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So, you’re thinking about selling your home and want the greatest return? The good news: you’re almost always better off avoiding major renovations and focusing on small – but important – upgrades instead.

While every interior designer, stager and REALTOR has their own list of favourite upgrades to make before selling, here are the BREL Top 10 Budget-friendly Updates to Increase Value:

1. Landscape cleanup

Let’s talk about curb appeal. According to a study done by Michigan State University, landscaping/hardscaping can increase a home’s value by 5-11% and shorten the time it takes to sell. If you don’t have the budget to hire a pro: cut the grass, tend the weeds, clear dead leaves, buy some new low-maintenance plants to fill in any gaps in your garden (we like hostas), mulch everything (we love mulch!) and trim any overgrown bushes and hedges. A few containers filled with colourful flowers can make a world of difference too.

2. Spruce up the front door

Your front door is the first thing buyers see when they walk up to your home, so spending some money to spruce it up goes a long way. If you don’t want to replace the entire door, give it a fresh coat of paint and replace the handle. A colour analysis by real estate website Zillow found that front doors in shades of black or charcoal can raise the price of your home by 2.9%. On a $700,000 home, that could be an additional $21,750. Not too shabby for a DIY!

3. Revamp the Deck

Continuing with our theme of a sexy exterior, let’s talk about decks. Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report found that adding a wooden deck is the most cost-effective home improvement project to add value. If you already have a wood deck, a good power washing and new stain can make it look brand new (this is one of our Broker Lisa Bednarski‘s favourite upgrades).

4. New light fixtures

While this may not necessarily add direct value to your home, lighting has the ability to boost your home’s perceived value. The right light fixture can enhance an entire room, even become the room’s highlight, and look like a million bucks. Occasional lamps and lighting can really brighten a space too (and you can take it with you when you leave).

5. New hardware

BREL Broker Allie Rempel loves upgrading hardware fixtures to freshen up a room. New cabinet handles are affordable (and they’re super easy to install) and can make old, tired cabinets look more modern. Installing new faucets in the kitchen and bathrooms and investing in a new toilet can also help in your budget-friendly makeover.

6. Freshen kitchen cabinets

If your kitchen cabinets are old and boring, consider staining or painting them. Home Depot sells cabinet stains starting at $10, and a box of modern cabinet handles will run you about $40. For less than $100, you can have updated cabinets! If you aren’t a DIY-er, you can always hire a pro.

7. Fresh coat of paint

A fresh coat of paint is our #1 recommendation to increase the value of your home. Having trouble picking a colour? When in doubt, white it out. In HomeLight’s Agent Insights for 2020, 98% of real estate agents surveyed agreed that neutral colour schemes are most-favoured by buyers (though we love a good bold highlight wall too). Make sure to caulk any cracks or holes after cleaning the walls, and add primer to prevent bleed-through.

8. Clean or replace bathroom caulking

It seems miniscule, but walking into a bathroom with dirty, old caulking can be such an eyesore. BREL Broker Matthew Shapiro recommends cleaning or replacing the caulking and grout. Check out these tutorials to learn how to get dirty caulking looking brand new.

9. Create a warm welcome in your foyer

First impressions are everything. When a buyer walks into your home, it should feel warm and inviting. Consider using a bold paint colour and never include more than you need in the compact space. No closet? No problem! Hat stands or beautiful hooks can add character on the cheap and investing in a nice console does double-duty: storage and design! We love a nice new door mat too. BREL Designer Kiel Storms always stresses the importance of a well lit, bright foyer that’s functional too. He encourages homeowners to ask themselves: Can I check myself in a mirror before I leave the house? Is there an easy place to drop my keys if I’m home or a bottle of wine if guests are visiting?

10. Clean the windows

Professional interior cleaning is a given for BREL clients…but if you really want to impress potential buyers, consider having your windows cleaned too (inside and out). While you can DIY, there is no comparison to the pros getting rid of stains, pollution and dust. Let the light shine in!


When it comes to deciding what to upgrade before selling your home, make sure to focus on the things that will add value. Check out our blog: Don’t Waste Your $$ On These Upgrades, and when it doubt – ask your REALTOR. The pre-listing process doesn’t have to be stressful – especially when you’ve got the BREL team on your side.

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