What to Forget When Downsizing

Figuring out how much work needs to be done to your home before selling it and downsizing is stressful stuff. Add in the costs of relocating, the hassle of culling your possessions and the emotional hardship of saying goodbye to a beloved home, and you’re looking at a recipe for disaster. So, let’s take some of the panic out of moving by outlining what should be done before packing up.

Think the buyers of your home will love the new carpeting as much as you did? Think again. Sellers are often shocked to learn new carpeting was ripped out shortly after selling, in favour of hardwood or laminate.

Sellers need to ask themselves, “Is this to the buyer’s taste? Will I recover the funds spent?” A lot of the time, the decision to do pre-sale renovations is up to how much time, money and disruptions the seller is willing to put up with.

There are certain must-fixes, such as a leaky roof, broken windows or an ineffective septic system. Anything that would cause buyer concern, or be seen as a liability, should be fixed.

For cosmetic fixes, buyers will value different things about the house, and it’s important for the seller to be open to this and not let their own feelings guide decisions too strongly.

Downsizers will typically sell their large home to “upsizers,” who are in the tightest budgetary times of their lives. A home that has the big-ticket items completed in the past five years: Roof, furnace, air conditioning and windows, is most attractive.

If you still feel like an update is needed to catch the eye of a prospective buyer, focus on the bathroom and kitchen. White is a huge kitchen trend right now, so consider a coat or two of paint, and definitely replace any broken appliances or fixtures.

A ton of money doesn’t need to be spent. There are many inexpensive finds on Kijiji or local community buy and sell pages. You can also update accessories, like towel racks or changing light fixtures or faucets, to give your home a fresh appearance without spending a fortune.

Heritage designation may play a role in what you can and can’t do to a home. With lead pipes, asbestos abatement, insulation issues and roofing profiles having significant legal impediments and oversight by governments, renovations may be legally necessary.

In areas of Canada, such as Vancouver, where property prices outweigh the value of the house sitting on the land, improvements may be a waste, so make sure you research the market trends in your area before replacing or gutting anything. Why put money into a renovation when all a buyer sees is the land it’s sitting on?

Keep in mind the cardinal rule of selling: De-clutter and depersonalize. Buyers open cupboards and drawers all the time. Go through your cupboards, organize things and pack up stuff to show there is plenty of storage.

Moving is a lot a work no matter how you look at it, but it doesn’t have to include a disruptive renovation on top of it. Spend smartly and you’ll be settled in your new downsized home in no time.