Top 10 Home Improvements that add value

Bathroom Renos Add Value on Resale
If you’re thinking of selling your home in 2015 or just want to ramp up your home value, it’s important to educate yourself on which improvement projects will bring you the most return on your investment.  Keep in mind that many improvements will bring years of enjoyment to you and your family but not necessary incremental dollars when you sell you home.

Here are 10 home improvements  that add value:

1. Replace Your Front Door

You may not even notice your front door anymore, especially if you regularly use another entrance, but a new door makes a great impression on buyers and yields an 86 percent return on your investment. If your front door doesn’t need replacing or you’d rather spend less money, you can paint it and replace the hardware for a similar impact. Replacing your garage door recoups 75 percent of your investment.

2. Add a Deck or Patio

No matter where you live, buyers are looking for outdoor living space. You can recoup 77 percent of your investment on a new wood deck. If you already have outdoor space, consider enhancing it with a water feature, an outdoor fireplace or new landscaping.

3. Add Space

Depending on your budget and your goals for your home, an addition of extra bedrooms and bathrooms, a finished attic or an expanded casual living space can rapidly increase the value of your home. You can recoup 73 percent of your investment in an attic bedroom.

4. Remodel Your Kitchen

Buyers look most carefully at kitchens and bathrooms, so you should, too. You can recoup 75 percent of a minor kitchen remodel and 60-68 percent of a major kitchen remodel. If you’re selling soon, be careful not to overspend on your kitchen. You may be able to do one or two things, such as replacing the appliances and painting the cabinets, or just replacing the counters with granite to garner a good offer.

5. Replace Your Windows

Buyers are interested in how your windows look and their energy efficiency. Whether you’re replacing vinyl- or wood-frame windows, you can get a 72 percent return on your investment. When you’re ready to market your home, be sure to highlight the new windows as a selling point.

6. Work on Your Lighting

Today’s buyers like bright, light rooms, so look around your home and see if you need to upgrade your lighting fixtures or add more. You can hire a professional to add a few recessed lights to your kitchen and living areas and replace outdated overhead lighting fixtures to match contemporary tastes.

7. Replace Your Window Treatments

Make sure you’re letting as much natural light as possible into your home and that your window treatments don’t hide any oversized windows.

8. Update Your Bathroom

While a full, upscale bathroom remodeling project can cost as much as $50,000 and add only about $29,000 to your home’s resale value, you can make cost-effective minor upgrades. Replace your fixtures and your mirror, repaint the space and jazz it up with some crown molding (depending on your home’s style) and you’ll have a space that looks new. While you’re there, redo the caulk around your tub and shower and replace the grout on your tile flooring. If your tub is in bad shape, you may be able to have it resurfaced rather than replace it.

9. Replace Your Siding

If your home’s exterior needs a major makeover, you can typically recoup 72 percent of your investment by replacing the siding.

10. Organize Your Closets

High on the list of priorities for today’s buyers is adequate storage. If your home lacks big closets or has too few storage spaces, you can increase their efficiency with closet organizers.

That sums up the top 10 Home Improvements that add value to your home.  No matter which project you choose, be careful not to over-improve your home for the neighbourhood. I would be happy to offer advice about how to spend your money so that your home sells faster and for the best possible price. Please reach out to me anytime.

Love or List it

I often get asked by my customers, to help them make the right decision. Should they stay where you are and renovate their existing house or do they move to another, maybe newer, house? How do you make that decision? Some will counsel you to leave that old house and buy something new. Others will tell you to tear it down and build new, while others still will tell you to stay and remodel.

So how do you make that go or no-go decision? What criteria do you use to make a rational decision to stay put and renovate or move on?

Here are some questions to ask yourself. Your answers will certainly help you decide on your next move.

Love or List 

How do you Feel about the Neighbourhood?

Is it a place you enjoy? What about the neighbours? What about amenities? Are you happy your children go to the local schools?

Make sure that the neighbourhood is the right fit. Take to heart the old adage that you can always fix a house but you can’t fix a neighbourhood.

Is there some intangible quality to your house?

While not every house has a significance beyond simply providing shelter, many do. Whether it’s age or design or some other quality, a home that has significance shouldn’t be subjected to the wrecking ball. Expanding, renovating and adapting these homes are sure ways to keep that significance alive for future generations.

Does renovating make economic sense?

