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Choose Practical Renovations
When selling, first impressions are important. For a long time, real estate agents have emphasized the importance of curb appeal (the first impression when arriving in front of a home), along with good upkeep, as the best way to create a good impression on potential buyers.
However, there is a new trend that encourages sellers to skip the hard work of upkeep. This new theory suggests that a seller should concentrate on impressing potential buyers with “wow factor” renovations.
These are renovations that have a visual impact and make the home trendy, fashionable, or exciting. They are chosen specifically for their looks, and often ignore practical, every-day functionality.
Sometimes they even defy common sense!
When buying, make sure you consider the practical side of renovations so you aren't swept up in the “wow factor” the seller is trying to create.
Remember, trends always change, but convenience never goes out of style. A fashionable renovation that is annoying and cumbersome for day-to-day living will bug you every day until you move out!
Some Trends to Avoid
So, which renovations are practical and which ones are destined to drive you nuts? Here are a few examples of impractical trends that have become popular the last few years:
- Granite counter-tops in kitchens. These are completely unforgiving toward glass and ceramic dishes, so broken dishes are almost guaranteed. Notice that granite counter-tops are always promoted for their 'upscale' look, and never for their practicality. There's nothing wrong with laminate—nowadays it comes in many appealing colours and textures, and you can get that ever-popular 'egg-saver' edge that you'll be thankful for later.
- 'Tumbled' tiles as a back-splash. Cleaning these becomes an epic chore, because the uneven surface loves to hold dirt and grease. If you like a rough, natural look, consider emphasizing it in other rooms of your home, or even using a glass back-splash in front of the tiles.
- Bowl basins (raised glass bowl sinks) in bathrooms. Grime will constantly form under the edge of the bowl, and since the bowl is made of glass, the grime is easily visible. For the master bathroom, a standard sink flush with the counter-top is best. In the powder room, a pedastel sink offers a more elegant look if that's your goal.
- Gleaming, glossy laminate floors. They show every streak, scratch, and bit of dust! They're intended to imitate the gleam of real hardwood, but don't wear as well. Laminate is great if you're cost-conscious, but to make the most of it, stick with a lower gloss.
- Imitation cherry wood finish and other 'glamour' finishes achieved by plastic lamination on kitchen cupboard doors. Some of these laminates do not take well to kitchen heat and moisture, and will soon start lifting away from the door. Kitchens are one of the rooms (along with bathrooms) were practicality is most important, and in the case of your cupboards, it may be best to simply accept a plain look and put your design accent elsewhere in the room.
Making the Most of your Renovations
When buying, make sure you ask your agent about day-to-day use, and whether a renovation is practical. Your agent may assume that you care more about looks, so it's important to make it clear that daily living is your priority.
As a homeowner, you should think of a potential renovation as falling into one of two categories: renovations for selling, and renovations for living.
If you're renovating more than a few months before your selling date, you're renovating for living, whether you realized it or not! Even if your main motivation is to increase your sale price, you'll still be living with the renovation for months, so it needs to be functional.
If you're in love with a certain look and are willing to put in the effort to keep it up, then go for it. But if in doubt, choose something practical.
Meanwhile, if you renovate within a few months of your selling date, you are “renovating to sell”. In this case, the 'wow factor' may work in your favour (assuming you choose the right renovation and style), but it's never a substitute for proper upkeep of the interior and exterior of your home.
Also consider that some buyers will be focussed on day-to-day living (for example, those with children), and may be turned off by a renovation that looks great, but lives poorly.
Therefore, when renovating to sell, you'll add the most value if you balance looks and practicality.
Want to know more about smart renovation choices? Just ask me, I'll be happy to help.