Friday, 27 March 2009

Is it wise to invest money in your home during these economic times? Part 1/3

As principal designer of Meade Design Group I am often asked how certain choices my clients make for their homes will affect their home’s value. I always try to stay up-to-date with changes in the real estate market and popular trends with homeowners.

I decided homeowners such as my blog followers may be interested in this information as well; and during a time of economic uncertainty it is always good to know that the money you are investing in your home will be a wise choice.

I wanted to take my questions to the experts so I asked my favourite local realtors in Victoria B.C. Canada to give me their insight on the relationship between designers and the housing market. Our panel includes:

Brenda Russell


Brenda has been a realtor since 1990, specializing in the Fairfield/Oak Bay area and is also a registered relocation specialist. The proof is in her sales: she has been the recipient of the Award of Excellence 5 out of 7 consecutive years, this award means that she is in the top percentile of sales within Vancouver Island, Royal LePage. She is not only accessible, but she is the most pleasant and warm individual one can imagine, we were so pleased to help her create her new image in 2007.

Roger Jones


Roger's career as a Real Estate Salesperson began in 2000 and has been driven almost exclusively by repeat and referral based business. Being a consistent MLS sales award winner and having grown up in Victoria, he has the local market expertise to help facilitate his clients' real estate related goals. Roger understands that every buyer or seller is unique and recognizes the importance of providing highly responsive service in building ongoing relationships with his clientele.

Tony Joe


A very active member of the Victoria Real Estate Board, Tony was born and raised in Victoria and knows his market well. A multiple award winner with RE/MAX, Tony has been practicing real estate since 1991 and has the sales and testimonials to prove his knowledge and success. Tony’s professionalism and easy-going personality makes each client’s real estate transaction a breeze. We were lucky enough to work with Tony on the interior design of his own home in 2006.

Iván Meade - Do you feel that any money a client invests in their homes is money well spent?

Brenda Russell - This is a difficult question because it depends so much on where and when the money is spent so I would have to say that my answer would be no.

Roger Jones - There are definitely rules that determine where money ought to be spent - consider local market factors (an outdoor swimming pool or air conditioning might be considered to add little value or even to be a liability in a climate such as ours, yet it is considered essential by many prospective buyers in Palm Springs). Also consider whether the renovation is strictly for resale or whether it is to increase your own enjoyment during your ownership of the property - most people will likely find that their position lies somewhere in between.

Tony Joe - This depends where. Swimming pools and other lifestyle upgrades are poor investments, as are overly unique or expensive fixtures. An owner cannot expect to upgrade certain items, enjoy them and hope that a prospective buyer has the same appreciation for them.

brynjolfson 006Brynjolfson Final Installation 018

Before & After Kona Residence - Meade Design Group

Iván Meade - If your answer is no, where do you think it is most important to invest or upgrade?

Brenda Russell - Buyers like to see all the latest trends such as granite counter tops in the kitchen or a spa tub in the bath or the latest wall colours or flooring. To what extent is a matter of budget and the times. A lovingly cared for home shows stability and good maintenance, a bit of style gives it taste and pizzazz and comfort.

Roger Jones - Fresh paint, wood flooring and kitchens and bathrooms (whether a complete renovation or a simple 'face lift') continue to be the higher return areas of the home from an investment point of view.

Tony Joe - Sound investments are increasing liveable area, kitchens and baths, flooring and colours.

march15 011 lmedia room maple bay Before & After Maple Bay - Meade Design Group

Iván Meade - Do you see value in bringing an interior designer into one of your clients homes for resale purposes?

Brenda Russell - I have upon several occasions seen the aesthetic value in using a designer to make even a few minor changes which have resulted in making a noticeable difference in the look and feel of a place. Even when it's something simple like a matter of un-cluttering or a photo grouping or furniture placement or a throw pillow here and there, the liveability of a room or area or house is suddenly highlighted and its potential is easier for a buyer to see.

