When prepping a home for sale, small updates and fixes can go a long way toward increasing a home’s value and making it more attractive to potential buyers. For the most part, buyers want a home that’s move-in ready. If a house has a number of overlooked maintenance issues and outdated features, it can be taken as a sign of homeowner neglect and scare buyers away. The less buyers have to think about repairs and updates, the more they can think about moving in and making it their own (and putting in an offer).
While each house has different areas in need of attention before listing, there are some go-to updates that consistently give high return on investments. We talked to five of the biggest real estate agents in the city about the best small, fast updates you can do to increase your home's value by more than the cost of repair.
1. David Batori: Fresh Paint Gives the Best Return on Investment
Paint makes old look new again, which is exactly what you want when selling a house. If you spend $2,000 to $4,000 on paint, you’ll usually see a $15,000 to $20,000 dollar return on it. Not too shabby! Batori and his stagers go for light, neutral colours for the interior. Light greys and off-whites will brighten up the home and appeal to a wide range of buyers. Stay away from brown colours or anything too flashy — the wrong colour can sometimes turn a buyer away from the whole house. As a general rule of thumb, if it’s been over two years since the last paint job, it’s a good idea to repaint.
2. Patrick Rocca: Swap Out Fixtures Instead of Renovating
Rocca doesn’t recommend getting into bigger projects with clients who are selling — it's very likely the buyer will want to reno to their own taste. Replacing outdated fixtures, however, can give your home a modern touch for minimal investment. Things like old toilet bowls and light fixtures from the 80’s can be swapped out easily and cheaply. Malfunctioning fixtures can also immediately turn off buyers, so replace all those leaky faucets. Bonus Tip: Double check all of the light bulbs, and change where needed.
3. Peter Kunz: Updates for a Great Front Door Experience
You never get a second chance to create a first impression. When buyers approach a house with a slick, bright front door, a spotless front porch, and a gleaming new mailbox, that’s their first impression. And it’s a great one. Kunz recently sold a house for nearly $200,000 over asking, and partially credited the success to installing brand new garage doors and repainting the front door. Always repaint or refinish scratched and dented front doors, tidy up the porch and foyer, repair any broken screens, and replace the mailbox if it’s grungy looking. Ensure the doorbell works, repair door locks and test out the keys you give to your agent for showing the home. During winter months, make sure the pathway is shovelled.
4. Heather Holmes: Refresh the Bathroom
When a buyer sees a grimy shower, not only are they grossed out, but they are left with an impression of poor maintenance in the house. Cleaning up the grout and caulking in a bathroom is a small, inexpensive upgrade that outweighs the otherwise negative impression it gives a buyer. In less than one day of work, you can recaulk any old silicone or grout and really scrub everything down. You may also want to repair or replace chipped or cracked tiles. Holmes' takeaway: sellers should look to eliminate anything that will give the buyer doubt in the condition of the house.
5. Matthew Wise: Lawn Cleanup & Landscaping Enhances Curb Appeal
If the potential buyer doesn’t like the exterior, they might convince themselves that they don’t like the interior upon entry. Mitigate unfavourable first impressions with a lawn cleanup and simple exterior landscaping work in the front yard. Hire a professional to do a lawn cleanup, trimming, and planting; spruce up your front porch by adding urns or planters with colourful flowers. An attractively landscaped and well-maintained yard will up your home’s curb appeal, and can add thousands to its value and cut the time it takes to sell.
Think of your home as a product to sell, with each fix and upgrade as a marketing tool that will generate buyer interest and increase buyer appeal, and ultimately, increase your home’s value by more than you spent updating it. For those small fixes and improvements that can bring big returns, we have you covered at Jiffy. Our service professionals in 24 maintenance categories can help with any of the fixes recommended by the agents above.
Illustration by Sophie Berg.