There are a whole host of factors to way when it comes to this question. If you’re renovating, there’s not only the cost of the renovations. There could very well be associated costs, such as temporary living quarters while the house is under construction.

Additional costs are also associated with moving (such as Realtor fees and decorating the new house).

Determining whether to go or stay requires that you identify all of the costs, not just the construction costs, before making a decision.

Does the existing house have good bones?

poor foundation
Not every house is a good candidate for a renovation. While there might be a reason to rebuild an old historic barn that’s full of memories, a 20-year-old tract house with a failing foundation or another significant defect might not be a good candidate. So make sure to assess, or have a professional assess, the bones of your house to see just what lies beneath those foundation cracks and less-than-level floors.


How will the latest zoning restrictions affect the project?

building permits If your house is older, it very well could have been built under different, often more lax, zoning restrictions.

While your house may suit you better through the benefits of these laxer restrictions, a new house in its place might not. Evaluate height, distance to property lines, yard dimensions and so on to see if saving the existing structure provides some benefits that would be lost if the house were razed.
Can I be patient and have fun with the project even when it isn’t going well? In any case, building a new custom home or renovating your existing house will require you to make countless decisions. From the macro, like how big and how much, to the micro, like what hardware you want on the kitchen cabinets, you’ll spend countless hours on Houzz and elsewhere researching what you like and what’s available. If you’re new at this, you’ll likely want to have a professional help you every step of the way, so you can avoid “We should have done … ” or “Why did we …?”

Being patient is key. And starting at the right place for you — whether it’s where you are or somewhere new — will make the end result truly worth the journey.

How To Talk To Your Real Estate Lawyer

lawyerMany times people go see their real estate lawyer after they have signed an agreement to purchase a home.    It is always best to have that contact as early as possible in the home buying process, even before you sign the agreement of purchase and sale, to benefit most from your lawyer’s information, advice and insights.  Your real estate agent should be able to recommend a couple of local real estate lawyers that do business in the area that you are purchasing your home.  Meet more than one, and make your own decision based on which one you are most comfortable with.

Be ready to ask questions, such as:

• Have all building permits and final inspections been obtained for the home?

• Should you get a new property survey?

• Should you buy title insurance? What does title insurance do for you?

• What due diligence searches will be undertaken and which will not? Why?

• Would you benefit from an alternate home ownership arrangement where you split ownership with a co-owner, based on your family situation?

• Will you need permits or other legal approvals to renovate/add to your home or another property?

• Is anything preventing you from renting out a part of your home or running a business from your home?

• What is power of attorney, and should you have one?

In most instances all goes well with the closing of your house.  If things do go astray, you will be very grateful that you have a good lawyer to take care of things.




Renovate or Move?

Vertical shot of a woman being deep in thought

Vertical shot of a woman being deep in thought

By Jody Thompson

Many couples eventually outgrow their first homes – their incomes may have increased over the years, their family begins to grow, their priorities of what they want in a home evolve.

The big decision for most is to renovate their existing home or move? There certainly are pros and cons of both. What is the right decision depends on how you look at it.

Some of the advantages of renovating are:
1. You don’t have to pay all the costs of moving – land transfer tax, lawyers fees, real estate fees
2. If you love your neighborhood, your lot, and neighbors, you are guaranteed for those things to stay the same.
3. You can sometimes renovate in phases so you don’t have to do the entire project all at once. For example, you may start with a new kitchen or bathroom, and then down the road, add your family room addition on the back.
4. All the conveniences that you know in the area will be maintained.

Some of the advantages of moving are:
1. You don’t have to find an interim location to live while you renovate.
2. You can most often time the buy and the sell of your home to happen simultaneously so less risk
3. You have more control over the costs – most renovations run at least 25% over what was budgeted and take longer than anticipated
4. It may be an opportunity to upgrade the neighborhood that you live in
5. It typically is less expensive to move and you do not usually get all the money out of a renovation
6. You know exactly what you are getting when you buy a home that already exists
It is important to sit down and really weigh the pros and cos before making this important decision.


By Jody Thompson

Many people believe that they just need to throw a sign on their lawn and put their home on MLS and their home will be SOLD just like the one down the street. What they don’t realize is that there is a substantial amount of work behind the scenes that resulted in that comparable home selling quickly. Here are some of the common mistakes that sellers make.

1. An MLS Listing is not enough
To have your home sold quickly for top dollar, you need a comprehensive marketing plan that includes promotion with other agents in the area, wide exposure through the internet, open houses, promotion in the local paper, staging and more.

