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  • Writer's pictureAron Pinto

Should You Upgrade Your Kitchen Before You Sell Your Home?

When considering home renovations and upgrades that provide a great return on investment, the first projects that often spring to mind are kitchen and bathroom improvements. However, renovating these areas of your home won’t always return a dollar for dollar increase in sales price.

While transforming your dated kitchen into the glossy centerpiece of your home will certainly improve your enjoyment of it while you live there, it’s not always clear whether you should invest thousands of dollars in a big kitchen renovation just before listing your home for sale.

Before you dive into a home renovation to boost the selling price of your Waterloo Region home, be sure to do your research. Check out our tips below.

Did Your Neighbours Renovate?

The first step in planning any home improvement project before selling your home is to take into serious consideration what is typical for comparable homes in your neighbourhood.

You can get a sense of the average home in your neighbourhood by researching real estate listings for homes of a similar age and square footage. If you’re already working with a real estate agent, they can also provide you with comparable sales information for other homes that have sold in the area.

Ideally, you’d find one or two that have renovated kitchens and one or two with older, more lived in kitchens. Compare their listing or selling prices to the listing price you have in mind.

Based on this research, determine (with the help of a real estate agent) if your home will appreciate in value after the renovation, or if it will seem over-priced relative to other homes in your neighbourhood.

Don’t Over Improve

While your research may seem to support the idea of renovating your kitchen, it’s important not to over-improve your home.

What do we mean? For example, don’t invest in granite if the houses in your neighbourhood have butcher block countertops. Don’t splurge on a double wide gas stove if the surrounding homes have builder basic stainless steel. These improvements won’t translate into dollars on the sale price, and may blow any hope you had of seeing a good return on your investment.

Keep Mass Appeal in Mind

Renovating a kitchen in a home that’s about to go up for sale is very different from a kitchen renovation for your personal enjoyment. The point of this project is to create a space appeal to a wide variety of potential buyers, so it’s important to stick to choices that will appeal to the mass market.

This means that seemingly straightforward choices like like cabinet colour, appliance finishes, and flooring will make or break your ROI. If you choose something unpopular, like oak cabinets over white, or cheaper laminate flooring instead of tile, you could end up turning buyers off more than a dated kitchen that they can imagine renovating to their unique tastes.

Small Projects, Big Impact

Contrary to what some television shows would suggest, home renovations don’t have to be “go big or go home”. If you don’t have the budget for a big kitchen improvement project, or your market research suggests a full-scale remodel might not be the best idea, you can still improve the selling price of your home by doing small-scale updates.

Smaller projects like refacing your kitchen cabinets or adding a new tile backsplash may have the transformative effect you’re hoping for without the big price tag.

Focus on Cosmetic Improvements

If you’re sure that upgrading your kitchen is an important part of your selling strategy, make sure to focus on cosmetic improvements. These are the improvements potential homebuyers are sure to notice, and this is what will drive the increased price. Improvements such replacing old linoleum flooring, upgrading appliances from white to stainless steel and painting the walls a calming, neutral colour are all good places to start.

Consider Investing Your Cash Elsewhere in Your Home

No matter what your research tells you, investing thousands of dollars into a home renovation right before selling your home is a risky proposition. You’ll have to choose finishes and appliances to appeal to a broad audience, and at the end of the day, there’s no guarantee you’ll get your investment back. That said, there are other ways to improve your home that will almost certainly help your home fetch top dollar.

These renovations include painting the whole house with neutral, buyer-friendly colours, changing out old light fixtures and door handles, and updating cabinet hardware and smaller design details. These small changes will still make your home more buyer-friendly without costing you tens of thousands of dollars.

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