling because they love the area they live in and don't want to move even as their circumstances change. So they embark on improvements that allow them to stay in the house as they get older.

Some renovations are done to address mobility issues for older homeowners. But the layout of some older homes makes the cost of retrofitting for wheelchairs or other mobility aids prohibitive.

When homeowners finally decide to sell, Rawnsley recommends sellers only clean up their houses and perhaps repaint.

He advises them not to take on any renovations in the hope of increasing the value of the property.

"Typically buyers will want to do some renovations to customize their new home," he says.

"It's always good for sellers to leave something for the imagination."

Tyler Frederick

Tyler Frederick

CENTURY 21 Fusion
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