Repairs and Return on Investment

The quick things you can do to increase your home’s resale value

Which Repairs Bring the Biggest Return?

While everything will eventually sell for a price, as a Toronto home seller you want to do better than that; you want to realize a profit on your investment and sell your home in the shortest possible period of time to minimize the disruption to your daily life that putting your home on the market can entail.  Renovating can help you get there.  But it needn’t cost a fortune or take an age to accomplish; there are relatively quick things you can do to increase the resale value of your home. 

Quick fixes before selling a home can really pay off, but what exactly to repair or freshen up can depend on a variety of factors such as:

  • Time of year
  • Location of the home
  • Market conditions
  • Competing inventory

Jamie will examine all of the above factors to recommend the repairs and fixes that will benefit you the most at sale time.  There are general guidelines that apply to most homes:


  • If your home has hardwood floors, in Toronto’s current housing market it pays to have any carpeting removed and the floors refinished.
  • Replace worn out existing carpeting with light tan or other neutral-coloured carpeting
  • Replace chipped or cracked ceramic tiles. Clean or replace the grout.

Ceilings & Walls

  • Nothing says freshness like a new coat of paint.  It hides stains from grease or smoke and ceiling cracks. Use fiberglass tape on large cracks, cover with joint compound and sand, then paint a neutral color
  • Get rid of wallpaper unless a professional interior decorator coordinated the look and installed the wallpaper for you within the past two years. The easiest way is to steam it off by using an inexpensive wallpaper remover steamer.


  • Statistically, kitchen remodels return nearly 100% - though high-end kitchens don't always return as much as the mid-range or minor kitchen remodels, so forget the state of the art built-in espresso machine and travertine floors.
  • Cabinetry is highly visible because it is at eye level.  Resurface beat-up cabinets by replacing the doors and hardware. If your cabinets are painted, add a fresh coat of paint and new hardware.
  • Granite counters, though popular, are not strictly necessary. Simple laminates, newer faucets and sparkling sinks sell very well.


  • The national average of recouped cost is more than 100% for bathrooms. New floors, fixtures and lights pay off.


  • Patch cement cracks in sidewalks
  • Resurface asphalt driveways if necessary
  • Plant flowers
  • Caulk windows and doors
  • Replace doorknobs and locks
  • Fix or paint fences

Dos and Don’ts of Renovating for a Home Sale

Overall, most buyers want it all.  They want to buy a turn-key home that is neutrally remodelled so that customization is possible, yet they want a home that is move-in ready.  Ideally, your home would have newer appliances, updated plumbing, upgraded wiring and heating, and all the modern conveniences – preferably eco-friendly ones.  Short of putting in a green roof, replacing all doors and windows and waterproofing the basement, what should you do to make sure buyers get what they want without hurting your bottom line?


  • Make kitchen and bathrooms your #1 priority – Your renovation should go into the kitchen and bathrooms over other rooms.
  • Limit hard costs – Laying new solid hardwood is a hard cost, the unavoidable cost of materials per square foot.  Borrowing a floor sander and sanding your own floors is a soft cost.
  • Refurbish rather than replace – Wherever possible, don’t spend money on expensive new materials if it can be avoided.  Refinish your existing floors, walls, bathtubs etc.
  • Paint – However you might feel about ‘slapping on a new coat of paint’ the fact is that new paint, especially in well-chosen, light and contemporary shades, will transform a house.


  • Spend more on renovation than you can regain when selling – Market value, not how much money you actually spent on renovations, plays the biggest role. If you put in a wood floor, and homes with wood floors typically sell for $5,000 more than those with carpet in your neighbourhood, your home is now worth $5,000 more than comparable carpeted homes – whether you spent $1,000 or $10,000 on the wood floor.
  • Spend more than your profit potential – This is not the same as above.  It isn’t actually a success to spend $7,500 on a bathroom reno only to recoup $7,500 from the sale of your house or condo.  All the inconvenience and effort of a renovation, not to mention time spent on the phone with contractors and leaving work early, etc. etc. can really add up and make your renovation completely unprofitable.
  • Go for function over appearance – Believe it or not, it's better to put that $1,000 into paint or flooring, rather than something like a new water heater.  As long as the water heater is functional, keep it, because a new one does not tend to impress buyers.  If the water heater really needs to be replaced, you can always agree to deduct an equivalent amount from the sale price (though this would rarely happen in practice), but you will not get a second chance to make a first impression with home buyers who walk into your home and see old peeling paint.

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