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5 Tips to Turn Your Starter Home into a Luxury Haven

Every buyer is looking for their own little slice of high-end heaven, and these improvements can help your

home be just that. Each one of these tips will add a touch of luxury on a starter home budget. If you want

to add value to your starter home but don’t have the big bucks for major renovations, read on.


Light It Up

If your starter home still has the same basic lighting fixtures you had when you first moved in, it’s time to remove them. Replace any overhead lights with modern, show-stopping pendant fixtures to instantly update the space and bring it into the current age.

Every nook and cranny should have a pair of matching wall sconces or side lamps, so that no area is left in the darkness. Also, consider installing dimmer switches. Being able to create mood lighting is huge when staging and showing off the space.


Curtain Call

When you move into a starter home, usually there isn’t enough budget for a new window treatment for every room. If you’re trying to take your home’s look from basic to beautiful, consider ordering a set of custom drapes and blinds.

Source a local sewing shop or window-dressing company to get a quote for all your windows and glass doors. Thick linens, damasks or textured silks are held up as the most luxurious fabrics and will instantly make your home feel like a high-end hotel.


Wired In

Time has become a luxury in the busy, modern world, so having automated home features home is worth a lot. Installing a wireless home control system that’s tapped into the thermostat, lighting and entertainment devices throughout your house has major appeal.

Bring down the temperature with a sweep across an iPad or play a carefully curated “open house” playlist with a simple tap. Showing a house that’s set up for tech-savvy buyers presents a property that understands what true luxury means.


Counter Offer

A starter home is usually affordable because it needs a lot of work, but choosing which project to start with is key. If a full kitchen reno is out of the question, start with the area most people hone in on the moment they walk in — the countertops.

While 1970s vinyl laminate certainly stood the test of time, it does nothing to increase the value of your property. Consider replacing it with a slab of classic Carrera marble or even a beautiful, white marbled quartz. Strategically scattering these types of high-end materials throughout the home gives the space a luxurious effect without overdoing it (or overspending).


Wellness Room

Modern buyers are looking for properties that have a little extra something that sets them apart and supports their active lifestyle. While you may not have the budget for an indoor swimming pool, sauna room or expansive games room, there is another option.

Find a quiet, underused corner in your starter home and set it up with yoga mats, floor cushions and mediation candles. Imagine doing a set of morning sun salutations and evening mindfulness practices with calm chanting playing in the background. Taking care of your body and mind is a luxury not everyone can afford, but having a wellness area in your home is a good start.

Adding touches of luxury to your starter home shouldn’t cost you a fortune. These five tips will put you on the right path. With some small, smart improvements you can add real value to your home and potentially move up the real-estate scale yourself. Then you can dream about which luxury features you’d want in your next property purchase. The options are endless.

Common Concerns of Luxury Home Buyers & Sellers

Every day, RE/MAX Sales Associates across Canada work with homebuyers who are searching for their luxury dream home, and sellers who are seek to transition into the next chapter of their lives.

We reached our to our RE/MAX Influencers — a panel of RE/MAX Sales Associates from across Canada — to find out the top concerns of luxury homebuyers and sellers. Here’s what we learned.

Luxury Buyers’ #1 Concern: Location

When we think of luxury homebuyers, we are often quick to picture stunning homes and amazing features, but our RE/MAX Influencers agreed that luxury buyers are as interested in location as any other segment of the market.

Desirability of a location may be affected by numerous factors. Some buyers want privacy; others are looking for a magnificent view. Many want proximity to the best school in town; and then there are those who simply want to have friendly neighbours.

Our RE/MAX Influencers agreed that it’s incredibly important that real estate understand the demographics of each neighbourhood the buyer is interested in.

“I know my market inside out. Typically, that is the confidence [luxury homebuyers] are looking for,” says Heidi Lussi, RE/MAX Vernon.

