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Protecting Your Home’s Value

 

With the average price now hovering around $375,000 and edging higher, buying a home is probably the largest single investment that most Canadians ever make in their lives. Once they have made the investment, protecting it becomes of paramount importance.

 

Good real estate generally is considered one of the best long-term investments you can make. Figures from the Canadian Real Estate Association show that the average price of a home in Canada has increased by about 460 per cent from $67,024 in 1980.

 

The home you bought 32 years ago for $67,000 could be worth more than $375,000 today, depending on its location and what improvements have or have not been made to it over the years. That’s a pretty good return on investment.

 

There are a number of relatively easy and inexpensive things that real estate professionals say homeowners can do to protect and even increase the value of their homes and properties.

 

Cindie Carr Harris, a real estate agent with Royal LePage in Toronto, suggests owners start with the basics.

 

“Make sure your systems like heating, plumbing and wiring are in good shape, your foundation is solid and you’ve got a dry basement,” she says. “Once your basics are sound, then you can start prettying things up and working on d?cor.”

 

If you’re going to spend some money on your home, the biggest return will come from the kitchen, bathroom and landscaping, Carr-Harris says.

 

The kitchen still is considered the heart of the home where the family congregates to eat, cook and interact. You can spruce up your kitchen without spending a fortune by replacing faucets, resurfacing cabinets, adding new door handles, and updating fixtures with brighter and more energy-efficient ones.

 

Many homeowners often get fixated with having the best and sexiest appliances, but you can do an appliance-makeover if they don’t all match by ordering new doors or face panels for them. A more unified-looking kitchen can be a great attraction and selling feature.

 

Similarly, you can spruce up your tired dingy bathrooms by replacing old toilet seats, adding pedestal sinks, replacing discoloured flooring with easy to use vinyl tiles or sheeting, replacing chipped tiles, and resurfacing grimy-looking showers and tubs.

 

Older homes typically have small closets and lack a lot of storage space. Clutter can be a real turn-off, so if you are cramped for storage space why not go through what you’ve got and get rid of unwanted stuff either by throwing it out or perhaps selling it off

 

You also can add do-it-yourself wire and laminate closet systems to bedrooms, pantries and entrance closets.

 

Flooring and lighting are two other home features that can be upgraded quickly and inexpensively.

 

A good carpet cleaning is an inexpensive investment. If you’ve got a lot of wear on your carpet, cover it with area rugs. Many real estate agents do not recommend replacing wall-to-wall carpeting before selling because the new owners may want to choose something else.

 

You can brighten the appearance of your home with some simple changes to your lighting systems. Adding chandeliers and wall sconces can shed some new light on your home. Most home improvement stores offer a wide range of nice-looking fixtures for good prices.

 

Landscaping can add greatly to what realtors call shelf or curb appeal and a good new coat of paint can do wonders to improve the overall appearance and appeal of your home.

 

“Landscaping can really improve the drive-by appeal and make your property one that people admire and would like to see,” Carr-Harris says.

 

She warns, however, against the danger over-improving your property in relation to the area where it’s located and trying to guess what the market and potential buyers might want.

 

“Never over-personalize your property to the point that it limits the potential of what can be done to it in the future,” she says. “If you’re in an area with mostly three-bedroom homes, don’t get rid of one of those bedrooms and turn it into something that a new buyer might not want. Stay within the limits of your area.”

 

In the final analysis, Carr-Harris says, most improvements and renovations should be done for your personal use and enjoyment, not for resale, because it’s hard to anticipate what potential buyers will be looking for and want.

 

Talbot Boggs is a Toronto-based business communications professional who has worked with national news organizations, magazines and corporations in the finance, retail, manufacturing and other industrial sectors.

 

The Canadian Press

 

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