Roger Jones - Definitely - particularly in a strong buyer's market such as we are currently experiencing. There is a lot of inventory for prospective buyers to choose from, so any way in which a homeowner can differentiate their property and make it really stand out (in a good way, of course!) could be of significant benefit.

Tony Joe - Most definitely, I recommend it often. Homes are very personal in nature and oftentimes a seller may be attached to themes or tones which may detract from the selling process, thereby resulting in either an extended or lower value sale.

march21 010kids loft3Before & After Maple Bay - Meade Design Group

Iván Meade - What are the 3 biggest changes a designer can help your clients do to improve the value of your home?

Brenda Russell - A theme. A style. A specialness.

Roger Jones
1. Helping to create a consistent look throughout the home
2. Helping with organization and the elimination of 'clutter'
3. Assisting with appropriate colour selections.

Tony Joe
1. Colours. Having an expert help with colour selection is an excellent idea and often inexpensive relative to other upgrades
2. Kitchen and baths. Unfortunately pricey renovations but here’s where the money goes a long way. Don’t renovate them to sell- you should at least enjoy them for a while before moving.
3. Exterior approach. There’s nothing like ownership pride when pulling up the driveway of your own home. Very helpful during resale as well.

bob milne 007 Untitled-1 Before & After Shoal Point - Meade Design Group

Please stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 coming soon.

MEADE DESIGN GROUP - THE BLOG. Copyright 2007-2011


Bonnie said...

That's an excellent question especially now. Thank you for the well written article and beautiful pictures. Can't wait to see what's in part 2 and 3... Its a great subject.

Mrs B said...

As always, a great interview Ivan. It is hard for me to even imagine what the economic climate is like over there at the moment, the worry and anxiety people must be feeling about the future.
The after shots of rooms in the pictures look fabulous and if you were going to sell your home then definately a designer would be money worth spent...even ifs it just have de clutter a bit or add one or two very special homewares to a room. I think it is very wise have someone come in with a fresh approach and 'tell it the way it is'. Sometimes what we think looks great may be too personal for a house that is trying to be sold for top dollar.
Mrs B

Things That Inspire said...

What a wonderful post, especially for someone (like me) who watches the real estate listings every week!

I particularly enjoyed the recommendation to make changes that you will enjoy for a while before selling a home. I think about how reluctant I was to remodel our master bathroom 5 or 6 years ago (we had a leaky shower). We went ahead and gutted it and did a complete re-do with beautiful natural stone, and there is not a day when I do not think how much I like my master bathroom.

You before and after pictures were the perfect way to illustrate this post. What a talented team you have at Meade Design Group!

Maria Killam said...

A theme, a style, a specialness! I love that. . . hmmm I see a blog posting idea.

Fabulous post Ivan, you are such a talented designer!
This was very informative, thank you.

Brillante Interiors said...

Great questions, great answers.
I agree with most of them and my opinion is also the need to consider where the house is located, consider the neighborhood's average value. Spending too much in renovations for a simple house in an area not considered at premium may not bring any return.
A professional Decorator or a Stager can really help to avoid costly mistakes.
I also need to add that I find this "renovation versus return" very North American, here we think about re-selling value even before buying! I guess it is part of a constantly "moving" population, while in Europe there is still much more stability,in terms of jobs, careers, roots...and buildings last for centuries. People renovate their houses mostly for the pleasure of "living in it" perhaps for a lifetime, which to me makes more sense.

Unknown said...

Great interviews Ivan. There is alot of truth in what Albarosa said. People in America tend to think of a house as marketable short term item instead of a home. The approach that a Designer will take depends upon alot of factors. That is why the initial meeting is so important to evaluate all the objectives: lifestyle, budget, family considerations, how clients live in their home etc. If the home is only a temporary stop then the considerations are different than if the home will be loved and lived in for years. The budget needs to be balanced wisely and that is where an experienced professional can really make a difference. Your before and after pictures speak for themselves.

Karena said...

Ivan, also a great new work of art or even reframing and matting art you have can make a huge difference in updating the appearance of your interior design..