What are the home renovations that buyers want to see on the market? It’s a great question, and one you’ve likely pored over if you’re preparing to list your home for sale in the near future, or you’re embarking on a renovation with a thought to long-term resale value.
According to the 2021 RE/MAX Renovation Investment Report, more than half of Canadians underwent a home renovation for personal/non-ROI purposes, with 29% choosing to renovate for non-essential “lifestyle” reasons, such as recreation-inspired projects. Despite the trend of renovating for personal use and enjoyment, 59% of Canadians said they always consider the return on investment that a renovation will have on their home’s overall market value, so while there is a current renovation trend based on lifestyle aspirations, practicality is never far from the surface. From the homebuyer’s perspective, certain renovations are more in-demand than others.
So, what are the best home improvements to sell your home quicker and for top dollar? According to a survey of RE/MAX brokers across Canada, below is a list of what homebuyers want most. We’ve also sourced the ballpark costs for each, via Pillar To Post’s Residential Construction and Remodeling Estimates Cost Guide, to give you a rough idea of the level of investment required for each.
93.5% of RE/MAX brokers surveyed said kitchen renovations are most sought-after by homebuyers. The kitchen is typically the most complicated room in the home to renovate, and the most expensive. Many homebuyers who aren’t interested in taking on a big project will pay a premium to have this big project done for them. Depending on the age and condition of the home, kitchen updates can range from a complete gut job, to updates such as refacing or repainting cabinets, new hardware and appliances, countertop, backsplash and flooring.
kitchen cabinets: $50 to $125 per linear ft.
kitchen counter, laminate: $45 per linear ft.
kitchen counter, marble: $80 per linear ft.
dishwasher: $675 to $950
garbage disposal: $200 to $425
range hood: $350 to $525
porcelain sink: $750 to $900
stainless steel sink: $650 to $800
total cost: $7,500+
64.5% of RE/MAX brokers said new or updated bathrooms are in high demand by homebuyers. This trend echoes the above-mentioned kitchen reno rationale, whereby homebuyers who are unwilling to undergo the effort and inconvenience of a bathroom renovation willing to pay a premium to have this project already completed.
cabinets $50 to $125 per linear ft.
countertop, laminate: $45 per linear ft.
countertop, marble: $80 per linear ft.
pedestal basin: $375
vanity basin: $250
bathtub – replace / retile: $2,500+
shower connection: $250
shower stall, plastic: $900 to $2,000
shower stall, ceramic tile: $2,500 to $3,300
new toilet: $425
tub enclosure, ceramic tile: $2,500 to $3,300
tub enclosure, plastic: $600 to $1,275
whirlpool bath: $4,250
total cost: $5,250+
48.4% of RE/MAX brokers identified new flooring as a hot selling feature on the resale market. Depending on the size of the home and the scope of work being done, flooring would typically cost less than a kitchen and bathroom reno, but this is a great way to refresh the home, especially when paired with a fresh coat of paint. Carpet is actually considered to be a drawback by some homebuyers, so this is an update that’s worth completing prior to listing a home for sale.
carpet cleaning: $125 per room
carpet and underpad: $6 to $11 per sq. ft.
ceramic tile: $6 to $11 per sq. ft.
hardwood $6 to $11 per sq. ft.
prefinished hardwood: $11 to $16 per sq. ft.
refinishing hardwood: $3 to $6 per sq. ft.
vinyl sheets: $4 to $9 per sq. ft.
vinyl tile: $4 to $9 per sq. ft.
35.5% of RE/MAX brokers said buyers want a fresh coat of paint. This is a relatively simple and low-budget upgrade that makes a big impact on the look and feel (and sometimes, smell) of a property. Given the current seller’s market conditions in many regions across Canada, homes are selling like hotcakes, regardless of renovations. With this in mind, home sellers in particularly hot markets are keeping their reno efforts (and budgets) to a minimum. Paint is the simplest and cheapest way to freshen up the place.
Painting walls (3 coats): $2 per sq. ft.
22.6% of brokers identified basement renovations as a huge selling feature on the resale market. Quite simply, if it increases the usable square footage of the home, that’s a good thing in homebuyers’ books.
adding basement entrance: $5,250 to $10,500
basement main beam: $2,100 basement support post / foundation: $500 to $1,000
excavation / waterproofing: $125 to $175 per sq. ft.
foundation crack repair (excavation method): $525 to $1,100
foundation crack repair (injection method, cost per crack): $500
acoustic ceiling (suspended): $6 per sq. ft.
baseboard / door / window casing: $4 per linear ft.
drywall over plaster: $3 to $4 per sq. ft.
plaster (over existing plaster): $3 to $4 per sq. ft.
stucco / stipple: $3 per sq. ft.
walls (insulations / drywall): $4 per sq. ft.
painting walls (3 coats): $2 per sq. ft.
wallpaper: $6 to $11 per sq. ft.
Outdoors and Landscaping
19.4% of RE/MAX brokers said homebuyers are setting their sights on the great outdoors with landscaping and outdoor features becoming a popular “must-have” item. This trend became amplified during the course of the pandemic, which saw people spending more time in and around their homes, and buyers looking for bigger yards and features such as swimming pools/hot tubs, patios and decks to act as “outdoor living rooms.”
lay soil & sod: $3 to $6 per sq. ft.
sprinkler system: $1,200
concrete retaining wall: $55 per sq. ft.
wood retaining wall: $45 per sq. ft.
deck, pressure treated / cedar: $15 to $30 per sq. ft.
deck, custom designed & built: $55 to $80 per sq. ft.
patio, concrete: $16 to $25 per sq. ft.
patio, flagstone / fieldstone: $21 per sq. ft.
patio, interlock brick / stone: $11 to $16 per sq. ft.
patio stones: $6 per sq. ft.
porch flooring: $8 per sq. ft.
porch railing: $225
porch skirting: $21 per linear ft.
porch steps, concrete: $525
porch steps, wood: $325
chain-link fence (4-ft. high): $10 to $20 per linear ft.
cedar fence (5-ft. high): $15 to $30 per linear ft.
pressure treated wood fence (5-ft. high): $10 to $20 per linear ft.
reset post in concrete: $80
vinyl-lined pool (16ft. x 40ft.): $15,000 to $20,000
concrete-lined pool (16ft. x 40ft.): $30,000+
pool heater: $2,100
pump / filter: $1,600
fiberglass hot tub: $5,250+
*Cost estimates reflect the average basic costs for supplies and installation of building materials in Canada and the U.S., as anticipated for 2019-2020. Costs may vary depending on regions, upgrades, complexity and disposal fees.