We love home renovation shows. Seeing house and condo transformations makes us want to roll up our sleeves and delve into some home improvements of our own.
As enticing as this process can be, we’re not builders. We’re real estate agents. And sometimes, the changes that excite us most aren’t dramatic overhauls—they’re strategic upgrades.
If you’re thinking of renovating, you might want to focus on improvements that not only enhance the look and feel of your home, but increase its value. Here are 5 cheap ways and upgrades that offer major returns on investment.
1) Refinish your kitchen cabinets
A kitchen can make or break a buyer’s decision to purchase a home. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should spend a fortune to gut and remodel this all-important room. In many cases, focusing on the areas that are most in need updating is your best bet.
In our experience, if you have to refresh just one out-of-date feature, it should be your kitchen cabinets. Because they’re highly visible, unattractive cabinets can make an instant, negative impression on homebuyers.
The good news is, you don’t have to go the full replacement route. We’ve seen fantastic results from refinishing alone. Recently, we even discovered a secret weapon: spray painting.
Spraying your kitchen cabinets will provide a smooth, glossy finish—even on raised panels. There are a number of great companies in the GTA that will pick up your cabinets doors and spray paint them for you. Check out Sharrard Painting, Diamond Spray Finishers, or Awesomewood.
2) Restore your hardwood floors
It’s gorgeous, resilient, and easy to clean. Is it any wonder that home hunters love hardwood flooring?
For many of the buyers we work with, this in-demand feature is more than just nice to have. It’s absolutely necessary. To increase the appeal and overall value of your home, consider replacing less popular flooring types (like linoleum or carpeting) with high-quality hardwood.
Of course, materials and installation can be pricey. While estimates vary, one local flooring shop puts the average total cost for a 1,200-square foot space between $8,500 and $12,400.
If you have an older home, you just might be in luck. Houses built prior to 1960 often have hardwood hiding beneath their carpets. To check, try gently loosening and pulling up the carpet in the corner of one of your rooms.
Just be aware that while it’s usually cheaper than installing brand new flooring, the costs of refinishing old hardwood can still add up.
3) Improve your curb appeal
We always tell sellers that first impressions are important. To help buyers see the potential of your home as soon as they lay eyes on it, try upping your curb appeal.
Start with a general clean-up. For a brighter appearance, we suggest pressure washing. You’ll be amazed by how much dust and grime you can lift off of your walkway, front steps, and home exterior. But be forewarned: pressure washers can damage some surfaces. When in doubt, consult with a professional.
To provide a significant boost to your home’s value, you might want to consider replacing your front door. We recently read that steel-entry doors can provide an incredible 96 per cent return on investment. That said, if you don’t want to do a full replacement, you can still freshen up the appearance of your front door by painting it a memorable colour (like periwinkle blue or fire engine red).
Lastly, whatever you do, don’t neglect your outdoor sitting areas. If you have a front porch that’s looking worse for wear, we suggest sanding and painting it. You’ll probably need an orbital sander. But don’t worry, you won’t have to spend a small fortune to buy one—many home improvement stores rent them out.
4) Do some painting
The cost of adding a fresh coat of paint is minimal, but the impact it can have is anything but.
We’ve always believed that the right colour can rejuvenate a space, highlighting its best features. And now there’s some pretty convincing research to back us up!
According to a recent study, homes with exteriors that are “greige” (a shade that combines grey and beige) sell for an average of $3,496 more than those painted other colours. For home interiors, blues reign supreme (light blue to soft grey-blue shades can boost a home’s sale price by $1,809).
In general, we suggest sticking with warm neutrals, such as blueish-greys, beiges, and off-whites. These shades will appeal to most home hunters, making them safe bets.
5) Optimize your lighting
To say that light matters to homebuyers would be an understatement. Poor lighting conditions can give a home a dingy appearance, and outdated fixtures make an immediate bad impression.
While there’s not much you can do to increase your natural light (short of installing a skylight), you can optimize your interior lighting to improve the overall look of your home. The right designer can help you create an appealing ambiance—a definite selling point if you’re putting your home on the market.
Of course, investing in professional design can be expensive. Luckily, there are plenty of do-it-yourself options. Specifically, we recommend replacing any dim bulbs in your home with brighter versions that cast white light.
When it comes to fixtures, light conversion kits can help you upgrade quickly and inexpensively (enabling you to convert recessed lighting to pendant fixtures, for example). The best part? You can find these kits at most home improvement stores.
Thinking of putting your home on the market? Get in touch, and we can help! Ask us about the value of your home—and how to get it show-ready!