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Renovation projects that keep on giving

It's a perennial question — what upgrades have the biggest payback?

The question I'm asked most often would have to be, "What renovations give you the most bang for your buck?" And the answer hasn't changed considerably over the years — upgraded kitchens offer a huge return on investment followed closely by updated bathrooms.

Real estate company Royal LePage recently published the findings of a survey about what buyers are looking for and what features get the biggest positive responses. To help sellers decide what to tackle before putting their homes on the market, Royal LePage, in co-operation with the Appraisal Institute of Canada, has put together the following information.

While I don't agree with the approximate cost for kitchen upgrades shown (in my experience new kitchens usually cost $20,000 and up), I think this is good information to keep tucked away. Chances are you will be renovating at some point in your homeowning life because, as a society, we're doing so like never before.

In a press release, Royal LePage quotes a Statistics Canada finding that renovation spending grew by 8.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2007, to $9.2-billion, from the same period in the previous year.

Lisa Da Rocha, vice-president of marketing and communications for Royal LePage Real Estate Services, says, "Amid today's competitive real estate market, renovations offer a relatively affordable means to boost the value of a home. There are some renovations, such as finishing a basement, that a homeowner does for their own enjoyment without much concern for the return on investment. What we have explored within this survey are renovations that are intended to translate directly into enhanced equity in a property."

Ranging from what it calls "reasonable," easy jobs homeowners can take on themselves, to "radical," those projects you'll probably need a contractor for, Royal LePage has identified the following top 11 upgrades and renovations that will increase the equity in your home.

Paint — A new coat of paint in a neutral colour will make rooms look new and fresh. It may even make some rooms look more spacious.

Flooring — Buyers today love hard flooring, especially in dining and living rooms, bedrooms and even bathrooms. Replacing carpeting in these rooms with laminate is a fairly low-cost upgrade.

Lighting — Replace old or dated fixtures with new ones, upgrade switch plate and electrical outlet covers with the latest versions, install dimmer switches in principal rooms, and use energy-efficient compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs where possible.

Curb appeal — To ensure a great first impression, tidy up the lawn and garden; in season, add some annuals for a punch of colour.

Hardware — Update cabinet hardware with sleek new pulls. Stainless steel has been found to have the most impact. Replace worn and tired fume hoods with sleek stainless versions, and kitchen backsplashes with popular glass or, again, stainless tiles.

Entrance — Clear away boots, shoes and other clutter to make it look spacious and capture buyers' attention as soon as they step over the threshold. Keep it simple with only a small hall table — perhaps a demi-lune, with a vase of fresh flowers and an attractive mirror.

Flooring — A second level of flooring upgrade is replacing carpet and laminate with real hardwood. While this is more expensive, it has instant impact and does result in an increased return on investment.

Privacy — A fence ensures privacy from neighbours and provides a safe enclosure for kids and pets. Adding a deck helps make a yard seem finished and extends the living space to the outdoors.

Main-floor bathroom — This is an essential feature today, especially in older homes where the bathroom was traditionally relegated to the second floor. See if you can find a main-floor nook — perhaps a closet — to transform into an efficient, two-piece powder room.

Ensuite — A full-service bathroom off the master bedroom is a real draw for buyers. They're looking for spa-like spaces with air-jet tubs, granite, marble, good storage features and upgraded faucets.

New kitchen — The more preferred finishes and features include stainless-steel appliances, stone countertops, ceramic sinks and clean lines on cabinetry. Again, keep colours neutral to appeal to the widest variety of tastes.

Posted on Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 06:57PM by Registered CommenterElaine | Comments3 Comments | References1 Reference

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Reader Comments (3)

This is a nice post. I agree that upgraded kitchens offer a huge return on investment followed closely by updated bathrooms. These are the key points discussed here that can add a lot to the value of the real estate property and your homes.
August 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPropery in Brazil
Hi, we have included your blog into our real estate directory relating to Toronto Real Estate because of the insightful content that is provided.

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August 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTim
The problem I find is that most people are in shock when a contractor tells them it well cost $7,000 for a bathroom or $20,000 for a kitchen renovation, and they fail to consider how the renovation will effect their property value. The decision to renovate or not to renovate depends on your long term plans for the property. If you plan to move in the near future then renovating your kitchen or bathroom is a good idea. If you plan to stay in your home for the next 25 years then consider what best suits your needs and budget.
October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRod

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