Kitchen and bath tips for sellers

REM – Real Estate Magazine
5 April, 2011 8:20 AM
by Jim Adair

Kitchen and bath tips for sellers

By Dan Steward

Flipping through design magazines, it’s easy for a home seller to be swayed by all the ads for kitchen and bath companies. There are endless brands that vie for consumers’ attention with shrine-like marble powder rooms and sleek, steel kitchens. Many sellers get tempted to renovate their kitchens and baths with these high-end looks, in an attempt to focus the wandering eyes of buyers who have lots of options in almost any market. But doing so costs tens of thousands of dollars.

Currently, according to the Appraisal Institute of Canada, consumers who do a kitchen and bath remodel can recoup 75 to 100 per cent of their investment. (see the calculator at While getting the entire initial investment back is possible, the risk could be costly: home sellers who are at that 75 per cent end and spent $40,000 on a remodel are out $10,000 – plus plenty of stress. And, if you, as their agent, didn’t caution them against such a reno, they might become nonplussed.

To avoid that situation and keep your relationship with your client in tip-top shape, here are some tips for you to impart to your buyers on how to redo the kitchen or bath without breaking the bank. In the kitchen:

DON’T put in pricey professional-grade cook’s appliances. You may choose a tricked-out, $10,000 Wolf stove, but the buyer may be a loyalist to Viking. Or, even worse, the potential buyer might be a take-out addict.

DO service the appliances you have, so that they work perfectly. If you have seriously outdated appliances that can be replaced for $1,000 or less (like swapping a beat-up old fridge for a basic new one), that’s a good idea. Similarly, if there are any appliances that you lack, which most buyers consider essential, it makes sense to buy one (like a dishwasher – you can get a nice model for under $1,000).

DON’T replace your cabinetry entirely – even if it’s a little outdated. It’s just too subjective – you might think sleek white Scandinavian cabinets are the way to go, but you’ll be in a bind if your potential buyer prefers dark wood.

DO invest in cabinet refacing if your cabinets are extremely outdated. Many refacing companies will give your cabinets a fresh façade for well under $2,000 and it’s a good investment in creating a positive impression of the room without doing a pricey knock-down.

DON’T go granite crazy. Or marble. Or etched-Murano-glass-accented tile. Spending thousands on a new countertop and backsplash is downright dangerous because there are so many different options these days, it’s impossible to find one that will please most people.

DO hire a professional cleaning company to come in and make what you have sparkle. While this won’t magically make your tile look magazine-spread-worthy, it will certainly make it look a lot better, as discolouration from age often makes tile look even worse.

In the bathroom:

DON’T do expensive tub/shower repairs or replacements. Just like with the big-ticket kitchen fixes, this is a matter of taste. If you put in a round jetted tub, what if the buyer wants square? Do you really think that every potential buyer will be keen on a colour-changing lighting system in the shower?

DO replace dated bath and shower fixtures; this can be done generally quite inexpensively. For instance, if you have a piddly old showerhead, replacing it with a large, rainwater-style model will lend a subtle spa-like quality without costing a lot.

DON’T opt for huge built-ins. A lot of remodelers emphasize the intrinsically relaxing qualities of having all your toiletries, towels and even reading material beautifully organized in one big unit made of high-end wood, marble and chrome. It’s beautiful, but it’s also a risky choice and a matter of taste.

DO: Freshen up a focal point: the vanity area. Invest in a big mirror and put bright lights over it. A few hundred dollars spent on a nice faucet is well worth it, as, like the showerhead, it’s a basic – and updating the basics, in most homes and markets, is a smart way to go.

Other tips for redoing your kitchen and bathroom cheap:

Declutter the counters. A disorganized kitchen is a buyer deterrent. Clean up the counters and pare down countertop items to three or four essentials, such as the toaster, microwave and coffee pot.

Keep your pantry and cabinetry clutter-free too. You don’t have to alphabetize your cereals – just know that potential buyers will probably open those cabinets, so they won’t want a ladle falling out on their head.

Give your kitchen table or breakfast bar some life. It’s simple – placemats, a colourful vase or two and a tasteful flower arrangement will reinforce the idea that the kitchen is the heart of the home.

In the bathroom, if you want to add a little life to the wall, try a simple, straight-lined wood or stainless-steel floating shelf with a few candles on it. It’s an elegant, boutique-hotel touch that doesn’t cost much.

Toss down a colourful floor mat. Bathrooms are often devoid of color; this is a great way to add a warm hue.

Again, clear clutter. If you’re in the open-house stage, your toothbrush shouldn’t be on the counter.

Dan Steward is president of Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspections.


이병재|부동산Brandon Lee, Salesperson
General Manager, OKOREA

Cell. 416-471-0353


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