Top 10 Worst Home Upgrades

By Martha Uniacke Breen (

Some renovation upgrades, such as kitchens and bathrooms, are usually fairly reliable for adding to a home’s resale value. But there are others (and if you’ve gone househunting in the last few years, perhaps you’ve seen a few) that are just plain bone-headed. What’s worth the cost and what isn’t?

Kathy Monahan, an agent with Forest Hill Real Estate Inc. in Toronto, has seen some real eye-rollers in her time. We asked her which home upgrades are least likely to return their full investment (or close to it) when you sell, or can even turn buyers off. Some of her answers might surprise you.

Wall-to-wall broadloom
Once considered a selling feature, this is now a liability in many buyers’ eyes. Broadloom is incompatible with pets and people with allergies, and is perceived as hard to clean. If you have hardwood floors, have them refinished or consider installing them if you don’t.

Whirlpool baths, saunas and indoor hot tubs
Once considered chic, these are now often seen as just expensive, energy-guzzling extras. Kathy says she once saw a home with a hot tub installed in the living room!

Expensive built-in sound systems and home theatres
Some buyers will be attracted to this, but not everyone is an audio/cinephile, nor will they pay a premium for a house with this feature.

Colourful bath fixtures
These went out with poodle skirts. Chances are the buyer will just see them as a renovation to-do and will plan to get rid of them after the purchase.

Ornate chandeliers, wallpaper and paint treatments
Taste is very individual and idiosyncratic decorating can turn buyers off; stick with neutral, simple decor.

Odd rooms and walls
A wall bisecting a large bedroom into two unusably small ones or a cramped powder room under the stairs or in a closet … many buyers will see these as merely a future renovation expense. (Same goes for inexplicably missing walls, such as a bathroom that is open to the adjacent bedroom.)

Overly fancy appliances
Stainless steel-finish appliances are worth paying a few more dollars for (compared to equivalent white or colour models), but six-burner professional stoves, double dishwashers and a fridge big enough for a restaurant rarely recoup their initial cost.

Cheap laminate or vinyl tile flooring
Some types of laminate are attractive and practical; others just look cheap and fake. Especially avoid peel-and-stick vinyl tiles or be prepared to replace them when you put the house on the market. For not much more money, choose hardwood, stone, bamboo or cork.

Swimming pool
There is some debate about this among realtors; to some buyers, a swimming pool is a selling feature. But a pool rarely recoups its entire cost, and it will reduce the number of potential buyers interested in your home.

Finally, Kathy’s number-one renovation no-no:

Turning a three-bedroom into a two-bedroom home

Even if that third bedroom is miniscule, it’s still a bedroom. No matter how spacious your newly enlarged master bedroom or how luxurious that new spa bath, the demand for two-bedroom homes is significantly smaller than for three-bedrooms, and they command considerably lower prices.


On July 4, 2011, federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for housing announced a combined $1.4 billion investment toward reducing the number of Canadians in housing need under a new Affordable Housing Framework 2011 – 2014. The Framework is the basis for bilateral agreements between the federal government, represented by CMHC, and each Province and Territory…





A house is much more than just four walls and a roof — it’s an interactive system made up of many components including the basic structure, heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, the external environment and the occupants. Each component influences the performance of the entire system. A renovation provides an opportunity to improve how your house pehomeimprovementpic RENO 101: 9 THINGS YOU MUST ASK TO AVOID RENO SURPRISESrforms…


BEFORE YOU RENOVATE-How to Plan a Perfect Reno

Why Renovate?

Everyone has a different reason for wanting to renovate. Sometimes it’s the simple need for a change. Other times, the motivation is more practical. If you wake up one day with a puddle in the basement and a water-stained ceiling, you know you have to act fast…
clickherenowbutton BEFORE YOU RENOVATE How to Plan a Perfect Reno



homeremodelingpic BEFORE YOU RENOVATE How to Plan a Perfect Reno

Ready to Sell? It’s Showtime!

marqueeinthecity Ready to Sell? Its Showtime!

So you’ve hired the “right” agent,  done the necessary home prep and staging and now you are ready to show your home to the world. Making the best first impression, and creating that “WOW” factor that sends potential home buyers into “Gotta have it mode”, is now all up to you.