2. Good photos matter
More and more buyers are introduced to your home on the internet. Your photos need to highlight your homes best features and need to be taken by a professional photographer- not your iphone.

3. Potential buyers cannot get into see your home
We all know that it is a real pain to keep your home in show condition and make your home available when potential buyers want to view your home. However. if you restrict the hours, they will find another home more convenient for viewings.

4. The price is not right
A home is most likely to attract the most buyers when it hits the market. If your price is too high, you run the risk that you will not get the traffic to get it sold. Lowering your price later gives your home stigma- there must be something wrong with the home because it did not sell.

5. Your timing is wrong
There are certain times of the year where there are significantly fewer buyers – the summer months when people are off to their cottages, Christmas when they are focused on family. Plan on trying to hit either the spring or the fall market and avoiding the dead months.

6. You have the wrong agent.
When you interview agents, it should never be about choosing the one with the cheapest price. You have too much money riding on this choice. Ask any agent you interview about their own marketing plans and social media presence, and above all, get references. In addition, ask a simple question: Why should I hire you? If they can’t demonstrate why they are different, move on.

Five Home Improvements That Will Not Increase The Value of Your Home

By Jody Thompson

Pools as an investment

Pools as an investment

Working with many home buyers each day, I have learned that there are some home improvements that actually add no or very little value to your home. In fact, there are some that may deter a potential homebuyer from considering your home. So what are they?

1. Wall-to-Wall Carpeting

As the home owner, you may enjoy the look and feel of your new carpet. However, there are many others that do not want any wall- to- wall carpet in their home. There is a growing concern over the cleanliness and health implications of carpet due to the amount of chemicals used in manufacturing the carpet and the potential to trap germs, and pet odors. Carpet is often a serious concern for those with allergies.

2. Swimming Pools

A swimming pool may be on your bucket list, however there are many people that look at a pool as additional maintenance, cost, and a potential safety hazard if they have small children. If you decide to put a pool in your backyard, recognize that it is for your shear enjoyment and will not add any value to your home.

3. Over Improving for the Neighbourhood

The old saying still stands – you don’t want to be the most expensive home in your neighbourhood. If the improvements that you are making take your home to a new price point for your neighbourhood, think very hard about these improvements. People will look at recent sales in your neighbourhood and expect to pay a similar price.

4. Extensive Landscaping

Your home may stand out because of your beautiful landscaping and attract more potential buyers. However, most home buyers do not have an appreciation for how much those beautiful gardens or interlocking stone costs and will not add it to the price they are willing to pay for you home.

5. Invisible Improvements

A new HVAC system, a new roof, or waterproofing may be necessary repairs but don’t expect to recover the costs when you sell your home. Homebuyers expect these things to be in good working condition and will not necessarily add additional value to the purchase price. It does not mean that you should not keep your home in good repair, it just means you need to think about these costs as the maintenance costs of owning a home.

If you are planning on investing in home improvements, it is important to remember that some are strictly for your enjoyment, some are necessary to keep your home in good repair and none of the above will add a single dollar of incremental value to your home. Invest wisely!


Cute house in The Queensway

Cute house in The Queensway

By Jody Thompson
1. One of the best up and coming neighborhoods with great value in Toronto. Homes get snapped up in days.

2. Known for its tree-lined streets, quaint bungalows on large lots, parks and trails. Enjoy the trails along the Humber River, or strolling along the lakefront where you can watch the sailboats, joggers and cyclists.

3. Great schools in the area including one of the best rated Catholic French Immersion schools EEC Sainte-Marguerite-d”Youville., a very strong public elementary school – Norseman Heights, as well as The Etobicoke School of the Arts – one of the best artistic schools in the city.

4. Close access to Humber College which is now the center of advanced study in creative professions. Areas of known prestige include, advertising, public relations, publishing, business, and graphic design to name a few.

5. Incredible accessibility! – Go trains, Royal York Subway, the Gardiner, the 427 with easy access to the 401, 400, 407 and Pearson Airport.

6. Excellent recreational facilities nearby including COE, a boutique for cycling, strength and flexibility gym, outdoor tennis courts, outdoor skating rink with artificial ice, and an indoor swimming pool.

7. One of the safest neighborhoods in Toronto with a very low crime rate and neighbors that look out for each other.

8. Some of the best food in Toronto including my favorite – Luci’s -on The Queensway, The Cheese Boutique, Vibo and Momiji.

