By Natalie Belovic

When you renovate your home, even if you don’t plan on selling it soon, you are also increasing its value.

But if you are planning on selling in the near future, it’s good to know what things you should consider changing, and how far you should go with it.

What are some of the renovations that have the most impact on a house sale – not just financially but as a way to make the sale likely to happen faster?

According to most real estate brokers, there are two rooms that buyers look for: kitchens and bathrooms. They want them to be high-quality, up-to-date, aesthetically pleasing and functional. Other good investments, they say, are home theatres, hardwood floors, and state-of-the-art laundry rooms.

It can be expensive to renovate properly, but it does bring good return. If, for example, you spend about $20,000 on a kitchen, you can expect to recover anywhere up to 100 per cent or more of your renovation costs when it comes time to sell. Old or outdated kitchens, when beautifully renovated, seem to make the biggest impact.

Real estate people also tell you to keep it simple when you’re choosing colour and fixtures in any part of your house. Keep them neutral, even if that brilliant orange is calling to you. It’s okay to do that if you know you’re staying put, but if “selling” is on your mind, dial back a few (or several) notches.

People tend to like granite or some of the latest and high-end products in countertops. They like stainless steel and lots of storage. They like high-quality, sensible, well-functioning bathrooms, ideally with some of the latest features and good lighting. But a bathroom doesn’t have to be fancy. It just has to be in perfect order.

Real Estate brokers also look for other important “saleability” elements: cleanliness, for one. A lack of clutter. A fresh, smoke-free smell. Even the smallest things in perfect repair – a house that looks as though it has been lovingly maintained. No one wants to think about all the things they have to fix in a home before they even begin living in it.

Bottom line: if you want to sell your house, make sure it’s something someone wants to buy, and at your price. People in the real estate business say that’s the first and most important step in selling success.

Natalie Belovic is a broker with the Urban Office Team part of RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Group, Brokerage