We’re currently in the midst of a typical hot spring real estate market – but things should slow down somewhat over the summer, as people turn their attention to vacations and other seasonal distractions. However, if you’re planning to join the sellers’ market and put your home up for sale in the fall, now is the time to act; summer is the perfect opportunity to add a few value-boosting improvements. Here are the top 3 areas to focus on.
Planning some major projects? Get the most bang for your buck with our Renovation Rookie’s Cheat Sheet>
Assess Your Appraised Value
A few years ago, the Appraisal Institute of Canada used to post their members’ assessments of which renos had the best ROI bang for the buck. They don’t do that any more, but the top two projects on the list remain the same today: kitchen and bathroom renovations. At the time, the AIC said that renovating these two rooms would see a 75 to 100 per cent return.
Party or not, the kitchen is always the most popular room in the house. It’s also one of the first places people gravitate to when visiting open houses. Bidders will do the mental math deductions for dated kitchen design with ancient appliances, knowing one of the first things they’ll do is replace them. Likewise, there’s probably no bigger turnoff than a grungy old bathroom. (I recall going to one open house where the toilet and sink were a matching shade of pink, likely not manufactured since everyone was high in the 1960s!)
Summer is the ideal time to do a kitchen reno because you can use your barbeque to prepare many of your meals, cutting down on the takeout food budget while your appliances are off limits.
Also read: 4 Spring Renovation Projects To Do Now>
A Fresh Coat of Paint
Interior and exterior painting were the other two projects that the AIC expected could see a 100 percent ROI. Painting is probably one of the cheapest renovation projects you can undertake, with the materials to redo an entire room coming in at under $100. Yet a nice paint job can instantly transform a dated room.
It’s also a fairly DIY-able job. A dozen years ago, my wife and I took possession of our first house on the May 24 weekend. While our friends were out drinking by the lake, we spent it repainting before we moved our furniture in.
Obviously, hiring a professional painter will bump up the budget, but then you free up your weekends to enjoy the weather! If you don’t already have a go-to painter or a good recommendation from a friend, a great place to start is the website Homestars.com for ratings and reviews of painters and every other trade.
Lay Off the Landscaping
Landscaping, fencing, and paving were all items that ranked low on the AIC’s list, with each pulling in only 25 to 50 percent ROI. That said, if you do plan on putting your house on the market in the coming fall or winter, perking up your yard with a splash of colour with some annuals – then taking some highly quality photos to have on display during home visitations – can payoff in spades.
Skip the Swim
Another yard project with a low ROI are swimming pools. Some people love their pools and consider having one as a way to have the cottage experience in their own backyard. But unless you have an overly spacious backyard, you might want to rethink a pool installation. Pools are fairly expensive to install, require regular maintenance, and the bills for heating one can quickly add up.
On a related note, a friend of mine who bought a house that came equipped with a pool that ate up about half of his yard said the only regret was that his relatives would constantly come over to use the pool – and eat and drink their way through his fridge and pantry, rarely bringing anything in return.
Consider this: my main job is as the managing editor of a trade magazine called Renovation Contractor, for renovators and custom homebuilders. In the June/July issue, we profile a contractor who has built a niche business filling in unwanted swimming pools. His company, called appropriately enough, The Pool Fill-In People, buries 50 or 60 pools every year.