9. Parks and a downtown area part of the exciting revitalization city wide projects.

10. Strong community spirit filled with hospitality and culture. Upcoming Festival – Celebrate the Queensway.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Queensway, I live and work in this wonderful area and would love to help you with your home search. Please learn more about me on My Website

Should you sell your home without a realtor?

for sale by owner

By Jody Thompson

For Sale By Owner – Sounds Good? Maybe Not

There are hot pockets in Toronto where signs go up on the lawn on Tuesday or Wednesday, an open house happens on the weekend and then the SOLD sign appears on the lawn the very next week.
It’s hard to imagine that your real estate agent actually earned their commission for this transaction. The houses seem to sell themselves. So, why not sell your home without a realtor?
Well, it’s not that easy, let me tell you why….

There are a lot of things that happen behind the scenes that you should be aware of before your make the decision to sell your home yourself.

Firstly, an experienced agent will work with a potential seller to make recommendations on what they need to do to their home to maximize the price. This often includes fixing small deficiencies, or even staging your home for sale. This ultimately benefits the seller by increasing the home’s selling potential.

An experienced agent also has a large network of other agents and a marketing plan to promote your home. The more people that see your home, the more likely you are to find the perfect buyer.In addition, agents are experienced in negotiating deals. Many buyers do not feel comfortable dealing with the owners directly during negotiations. An agent knows what needs to happen to make the transaction go smoothly. There are inspection requirements, legal requirements, paperwork to fill out, terms to understand, negotiations to be had, fees to be paid and on and on.

So, it may seem like a no brainer to sell your home without a realtor .. But the value of a realtor is all in the details. Although selling your own home may seem like a no brainer, it is important to remember that getting top dollar for your home often requires the expertise of a realtor.

Selling your Home? – What are the real estate commissions that you will pay?

By Jody Thompson

Real Estate commissions are one of the biggest expenses of selling your home. More often than not, this expense is poorly explained by your agent or not well understood by home owners. So how does it really work?

Most agents will recommend that you list your home on MLS. MLS allows other agents with potential buyers to show and sell your home.  Both the listing agent and the buyers (cooperating) agent get paid.

The buyers agent typically gets paid 2.5% of the selling price of your home.

The listing agent can charge you whatever they want and the fee often depends on the services that they are offering you. For example, you often hear agents advertising that they only charge 1%. In fact you are paying the 2.5% to the buyers agents plus the 1% to the listing agent or 3.5%.

If your agent is planning on putting a complete marketing program together for you to maximize your selling price they typically will charge you the same as the buyers agent or 2.5% for a total commission of 5%. The marketing program includes things such as hiring a professional photographer to take pictures, videos of your home, a dynamic advertising plan, as well as staging your home to show it at its best.

To sum it up, commissions typically vary from 3.5% – 5% and you typically get what you pay for. A few of my recent sales in Etobicoke where I offered my clients full service – de-cluttering, staging, an aggressive advertising campaign to promote the property, professional open houses resulted in them getting $70,000-$100,000 over list. My clients would say that the little extra they paid in fees was well worth it.   It’s important to ask any potential agent their fee, as well as thoroughly understand the services that are included in that fee.

A Few Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Sale

Tips to Get Your home ready for sale

By Jody Thompson

  1. Wash windows and sills inside and out.

  2. To revive drab drapes: take down drapes, take hooks out and run them through the dryer on air fluff cycle with a damp towel for 15 minutes. Wipe down blinds.

  3. Dust thoroughly: above kitchen cabinets, picture frames, ceiling fans, baseboards and doorways

  4. Move furniture away from walls and clean thoroughly.

  5. Have your carpets and upholstery professionally cleaned

  6. Replace worn grout in bathrooms and kitchen to prevent leaks.

  7. Clean the refrigerator, stove and microwave.

  8. Organize your pantry and throw out expired canned goods and foods.

  9. To remove lime build up on shower heads and around kitchen faucet- lay paper towels over the fixture and soak it with vinegar then let it set for 1 hour. The deposit will soften and become easier to remove.

  10. To clean a vinyl shower curtain- throw the shower curtain in the washing machine with a few towels, add a cup of vinegar and your detergent and then air dry when finished the wash cycle.

  11. Turn the mattress and vacuum thoroughly. Wash all linens and air dry.

Sounds like a lot but it will make your home more attractive.  Your home deserves to look it best.  It is worth the effort!