To sell or to renovate, that is the question…
In the Toronto real estate market, the question of home ownership and renovations are a regular, frequent and widespread topic. Where you live, when you bought your house, and if you are renovating or moving are topics that fill up endless water cooler conversations, coffee dates and spur many a wine-induced evening.
The cost of real estate continues to rise, with seemingly no end in sight. The land transfer tax, however, is a deterrent for many, as that is good money spent for no homeowner value. So the question of whether to sell or to renovate, truly does seem to be the key question.
“My advice to homeowners,” says Joelle Craig, architect and principal with WilliamsCraig Design, “is to do your research and create a priority wish list. Talk to a real estate agent and find out the market value of your current home, look at other properties in neighbourhoods where you’d like to live, and determine whether they are within your price point. Then also talk to a designer, architect and a contractor to see what the cost would be to tailor your current home to suit your needs and wish list.”
Here a few considerations that may help you work through this essential question:
1) You own property you can build on
Land is in scarce supply in this city. If you have a nice-sized lot in an area that you like, you are 80 per cent of the way there. With a nice sized lot and a renovation budget, you are in an enviable position to be the proud owner of your dream home. “Property is the key to home ownership in this city,” says David Batori, the No. 4 Canadian real estate agent. “Builders and people with renovation or building budgets are willing to pay whatever it takes to get into their preferred neighbourhoods — often a highly-desirable piece of land will sell over asking just because there are so few on the market.
2) Your house might not be the nicest on the street, so there’s room to increase value
If you are considering renovating and you are already the highest priced house on the street, you may want to pause and consider why. You do not want to price yourself out of the local market or be in a position where you cannot recoup your investment if your priorities change.
“You can increase your resale value by making a few quick investments in your property, things like a fresh coat of paint, some nice matching furnishings, and an attractive front are investments worth making when trying to maximize your sale price,” Batori says. “The investment is worth it, as those additional sale dollars will help you purchase your next home, ideally, your dream home.”
3) You already live in your favourite neighbourhood
Your neighbourhood is often a very personal choice, and your neighbours are also a key consideration. If you like where you live and you like your neighbours, you may never have it that good again in the city if you move.
“My husband and I were faced with the same question about three years ago – to sell or renovate,” says Craig, who recently lived through this decision process. “We began looking at slightly larger homes in our current neighbourhood and further afield, but given the cost of these homes that still required so much work to make them work for us, in addition to all the relocation costs (real estate fees, transfer taxes, moving costs, etc.) it made more sense for us to invest in our current location and truly customize our home to our taste and how we like to live.”
4) The schools in your area are highly rated
Schools have become a key consideration for parents. If you are looking for a high-performing public school, than its EQA scores and its reputation are key when considering whether to stay or to go. Look long and hard at this, as a private school alternative will quickly add $25,000 per child per year to your budget calculations. “Allenby continues to be a highly desired school district, and so people are willing to pay a premium to be in this area so that their children get a great education,” says Batori. “It’s a cost-effective trade off so that they live in a great area, and are able to go to a great school.”
5) You have some specific thoughts about use of space and finishings
No matter whether you purchase and renovate a home or buy brand new, the way to make your stamp on your place is in the finishing touches – the wall colour, lights, furniture, window coverings and all of the final essentials that transform a house into a home.
Likely whether you opt for new or to renovate someone else’s space, you will likely discover that you don’t like the choices made by someone else, and you may end up paying a premium on a newly done house, only to find that you have to invest again to make it work the way that you want.
The question of renovating can be a significant one — there’s the inconvenience, the cost, the risk of taking on a project if you feel ill equipped.
“For some people, the thought of renovating is much too stressful and overwhelming, and therefore the idea of selling and finding something, that on the surface, appears to be better suited your needs seems like the right solution,” says Craig. “It is very rare these days to find a home to buy on the market that is tailored to suit all of a client’s needs or tastes and therefore, it becomes an evaluation process based on priorities and cost considerations on whether to invest in your current home or to sell and buy new.
“Working with the right team of professionals can help highlight efficiencies and opportunities in your current home that may not seem obvious on the surface. Often times, rethinking the layout of your home and designing clever solutions to simple issues can make a space feel completely different and brand new.”
To learn more about Joelle Craig, WilliamsCraig Design, please visit: www.williamscraigdesign.com
To learn more about David Batori, please visit: www.davidbatori.com