Ultimate Cheat Sheet On Boosting Your Home’s Resale Value

If you’re a Canadian homeowner considering making some improvements to your property, you’ve probably read about strategically planning projects that will give you the best return on investment (ROI) and boosting your home’s resale value.

While that’s definitely an important thing to think about, there’s a little more to it.

First of all, are you tackling a home improvement project because you want to enjoy it for a few years or are you getting ready to move and trying to decide what things will appeal to potential buyers? Do you have an older home that needs structural improvements or are you just interested in making aesthetic changes to appeal to a larger pool of potential buyers? Are you planning to make minor changes with little out-of-pocket expenditures or do a wholesale renovation with a large investment?

The bottom line is: when you sell your home, you want to receive the highest price possible.

Reno projects rarely return 100% of your investment, so identifying which projects are most desirable, necessary, and valuable will be important before you start.

Let’s take a look the projects that will reflect a boost in both tangible and perceived value:

Tangible Value

Statistics have shown that the following renovation jobs have consistently returned the most for invested dollars. These are considered to have tangible or measureable value and are the most desired features among all demographics. Understand that while some may be among the most expensive, in many cases, the simpler and lower-cost projects often achieve a bigger cost-to-value ratio.

Insulation >100% return

This is one of the rare instances where you can expect more than you spend. This can be a DIY project, but why not hire a professional when you can count on such a great return? You can blow in loose-fill fiberglass insulation or fiberglass batting to achieve an R-30 insulation value. This will help with heating bills while you still live there and will be a great selling point when you’re ready to move.

Front Door
Refinish or Replace 91.1% – 129% return

This reno project has ranked first or second consistently to obtain a great ROI. Your front door speaks volumes before guests, or prospective buyers, even walk through it. Make simple improvements like paint, stain, new hardware, magnetic weather stripping to add to your home’s curb appeal and create a great first impression.

Spend a little more and replace the door with a new steel one and potential homebuyers will see the added value with better home security. As this choice outperforms more decorative fibreglass or wooden doors 7 to 1, it is considered a crucial component among security conscious buyers.

Replacement 96.3% – 105% return

At minimum, your roof must not be missing shingles or be leaking in order to appeal to potential buyers. While candidates may not expect a brand new roof, it will definitely be a great selling point if you need one anyway.

Architectural shingles are trending today for their beautiful textures, rich colours, and durability. Many manufacturers offer 25- and 30-year warranties, some asphalt shingles even offer a lifetime replacement warranty—fully transferrable and a better than the old 3-tab style. While you’re at it, have your contractor install a ridge vent, new gutters and downspouts to complete the look, provide proper ventilation, and keep your home’s interior leak-free.

Manufactured Stone Veneer 92.9% return

Trends among millennials and Generation Xers are bringing back a stone-look to improve the curb appeal of old and new homes alike. While real stone would be costly and difficult to install, manufactured stone veneer provides the look without the hassle. Typical installations replace siding on the bottom third of the front elevation. This is a job for an experienced contractor to maintain water- and corrosion-resistance.

Garage Door
Replace 90.1% – 91.5% return

A good cleaning or fresh coat of paint may be sufficient to provide an excellent first impression, but an inoperable, dented or damaged garage door can provide a high aesthetic and financial return. Hire a garage door specialist to do this dangerous work. They’ll need to remove and dispose of the existing door, tracks, and main tension spring. Adjustments must be made to ensure the door is balanced. As the spring is under hundreds of pounds of torsion pressure, a break or malfunction can cause serious injury.

A mid-priced garage door will actually attain a higher return on investment (91.5%) than an upscale style (90.1%). Buyers expect an un-insulated door with a baked on paint finish, galvanized steel hinges, and a 10-year warranty. If your car door opener is still operating, there’s no need to purchase a new one.

Hardwood Floors
Refinish or Install 91% – 100% return

Natural hardwood flooring is making a big comeback. If you have carpeting hiding beautiful wood floor, you’ve found a treasure and need to pull up the carpeting. If your hardwood has some wear and tear, no worries—refinishing them will provide a whopping 100% return on investment.

A new installation will also net you dollars when you sell, so go ahead and add them. They’ll boost your selling price by 3-5% and spend less time on the market. Choose the wood species and colour carefully. While you may like some heavy-grained exotic woods or extremely dark or light stains, sticking with the more traditional oaks and maples will be more appealing to a greater number of buyers instead of acting as a deterrent.

Repair or Replace 83% return

While replacing old or damaged siding with new vinyl siding will improve your home’s curb appeal and increase your asking price, it may not be the best use of dollars just before listing your home for sale. If it’s dirty, you can usually just power wash it. If your home has wood or other type of siding with peeling paint or rotted boards, hire a professional contractor to repair and paint it. You’ll spend less, the job will be done quickly, and you’ll still get a significant ROI.

Replacement 73.3% return

Replace leaking, rotted windows with new wood or vinyl styles. There are a variety of window types—casement, hung (fixed, double, triple), slider, awning, bow, or bay windows—that will give buyers peace-of-mind that your home is draft-free and energy efficient. Add Low-E coatings or gas injection between the panes to reduce heat loss or improve heat gain significantly.

You can choose a retrofit replacement where only the glass and window frame are replaced. This saves time and is less expensive than a full-frame installation that replaces the entire window, framing, jam, trim, and brick mold. This allows for evaluating the structural integrity of the building and may be the better choice if you plan to delay selling.

Finished Basement 70.3% – 83% return

Creating new living space in the lower level of your home will cost one-third to one-half less than building an addition upstairs. Keep in mind that the basement will yield a lower appraisal than the space above ground so experts recommend spending no more than 10% of your home’s value.

