Ongoing renovations are the key to selling your home in a competitive housing market

It’s no longer a well-kept Canadian secret.

What secret? That Canadians love renovating their homes, as a booming home renovation industry attests.

If you haven’t joined the multitudes in the constant upkeep of your home, you should, said WinnipegREALTORS® president, Stewart Elston.

“It’s very important to update your home on a regular basis,” he said. “Simply put, if you want to maximize your investment, you have to keep up your home. If you don’t, you won’t get top dollar when it comes time to sell it.”

He added that those updates, which need to be performed on an ongoing basis as long as you own your home, don’t need to be huge projects.

“While kitchens and bathrooms rank as the most important areas to upgrade — basement development is also another important area — it’s often the simple things that make a difference,” said Elston. “I recently listed a home where the trim on the house was peeling. That made for bad optics and a poor first impression.”

He said that another vendor had a countertop that needed to be repaired before their home could be put on the market.

“They had a butcher block countertop that was chipped,” recalled Elston. “I told them that they had to replace it. They did, and it made a big difference. When you renovate your home, it doesn’t have to be big things. The important thing is to do something every year to keep it looking good in and out. That way, you won’t face big renovation costs to get it ready to go on the market.”

Long-time renovator Shane Cucheran said a more competitive market is driving the need for vendors to keep their homes ship-shape and contemporary.

“The reality is that a fresh-looking, nicely renovated home will sell much quicker than one that hasn’t been updated,” he said. “If you have two similar houses on a street and one is renovated and the other isn’t, the one that’s had all the work done to it will sell much quicker than the one that hasn’t.”

Cucheran added that it’s critically important to make sure a home is updated both inside and out.

“If a home is done to the nines inside but doesn’t have curb appeal, buyers might bypass it because a drab exterior absolutely kills a home’s appeal. Regular updates — both outside and inside — brings things into contemporary mode,” he said. “An updated exterior will create a positive first impression. Follow that up with a contemporary interior, and you have a home that will have a lot of appeal.”

Fellow renovation specialist Roger Beaulieu said that homeowners need to be proactive in the maintenance of their home, no matter whether they intend to live in it for awhile, or put it on the market in the near future.

“It’s a matter of good stewardship. Your home is an investment, so it always pays in the long run to keep it in good running order. That means not only doing cosmetic updates, but doing regular preventative maintenance,” he said. “You always want to make your home look welcoming, especially if you’re thinking about selling it.”

Beaulieu said buyers not only want to see a contemporary home, but a well-maintained home that exemplifies pride of ownership.

“It starts with a well-manicured yard that’s clean with well-trimmed grass, shrubs and flowers. Then, windows and doors should be clean. Landscaping should be sloped away from the foundation, and tree branches should be trimmed and not touching the house as they could damage soffit and fascia, and clog eavestroughs with leaves.”

Overall, buyers want to see a home that’s in good working order, said Beaulieu, with no leaky faucets, no loose cabinet door hinges and no clutter.

“Once you’ve got all those details taken care of, then you can think of renovating your kitchen or bathroom if there’s the need,” he said. “A home’s structure needs to be maintained, as well as its cosmetics.”

And updates don’t need to be expensive, said Cucheran.

“You can bring in a colour consultant for $150,” he said. “With their help, a home can be turned around with a couple of cans of paint, some new fixtures and some colourful artwork. Yes, key renovations are important, but they have to be complemented by a clean, sharp interior and exterior.”