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Planning For Success In Real Estate

An article from the Chronicle Herald by Vanessa Roman

My husband always has a plan. He plans for the little things like grocery shopping by grouping our shopping list items according to the store map for maximum efficiency, to the big things like investment decisions for the future — and everything in between. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard him quote the adage, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

When it comes to success in real estate, having a solid plan is one of the essentials.

We are moving into the time of year when traditionally the real estate market starts to slow down. But if you would like to sell your home when the market picks up in the spring, then fall and winter are a great time to tackle those inside jobs we all tend to put off when the weather is warmer. It all starts with a plan and a budget.

When it comes to a resale renovation budget, the rule of thumb I like to use for a cosmetic overhaul is one to three per cent of the value of your home. If you need a structural renovation you could end up spending more than 10 per cent of the value of the home.

Choose your improvements wisely; consult your real estate agent, contractor and interior designer to see which areas of your home they think need the most work before beginning any new projects. There is no point in overhauling one feature of a space if it breaks the budget, leaving no money left to improve the rest of the room because you will end up with a mess and an empty bank account.


A good example of this is kitchen renovations. Open any designer magazine and your renovation daydreams kick into high gear; stunning granite countertops, sub-zero stainless steel appliances, imported glass tile backsplashes and custom-designed cabinetry look fantastic as a completed package. But that glamorous room comes with a substantial price tag. By blowing your renovation budget on a single item you highlight the sad state of the rest of the package.

Similarly, if you were going to replace all the wiring (through necessity or simply a good investment in an older property and for energy savings), you can’t do just one room, ending up with varying power demands and capacities in your home. You’d be sensible to do the whole thing at once, despite the mess, inconvenience and cost. Targeted improvements always trump slap-dash renovations.


Painting is one of the essentials when planning to sell a home. I have never walked into a re-sale home that couldn’t use a lick of new paint somewhere. Paint is the quickest and least expensive way to dramatically change the look and feel of your house. At minimum, you should be repainting your entire property once every five years and always just before you decide to sell.

Remember to choose a neutral colour palate. While your personal tastes may run to the more exotic and flamboyant colours — there is definitely beauty in the plumage of a male peacock — embrace the neutrality of the female version when trying to appeal to the masses.

While most homeowners are willing to tackle this renovation themselves, it is almost always a bad idea. It will take you twice as long to complete the job and it will look half as good as a professional painter would do. So don’t bother. Call a professional and have the job done right, the first time.


Once you are past the fall and winter months and the time gets closer to actually listing your house for sale, you will want to focus your efforts on the exterior projects. Having proper drainage is one of the more important ones so consider the type of soil you have and light available but more importantly, have a solid grasp on the overall cost of landscaping. Too many people make the mistake of thinking, “It’s just a few trees and plants, how much can they cost?” The reality is that landscaping renovations can be almost 30 per cent more expensive than other home improvement projects.

Get a good renovation and your home will be better for you and your family, or for the next family to move in. Having a well-researched plan and keeping a close eye on the bottom line is the best recipe for success.