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Friday, April 12th, 2024

The 1% solution: 5 tips to help sell your hous

The 1% solution: 5 tips to help sell your house

Kathryn Adams/For the Toronto Star

Whether you’re moving out of town, moving up or splitting up, everyone has the same goal when they’reselling their home: to make as much as they can.

One way to get the best sale price is to invest a few dollars to spruce up your place for prospective buyers. One rule of thumb is that you should set aside 1 per cent of your asking price, so, if you’re listing for $400,000 a renovation budget of $4,000 isn’t out of line.

Of course, certain projects will get you more, though in most cases you won’t get all your money back. The return can be anywhere from nothing, for skylights and pools, to an average of 75 per cent on high-performing kitchens and bathroom projects.

Here are some tips:


You can expect to recover 75 to 100 per cent of your investment in kitchens and bathrooms.

“The payback is tremendous,” says Frank Turco, Home Depot’s trend and design manager. That’s because buyers don’t want to undertake a cumbersome renovation that restricts access to these key spaces.

A few hundred dollars can give your kitchen a whole new look. Cabinets can be cleaned, lightly sanded and painted to look like new, while hardware can also be updated quickly and inexpensively, with new pulls and handles starting at a few dollars a pop. Outdated track lights can be replaced with more fashionable varieties, focused task lighting and undercabinet lighting. Dingy backsplashes can also be refreshed with a coat of paint or new tiles, which are available in peel-and-stick varieties.

For a bit more of a splurge, try replacing laminate cabinets with wood and laminate countertops for something a higher end, such as Corian or granite. New appliances are also a worthy investment, with stainless steel and once again trendy glossy white appealing to buyers.


In the bathroom, like the kitchen, painting the vanity, and swapping out light fixtures and pulls can refresh the space inexpensively. Upgrading faucets, taps and shower heads are another simple project in the $50 – $100 range.

Additional storage is also essential in the bathroom, so look into closet and cupboard organizing systems and adding extra shelving.

Or go all out and embrace the trend for more spa-like bathrooms with marble tiling, full glass showers with extra nozzles and high-end showerheads or a steam shower. Double sinks, heated floors and upgraded countertops are also nice perks.


In all spaces, a fresh coat of paint works wonders – bringing homeowners a return of 50 to 70 cents on the dollar, says says Mariano Gigante, a sales representative with Sutton Group. Others like, Re/Max salesperson Justin Kua estimate a fresh paint job can bring in returns of 300 per cent.

“Even if it is a simple thing to fix, buyers want it done,” says Gigante, noting it also helps sell homes quicker than other upgrades. Wipe away scuffed paint and outdated colours with neutral hues for a fresh, buyer friendly look.


Ripping out worn carpets and refinishing, or replacing, battered floors can offer returns of 75 to 100 per cent, says Gigante, noting that laminate and wood offer the highest rate of return.

Turco recommends laminate vinyl options, explaining “vinyl has come a long, long way” and is now available in durable planks, tiles and sheets that can mimic almost any look and texture, with many varieties available in the $60 range for 24 square feet. Plus, as far as projects go, it’s “inexpensive and easy, as long as you have a box cutter and a ruler.”

Other upgrades

Replacing doors and windows can bring in 50 to 75 per cent – and help you save on energy costs to boot.

Landscaping, meanwhile, will put roughly 25 to 50 per cent of what you spend back into your pocket. A well-maintained garden, brick paths and even urns can also do a lot to boost your home’s curb appeal.

A buyer’s first impression is key so for an easy fix up under $100, Turco suggests cleaning up the front yard, repainting pots and planters, laying a new welcome mat and painting the front door.

Read about 10 easy ways to boost your home’s curb appeal here.

What not to do

Finishing a basement will see about a 50 per cent return on your investment, but as a big and costly job, Gigante says it’s only worthwhile if the homeowners intend on using it themselves for a while.

Skip the skylight. While additional natural light can be a boost, this project is expected to bring you absolutely no return, says Gigante.

Also avoid adding a swimming pool or Jacuzzi. It usually doesn’t improve your resale value and can even discourage buyers, such as families with small children.

If you are tackling a larger scale reno or working with a contractor, make sure the project comes in at less than your one per cent resale renovation budget, including a hefty contingency fund. The projects that offer the biggest returns – kitchens and bathrooms – can also bring the biggest surprises, snowballing costs as mechanical problems are uncovered.

Jennifer Wilson is the editor of

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