• Melanie Evans

How Much Should You Invest On Improving a Home You Are About to Sell?


Some Waterloo Region home sellers are often confused about how much work they really need to put into their home before they sell it, and, perhaps more importantly, how much they should spend to see a good ROI on improvement investments.


Many houses really do require work in preparation for the market, which costs money. Your motivation for moving will determine how much you are willing to invest to get your house ready.


A good basic philosophy is to put one dollar in where you can get two dollars back. Otherwise, don’t do it. But it is often more complicated than that. Here, with that in mind, are some basic tips.


Start on the Outside:



The old saying “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” is true of the exterior of your house. Curb appeal is key to drawing potential buyers into your house. Even though most homebuyers begin an initial search online, if they live even relatively locally it's not unusual for them to head off for a weekend drive to check out homes for sale before they commit a larger chunk of their time to viewing them.


Ensuring that your house is well-polished on the outside will invite prospective buyers to see what is on the inside. In some cases, the curb appeal is limited because of the type of lot, or position of the house on the lot, or even the time of year, but you should still do the very best you can.


Some basic things that you can do to increase the curb appeal of your house:

  1. • Keep your garage door(s) closed.

  2. • Remove old screens and clean the windows.

  3. • Store old and beaten up cars elsewhere.

  4. • Apply a fresh coat of paint to the front door.

  5. • Keep the lawn edged, cut, and watered regularly.

  6. • Trim hedges, weed flowerbeds, and prune trees.

  7. • Remove any large shrubs that might block your house from view.

  8. • Apply a fresh layer of mulch to the beds surrounding your house.

  9. • If possible, plant some flowers.

  10. • Power wash the driveway and walkway leading to your house as well as the porch, deck, and patio.

  11. • Inspect and repair peeling paint on doors and windows.• Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles.

  12. • Repair loose siding and caulking.

  13. • Re-seal an asphalt driveway.

Your real estate agent can assist you in making the proper choices regarding what should be done to create the desired curb appeal for your house. You may have lived with that faded front door for so long that you barely even notice it anymore, but potential buyers will notice it in a heartbeat.


Many of the outdoor improvements you can make to your Waterloo Region home to improve its curb appeal will often only really cost your time and effort. If you don't have much of the former paying a handyman or landscaper to undertake some of the tasks you can't is a good investment.


Interior Considerations




Strong curb appeal will invite potential Waterloo Region buyers inside, but the interior must meet the expectations set by the exterior of the property from the get go. The goal of making your house look and smell clean is to give potential buyers a sense that your house has been well-maintained. Nobody wants to buy someone else’s mess.


The top three home improvement categories that get you the best returns on investment - and that once again will cost more of your time than money - are:

  1. Decluttering: Get rid of junk! Potential buyers want to be able to envision their furniture fitting into your house. Clutter can make a spacious room seem cramped. If your house has too much furniture, consider taking some things out and putting them in storage. This often results in a 250% ROI.

  2. Vertical Surfaces: Paint walls and clean windows. Repair and patch any holes in the drywall and remove stains. These simple improvements bring a two-for-one return.

  3. Horizontal Surfaces: Clean your carpets and repair hardwood floors. Replace cracked tiles in your kitchen and bathroom. This also brings a two-for-one return.

In addition to all these, you should give your home an overall deep-cleaning. Your floors, bathrooms, windows, and kitchen should shine. Repair any other obvious defects (like leaky faucets).


Remove all personal items (jewelry, knick-knacks, etc.) for safekeeping. And do your best to get rid of smells that might offend buyers, especially if you own pets or if you smoke. A good cleaning and a dehumidifier will eliminate the smell of mildew, common in basements.


Simple home staging can also improve the aesthetic appeal of the interior. A professional stager can help you arrange your furniture in the most buyer-friendly way and although it may seem expensive at first, we have found that the ROI is excellent for the majority of home sellers.


Big Home Improvements


If you are planning to sell your home soon, unless a room or area is in terrible shape, paying to renovate it completely – or even partially – may not pay off. However, each home is unique and, in some rarer cases, a larger project - like a kitchen or bathroom upgrade - will net sellers a good return.


Before you undertake any large project prior to a home sale, consult with a trusted real estate agent. They not only have a great understanding of what sells a home in general, but the specifics that buyers in your neighbourhood are currently looking for and which investments in home improvements have actually had an impact on recent local sales.




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