Luxury Buyers’ #2 Concern: Price

With most luxury properties exceeding seven figures, it may be no surprise that the second most common concern voiced by luxury buyers is cost.

Luxury buyers want to ensure that they’re not paying too much, and that the neighbourhood will hold its value. Many also have questions about future property tax assessments and other costs associated with renovations.

“At the higher price points, sometimes finding comparable properties is difficult. You have to provide your buyer with as much research and information as possible so they can make an educated decision,” says Ron Neal, RE/MAX Alliance.

Luxury Buyers’ #3 Concern: Quality/Features

The third most important concern for luxury homebuyers is quality.

High-end finishes, modern appliances, “smart” features, a pool, a spacious lot and garage space were all listed as key features important to today’s luxury buyer. Many are interested in that “wow factor” that is not often found in an average residential home.

“As a sales associate, it’s important to be aware of the most reputable builders and developers, so we can steer our buyers in the right direction,” says Leslie Cannon, RE/MAX Crest Realty (South Granville).

Luxury Sellers’ #1 Concern – Marketing

When it comes to selling a luxury property, the biggest concern is how the house is marketed.

Luxury sellers want to know that their home is getting the exposure needed for a successful sale. They also want the peace of mind that their sales associate has the experience and contacts necessary to get the highest possible price for their home. Finally, they want to make sure that the home’s key features are given the attention they deserve.

Our RE/MAX Influencers stressed the importance of marketing luxury homes nationally and internationally, identifying the right buyer and then advertising accordingly.

“I always make sure to explain my standards are high and I educate why I will be doing things a certain way,” says Rhonda Navratil, RE/MAX River City.

Luxury Sellers’ #2 Concern – Price

Those who are selling a luxury property want offers that reflect what the property is worth.

Sales associates must be able to justify their pricing by showing comparable properties that substantiate the listing price. It’s incredibly important that the real estate agent has a keen market knowledge.

To ease sellers’ concerns, our RE/MAX Influencers said it’s important to explain what they can expect during the negotiation process, so there aren’t any surprises down the road.

5 Big Secrets to Selling a Luxury Property for Top Dollar

With so many uncontrollable factors at play, selling a luxury property can be more of an art form than a science. That being said, there are a handful of steps you can take to make sure your high-end home gets the star treatment. Use these five selling techniques to put your soon-to-be-profitable property on the top of luxury buyers’ lust lists.

Know Your Audience

Since luxury homes come with high price tags, there’s a very specific portion of the population who can pursue them. Creating a predictive psychological profile of your potential high-end buyer will help you hone in on their wants, needs and dreams. You’re not casting a wide net but are looking for a specific audience for marketing—if you build it, they will come.


Story Telling

Sure, you’re selling your home’s incredible features and design elements, but what else is going to motivate that big buy-in? Look at the lifestyle you can offer a buyer, such as proximity to an excellent Pilates studio, protected parklands and top-notch schools. The secret to selling a luxury property is understanding a buyer’s motivation to spend big—it’s the life they see themselves living there.


Focus In

When deciding where to focus your marketing material, the two most important rooms are the master bedroom and the kitchen. In the kitchen, call out the high-end appliances it has, such as a Viking stove or Bosch dishwasher, these types of buyers look for brands. In the bedroom, it’s all about the luxury features, such as a walk-in closet and spa-like ensuite.


Price is Right

Setting the right price on a luxury property is extremely important — and difficult. There are fewer comparable homes to reference and they tend to be custom-built with features that aren’t necessarily for everyone. Make the price too high and it will sit on the market, only to force you to pop it up again later at a lower asking price (never a good look). Looking at similar properties that have sold quickly in the area will help give you a range to work with.


People Person

Marketing, showing and selling a luxury property takes a lot more finesse than an average home—the stakes (and payouts) are higher. Look for a real estate agent who’s well versed in the language of luxury and who understands the power of professional photography. Make sure they’re tech-savvy as well—social media has become a massive tool for getting a listing in front of the right eyes.