Don’t Lower Your Home’s Value With Quirky Renos

Home makeovers and updates are touted as a sure-fire way to increase curb appeal and boost your home’s value. But not all projects are created equal; some can actually lower the value of your home and make an eventual house sale more difficult.

While you can still follow your heart when planning quirky home renovations, you should do it for your own enjoyment. Here are some of the projects that can work against you:

  • Over-the-top renos: Certainly buy top-of-the-line everything for your kitchen or bathroom project, but if the finished product is too out of synch with neighbouring properties, don’t expect to recoup your investment when you sell.
  • Pools: Like a big garden, a pool requires work. Keeping it in good running order can be expensive. Prospective buyers may pass on a home with a pool for safety reasons.
  • Additions: Adding extra square footage to your home will likely mean increased property taxes and potentially higher utility bills. Keep that in mind when weighing cost and benefits. A DIY addition can also be problematic; only tackle a project of this nature with the help of professionals.

Also, your neighbours’ tumble-down fences, overgrown shrubs, and a front or backyard full of junk, can scare off potential buyers. Most municipalities have by-laws to encourage people to maintain their properties. If your neighbours won’t respond to suggestions – or offers to help clean up – contact your local government.

Will CMHC Continue Condo Ownership Research?

In the past, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) was the source of information on buying a house. It meant good home-buying tips, reliable statistics, and the comfortable feeling that our “government” housing expert wouldn’t send us down the wrong path. CMHC was also the place we went for mortgage loan insurance; many of us were able to buy our first home thanks to CMHC.

That was then; this is now. Now we’re more likely to go to one of thousands of websites for home-buying tips. And although it is still a major provider of mortgage loan insurance, CMHC shares that role with others.

Now CMHC is attempting to bring back its authoritative voice after a damning report from CIBC deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal suggesting that Canadians know zip about the state of our own housing market.

As CMHC’s CEO, Evan Siddall, told the Globe and Mail: “We’ve been a little bit internally focused; we’ve been a little bit confined about the information we’ve shared with people.” So CMHC will undertake housing market research where data gaps exist.

Its first effort was a survey designed to redress a lack of data on condo ownership, released this past summer. The issue has been a hot button in many urban areas, where the booming condo scene has raised concerns about offshore ownership in the market.

Interestingly, the CMHC survey failed to address this issue. The survey found that of 42,426 Vancouver and Toronto households who owned condos last August and September, 17.1 percent were owned by investors. But it didn’t establish how many of these were foreign-owned.

Using CMHC’s figures, Tal figured the total is 5 percent. However, others believe it could be much higher, at least in Toronto; T.O. condo specialist Brad Lamb estimated it could be as high as 50 percent.

Most analysts are hoping for more specific ownership information from CMHC.