It’s the annual slow season in the real estate market.  So what can you do to make your house stand out to catch the eye of potential buyers?

A major clean and a fresh coat of paint are a must but experts say your real return will come from renovations.

But how do you ensure you’re getting the best value for your renovation buck?

Patty Morgan stages homes for a living and says the first renovation everyone should do is improving your home’s curb appeal.  This can be as easy as a few potted plants outside to a new walkway or driveway.

“Within the first 10 seconds of a drive by is when potential buyers are going to decide if they want to come in or keep on driving”, says Morgan

Lohmer Real Estate Appraiser, Murray Bechtel, agrees.  He adds that you have to make sure your house stands in line with every other property on the street.  “If you have gravel [driveway] and most [homes] in your neighbourhood don’t have gravel [then] do an asphalt drive.”

Once you get buyers inside, real estate agent Peter Schneider says a thorough cleaning will only improve the chances of an offer.  “Cleaning is the biggest thing.  Cleaning the windows, making sure your fixtures are nice and bright and making the home as bright as possible.”

And to get offers you shouldn’t shy away from a few costly renovations. 

“The two most common are kitchens and bathrooms, that’s where you get the most bang for your buck”, says local contractor Art Janzen.

Several surveys back that up, including one from Re/Max.

“On an average house if you spend $10,000 on a kitchen you get about $15,000 in return”, says Schneider.  He adds, “The worst investment you could do would be a pool or a hot tub.  If you put $50,000 into a pool you might only increase the value of the home by $25,000."

Another survey, done by The Real Estate Appraisal Institute of Canada, breaks down reno returns further:

  • Kitchen and bathroom - 75 to 100 per cent
  • Basements – 50 to 75 per cent
  • Window and Door Replacement – 50 to 75 per cent
  • Exterior Siding and Flooring – 50 to 75 per cent
  • Sky Lights – 0 to 25 per cent
  • Whirlpool tubs – 0 to 25 per cent
  • Swimming Pools – 0 to 25 per cent

Experts say these numbers are only guidelines, however.  Only you can determine which improvements your property needs to ensure a fast and easy sale.