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With a current market that favors sellers over buyers, agents need to be able to guide their clients towards a home that has potential, even if it isn’t necessarily perfect. This means helping buyers imagine ways in which easy renovations can be made to the home.
Alternatively, because buyers often make decisions based on emotions, they may not see that a roof needs to be redone or a basement is in bad shape. Whether it’s steering buyers towards a home with hidden opportunities or away from a stressful overhaul, here are a few renovation tips I like to bring to my clients when the inventory is low and the pace is fast.
1. Interiors can be changed, but the bones cannot
When showing a home, I look at the bones of the house—the construction materials, the windows, the roof—and if those are good, I remind my clients that other things can be modified later on. I encourage them to consider the main characteristics of the property that they like, such as the layout, the room sizes, the divisions, and the flow of the house. Buyers typically pay extra attention to kitchens and bathrooms, so if those renovations have been done already, the buyers are quite happy. If not, I encourage them to look at inexpensive ways that those rooms could be updated.
2. A new paint job makes a world of difference
It’s no secret to agents that painting can brighten up a space exponentially, and helping clients picture rooms in a different hue can change a home’s entire outlook. I tell my clients that there are many companies offering their services for easy renovations such as painting kitchen cabinets, and for time-conscious buyers, considering spray paint for exterior walls opens up new avenues for replacing outdated color decisions. As buyers’ long-term renovation goals are likely to evolve, it can be a good time to recommend quick cosmetic improvements like light fixtures and faucets—features that allow clients to put their stamp on a home without wading into heavy construction.
3. Tackle the renovations one room at a time
I like to remind clients that they can upgrade as the years go on—they don’t have to renovate everything tomorrow. They can take their time, room by room. This way, buyers can focus on the kitchen one year, tackle the basement another year, and later work on a nice playroom. Jumping into the market now and starting their investment in real estate is a good option. I try to help clients understand the realities of their buying journey, even if they’re not finding the perfect house right now. It doesn’t have to be the dream home, but there should be potential.
4. Allow clients to visualize the potential
I love to show clients what a home can look like through technology tools like 3D modeling and virtual staging. I also encourage them to look at the home’s surroundings. Is it convenient for their kids? Is it a growing neighborhood? As an agent, you want to help them fall in love with either something about the home or the surrounding area, so that renovations start to feel less daunting. Because of the current market, we often only have about 15 minutes to go through a home, so I believe pointing out the positive is integral to a quick decision-making process.
5. Have a referral list of contractors and service providers
Like any luxury agent, I have a list of contractors and professionals who work in the area, and I update that list as I make new contacts. As agents, we know the region, we know the people, and we know the contractors—we’re there to support the client through the entire process. Having this network available can bring buyers that much closer to feeling confident about a renovation.
Every buyer is different, and their perspective on a home is going to depend on their needs and what they’re looking for. Are they wanting a bigger home, or are they downsizing? Is their commute important? What are their non-negotiables, and where are they flexible? What you’re looking at needs to fit into those criteria, and then you can recommend changes accordingly.
My advice to agents is to keep an open mind. Since inventory is low right now, buyers are not going to find exactly what they’re looking for, but you can still show clients a home’s true potential, keep the experience positive, and guide them in the right direction.
Throughout her 16 years as a Real Estate Broker, Jennifer has been a recipient of numerous achievement awards. She is a member of the Quebec Organization for the Self-Regulation of Real Estate Brokerage (OACIQ) and the Greater Montréal Real Estate Board (GMREB). Jennifer’s years of real estate experience have allowed her to develop strong intuition and adaptability, allowing her to handle the most demanding situations with skill, tact, and discretion. Her clients throughout the years have commended her hard work, knowledge, dedication, resources, and humor to solve problems that may arise during a real estate transaction. Jennifer represents sellers for both residential and commercial properties as well as investment properties in Montréal, Laval, North Shore, and Laurentians.