Renovating Vancouver Homes for Resale

As Vancouver edges toward a buyer’s market, homeowners should be mindful of what sells when it comes to home upgrades.

Kitchen renovations | BCBusiness
For a big bang for your investment bucks, consider minor kitchen renovations such as replacing countertops, fixtures and paint in a neutral colour to brighten the space.

As Vancouver edges toward a buyer’s market, homeowners should be mindful of what sells when it comes to home upgrades.

The new Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation report for the third quarter outlined renovations as a key item. The average consumer renovates within three years of purchasing a home with the major work (and expenses) completed in the first year. The forecast for renovation spending in B.C. is projected to hit $7.8 billion next year.

The renovations that are best for your home depends on a few factors. I like to think of it like buying art.  Unless you are an expert, you should plan on buying something you love. You might have to look at it for a long time. However, if you’re going to take a chance with renovations for resale, you might need to take a long, practical look at your spend in investment dollars. There are some must-haves. Everyone expects a good roof, a working furnace and a decent hot water tank. Maintenance is important as well.  If you have bad curb appeal, the potential buyer will just keep driving. 

Homeowners can expect to recoup only a portion of their renovation dollars on the bigger ticket items.  The most popular reno is to reclaim attic or basement space and convert it into more living space. Of course making your house bigger is smart, but if you can’t, the next highest bang for your buck is minor kitchen upgrades, as most homeowners recoup about 72 per cent of the investment. Consider new countertops, hardware, fixtures and paint to freshen up that charming oak kitchen. Avail yourself of some of the free help at the DIY stores and design advice from boutique paint stores. Kitchen upgrades are a good value you can enjoy now and take advantage of in your resale price later. 

Even the best-planned and executed reno may not recoup your costs at the 70-per-cent range. An example includes a renovated townhouse in Burnaby. It was a darker property, given its location. While it was green and lush outside, that meant a fair amount of shade inside. The chosen flooring was an engineered hardwood in a tobacco colour. While this is a popular choice, the first family through the home said the rooms were way too dark and that they would still rip it all up and replace it with a beige carpet. Personal preference is something that buyers will pay for. If your chosen upgrade doesn’t match with their preference, then that is a finishing option they will not want to pay for in their offer price.  The same applies to pools, decking, accent paint colours, faux finishes and industrial kitchens versus country kitchens.

Successful renovations have to improve the quality of the home. Most people will pay for the things they perceive to be too much trouble, such as pot lights and new windows, but if you did that bathroom in all black Kohler, well, they may rip all that out.  Err on the side of quality finishes in neutral (albeit pedestrian) colours. Taupe sells, baby!

I love a five-year plan. If you decide to renovate, decide in advance who you’re renovating for. Will it improve your quality of life and when you decide to sell, will your choices translate to resale? With the resale market edging toward a buyer’s market and renovating being top of mind (and affordable) with the low cost of borrowing, you can still invest wisely. But book your contractor early because it sounds like they’re going to get a lot busier.