Often times when I visit someone who is considering listing their property for sale, I'm asked "Should I paint", or "Should I finish the basement", or "Should I reno the kitchen" before we sell? The assumption is that by making these improvements they will be able to net a higher price. Unfortunately the answer isn't always as clear cut as "Yes" or "No".

First, consider the renovation itself. The Appraisal institute of Canada surveys it's members each year, and consistently finds that kitchens and bathrooms net the best rates of return (no shocker there), while items such as a pool, fence or skylights net little if any return.

All these stats however, need to be taken into overall context of the home itself, its location, time of year and the desires of the seller. I often tell my clients that a home is like a wheel. When all the spokes are strong, the wheel is at it's maximum. However, when even a few spokes are broken or missing, the wheel suffers a disproportionate drop in strength. So when considering if you should undertake some renovations, look at the house over all. If the entire house is dated, then updating just the kitchen is unlikely to net you the return you are hoping for. At the same time, if your home is done to the 9's on the inside but lacks curb appeal, you might want to consider spending money on landscaping (an area generally believed to have little return on investment). And above all, make sure that your choices are what is currently trending in the Real Estate market. What was hot just a little while ago, might be out of fad with consumers' RAPIDLY changing tastes.

An experienced Realtor can help you navigate your choices, recommend trades people, share the latest trends and counsel you on the expected return for the money invested.