Whether you plan a home office, entertainment area, game room, or in-law apartment, make sure to hire a professional contractor to do the work. It’s critical to make sure your basement is moisture-free before the build and that it stays that way to achieve the best return.

Kitchen Renovation
Minor, Mid-range, Major 67%-80% return

Upgrades to Kitchens are always a popular choice. The only difference in the return on investment is how far you want to take it.

  • Minor (83.1%)
    This updates a functional Kitchen without replacing cabinet boxes. White or off-white flat panel doors will appeal to the millennials for their low-maintenance properties, while raised-panel ornate styles will provide an elegant style older buyers will appreciate. Install new hardware in brushed-nickel, stainless, or decorative glass. Replace your laminate countertop with an updated colour and pattern choice, install a reasonably priced sink and faucet. You can repaint the trim yourself to freshen the room without adding much to the cost. Replace sheet vinyl flooring with hardwood or laminate.
  • Mid-range (64.9%)
    If your layout works but your Kitchen is outdated, it’s time to step it up a bit more. Tear out your old cabinets and replace with semi-custom wood. Replace laminate countertops with an upgraded product like high-definition laminate. Put in a new double-bowl stainless steel sink with a basic single-lever faucet, energy-efficient wall oven, cooktop, and built-in microwave/hood combo. Replace the dishwasher, garbage disposal, and add some custom light fixtures. Install a new laminate floor, repaint the walls, trim and ceiling. If you have room, add a movable island too.
  • Major (61.5%)
    This means replacing your old cabinetry with high-end, custom designs with sliding shelves and specialty units (like hidden trash cans, decorative glass doors, pantry cabinets, etc.) A built-in island workstation with pendant lights will attract all kinds of attention. Include granite or quartz countertops, imported glass tile backsplash and all new top-of-the-line appliances. An upgraded undermount sink, decorator faucets, and water filtration system are also a must. Don’t forget new lighting for the room plus low-voltage under-cabinet lights. The new floor should be hardwood, porcelain or 24″ ceramic tiles.

Decks and Patios 64.4% – 75% return

Installing a new deck or patio to expand living space outdoors is a popular trend for all age groups. While adding a simple wooden deck or concrete patio was acceptable years ago, today’s buyers are searching for upgraded building materials and extra features before spending more on homes that include them.

A deck made from pressure treated lumber can actually receive a higher ROI because of its affordability, but you’ll need to include a pergola, built-in benches, grilling station, or other enhancement to excite potential buyers. Composites, exotic woods, cedar, and ipe building materials will provide durability and low-maintenance options but with a hefty price tag that may yield a lower return than you’d like.

Concrete patios only work today if they’re stained or stamped. With a wide variety of colours and patterns, your patio can be a great selling feature. Natural stone or flagstone, pavers, and brick are among the high-end building materials people want today. Here, too, you’ll want to consider adding a firepit, themed garden beds, or water feature to help the best bang for your buck.

Additions 64.1% – 69.3% return

According to a National Association of Realtors survey, “Every 1,000 square feet added to a home boosts the sale price by more than 30%.” With this in mind, adding a Family Room, Master Bedroom suite, Sunroom, Bathroom, or first-floor Laundry Room makes perfect sense to improve your own living space as well as obtaining more money upon selling.

Make sure you equip your new addition with the latest trending styles, ties into existing HVAC, and meets all local building codes. Be careful not to over expand your home or you’ll turn of millennials who prefer a minimalistic approach to housing.

Bathroom Remodel 62% return

An outdated Bathroom will require a lot of work for new homebuyers, so updating yours will definitely add value to your home sale. It’s important to do it right by including two sinks, a custom walk-in shower (in lieu of a whirlpool tub) with body sprays, large ceramic or porcelain tile flooring, and great lighting. Select neutral colours and finishes to keep it looking fresh.

Updated Mechanicals 50% – 75% return

Potential buyers will expect that your HVAC, plumbing, electricity systems are all in good working order. While you shouldn’t go out and purchase a new furnace before you sell your home, it would be helpful to have it inspected and regular maintenance performed. Of course, fix anything that needs repair or replacement as you’ll improve your own quality of life and obtain a nice return on investment also.

Asphalt or Concrete Driveway 50% – 70% return

The condition of your driveway is going to make or break your home’s curb appeal. A cracked, broken, or potholed driveway at the front of your home must be replaced. Asphalt will be the more cost-effective material, but if your neighbours all have concrete driveways, you should consider installing one too. A fresh driveway will help make your home more salable and boost your final selling price.

Perceived Value

Not everyone has thousands of dollars to spend on home improvement projects, so you’ll need to be a little more resourceful if you want to capture the highest price when you sell your home.

There are several things you can and should do to show your home in the best light.

Consider these:

  • Clean and declutter inside
    Clean your home from top to bottom; steam clean carpets, clean cabinets, remove extra furniture in rooms to make them look larger, organize stored items on shelving in closets or hidden away in the attic.
  • Yard maintenance
    Mow the lawn, trim around flowerbeds and sidewalks, rake leaves, trim large shrubs and low branches on trees, remove overgrown landscaping and dead plants.
  • New paint
    Apply neutral colours to the interior and exterior (including the front door and shutters.)
  • Home maintenance
    Replace damaged floors, repair foundation leaks and cracked windows, remove stains from counters, clean grout, replace cabinet hardware, replace burned out light bulbs (and/or replace incandescent bulbs with LED or compact fluorescent, caulk around bath fixtures, replace faucets, and clean out gutters.
  • Doorbell
    Make sure it works.
  • Seal your asphalt driveway
    Unless it’s new.
  • Professional staging
    Many real estate offices offer this service to ready your home for the best possible appeal.

Each of these improvements will help bring out the best features of your home to prospective buyers and the best return on investment when you’re ready to sell. In the meantime, sit back and relax while enjoying the fruits of your labour.