Barry Klatt

Barry Klatt

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Buying & Selling Tips from Sandra Rinomato

Sandra Rinomato, host of HGTV's Property Virgins shared her most important tips home buyers and then she answered some of our viewers' real estate questions. Here's her best advice...

Sandra's top 5 BUYING tips

1. Consider the macro location

  • What's your proximity to work and play, think about the infrastructure. Have you selected the neighbourhood based on proximity to work, highways, transit, the infrastructure that works for you?
2. Consider the micro location

  • Think about what's close to the house you're interested in. Is it close to hydro towers, schools, parks, green space, busy shops and restaurants? All these things can mean more traffic and smells. Is the house on a corner of a busy street across from a school?  These things can often be deterrents, but some families want these conveniences:  
  • Side yard space
  • Bus stop close by 
  • Can watch the kids walk to school from the front porch or window, 
  • BUT all of this affects value; the house down the street is worth more!

3. Really take the time to look at what your lifestyle will look like in the area you're interested in because these types of things are difficult to change. For example - does the house have a back yard, is there a main floor bath for the older generation, does it include parking, is there a side door, are there too many bedrooms and not enough kitchen space?

4. Do you like it? Before you get out your check list, walk through the home and see how you feel about it. This is so important. Who cares how old the furnace is if you are not interested in the house?

5. Run the numbers. Look at things such as utilities, property tax, maintenance costs (fixed or variable), repairs, and savings.

Viewer questions answered

Sarah took on some of our viewers' real estate questions.

1. My kitchen is renovated and shows really well but the counter top is laminate. I'd like to upgrade to something like Granite or Corian. Is it worth the investment for re-sale? Thanks Lorraine

It all depends on your location and the condition of the home. If you have a newer kitchen with the bells and whistles and it is just missing the stone counter top, then I would consider doing it, provided the house has not been over improved. Generally speaking, a counter top like that can be put in for a few thousand dollars, if it is just standard depth. Remember, you will need to under mount a sink, too, so figure that into the cost. However, if the entire house is dated, adding stone counter tops would be like putting a bandaid on it.

2. I have a renovated house but two of the rooms have stucco ceilings.  Could I see a return on my investment if I cover them up with drywall?  - Lindsay

You have seen on the show when the virgins are complaining about the popcorn ceilings, making the home feel dated, and I'm sure there are other buyers that feel the same way. If you have never painted the ceilings, the removal is easier, but messy. You need to spray it with water and scrape it off. Underneath you will see drywall or plaster, the popcorn was sprayed on to that. The cost of putting in drywall has to be evaluated against the reward. Are you doing it for yourself or just resale? If just resale, are there other things that need to be done on the list, ahead of ceilings? Your realtor can help evaluate this with you.

3. I live in an up-and-coming area of a big city. Is it true that you want to own the worst house on the best street? If so, does that mean that if you have the nicest house on the street, you should avoid doing major renos until the others catch up? Thanks, Diana 

You may not want to own the worst house on the best street, I think the expression is you don't want to own the most expensive/biggest house (or condo). Here's why: if you own a million dollar home in a $500,000 area it will be difficult to get the value of your home, and it will be difficult to find the buyer. If he has $1m to spend, he'll go to a million dollar area. Average sells, so in a condo, if the average is a 1 bedroom floor plan, say 800 feet, the penthouse at 2000 feet will be a tough sell, and will ultimately get less than the same sized unit in a building where 2000 feet was average. To address the question of renos, do what pleases you to suit your life. If you are planning to flip, don't buy the biggest house. Buy average. Average sells all day long.

4. Is it better to buy a condo in the city or a small house in the outskirts of suburbia? Which would be a better investment for the first-time buyer? Shari

This is a lifestyle question that only the buyer can answer. Proximity to work, does the area have the infrastructure you need, is the area trending up and what is the historical values data, is the city one where the core is "the place to be" or is it one where it empties out at 5pm, and so on.

5. How much should you spend in renovations to get a good return and where should you spend most money? Kitchen and bathrooms?   Shelly

There is no rule. We walk in to homes and determine what it will take to get this house in line with what the buyers want. Every neighbourhood is different. Talk to your realtor to help determine what upgrades you should consider. As a rule, kitchens and baths, but to be honest I've seen great places with old kitchens sell in multiple offers so be aware that it is very specific to your area and home.


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