 Strategic and aggressive marketing can bring the buyers to your door, but if they leave without having that memorable experience while touring your home, they will quickly shuffle it to the bottom of their list. When buyers enter your home they want to visualize themselves living in your home. They are looking at your home with discerning eyes and will usually put a hefty price tag on any upgrades or repairs to be done.

From my experience I can tell you that the Kitchen is a huge selling point since it is the “heart” of the home and that you will be greatly rewarded for any upgrades you have done here. Of course you have de-cluttered and cleared up the kitchen counters of any knick knacks right? And of course you have straightened out cupboards (you know they’ll look in there!) and taken out the garbage and there are no dirty dishes in the sink!

Bathrooms are next in terms of upgrades and appearance and of course the main living areas.

Remember buyers see an average of 5-6 homes at once, so its important that they tour yours comfortably, safely and that they leave impressed.

Here’s the top 5 tips for showing your home:

  •  YOUR SHOULD NOT BE HOME! There is nothing worse than homeowners following and watching potential buyers while they tour their home. Let the showing agent do their job and answer any questions the buyer may have. You have the right to remain silent and anything you say can and may be used against you!
  • LEAVE THE LIGHTS ON AND CURTAINS OPEN Buyers have limited time to tour your home and trying to figure that “tricky” light fixture or find that light switch behind the wall isn’t fun-plus, it’s distracting! There is rarely enough time to open curtains or blinds throughout. Buyers will leave remembering how dark your house was-so let the sunshine in!
  • IT’S HARD TO SELL IT IF YOU CAN SMELL IT! No one wants to walk into a house and get a sudden whiff of “what died in here?” Fish, pet odours and other pungent smells are distracting, unpleasant and will raise questions about the overall care and maintenance of your home.
  • SPARKY AND FLUFFY SHOULD NOT BE HOME! or at least confine your furry companion to an area during the showing. Unfortunately not everyone is a pet lover and a jumpy dog or cat can be distracting and even annoying for some. You want the Buyer to focus on the “features” of your home not your super cute pet!
  •  CREATE A PLEASANT AMBIANCE Whenever possible leave soft music playing, set up air fresheners throughout and put out fresh flowers. Remember you want buyers to fall in love with your home…so knock their socks off!

Now you are ready for the Show! Remember that during the selling process your home is the stage and that everything is under the spotlight. Always ask yourself if you would “buy your own home” if you were currently looking for a house in today’s market.

Preparing your home for sale and showing it “at it’s best” are 2 out of the 3 key ingredients for MAXIMUM RESULTS. Do you know what the third ingredient is? What do you think is the most important thing when preparing for sale?


Selling your home with a PLAN

Selling a home is a balancing act. It is a multi-layered process than can quickly go from smooth and simple to complicated and stressful when you don’t have professional help.  There is a perfect recipe for every home and every sale and the job of a skilled, knowledgeable and experienced Realtor is to craft the right blend of “key ingredients” that will deliver sweet success. The right Realtor will have the “secret” sauce that will give you an edge over the competition-no matter what the circumstances.

Here are some of the basic GAME PLAN ingredients for a successful and profitable sale:






    *LOCATION is the only variable that we can’t control when it comes to selling a home, however it is the strategic manipulation of all the others that we do control that makes all the difference.

PRICING your home right from the beginning is one of the most important aspects of the sale.  It can make the difference between you (the Seller) being in the driver’s seat calling the shots during negotiations, or begging buyers for an offer.
It is a variable that you can fully control and use to your advantage!
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APPEARANCE is another key component of a successful and profitable sale. The “right” Realtor will prepare your home properly for sale so that it WOWS upon entering. From curb appeal to staging, to minor touch ups and repairs, your home should sparkle, impress and give buyers that “gotta have it” feeling-remember selling your home is a competition once it hits the market, the preparation is half the battle!
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NETWORK is the key component that your Realtor brings to the table.  It is at its core, the market to which your home will be exposed and marketed to. It includes a network of Realtors, prospects, clients, contacts, partners, affiliates, fans, followers, friends and anyone that your Realtor networks with. This is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing your agent since not all Realtors are created equal. Having a key player on your side will give you a competitive advantage over the competition.
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There are many other factors that go into play when selling your home, from strategic marketing  and exposure, to market conditions and neighbourhood dynamics, each one plays an important role and must be carefully monitored.
Your home is your biggest asset and when it comes to selling it,homeonseesaw Selling your home with a PLAN having a strong game plan is the key to putting the most in your pocket!