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Cost-Effective Renos and Upgrades

March 08, 2004

Scrap the pink bathtub, replace your old mailbox, and don’t waste money on basements!
Residential real estate investment expert has lots of good tips
for getting the most from your redecorating and renovating dollars

Calgary, Alberta – March 8, 2004 – Whether you’re sprucing up your own home for    resale, or upgrading a rental property, there are tried-and-true methods of generating the most from your redecorating and renovating investment, says expert Don R. Campbell.

Campbell is President of the Real Estate Investment Network (REIN™), a national organization that teaches the latest strategies and trends in residential real estate investment in structured monthly workshops. The knowledge has enabled REIN’s 900-plus members to buy more than 8,200 properties worth $750 million and growing.

At a recent REIN™ workshop focusing on enhancing the value of existing real estate investments, veteran REIN™ Members Arlen Dahlin and Michael Millenaar offered cost-effective advice for every room of a home.

Let’s start with the bathroom. If you have a bathtub, toilet and/or sink in one of those pink, green or blue hues that were popular in the ‘60s, ditch them. Yes, there are a few potential buyers or renters who like the retro look. But if you want the home to have widespread appeal, install modern white tubs, toilets and sinks.

While still in the bathroom, replace your out-dated brass-coloured or chrome towel racks with modern pewter-like versions. And replace your old ceramic tiles with a one-piece “surround” system. It’s easy to install (sometimes right on top of the old tile), looks up-to-date, and is much less prone to mould and mildew.

Campbell has similar advice for kitchens. Replace the harvest gold or green appliances with white ones, replace out-dated brass/chrome handles, and install modern countertops (black or beige patterns are popular). Also replace your 70s-style dark-wood cupboards, but do it the inexpensive way by simply painting them in hard white enamel.

As for the living room, bedrooms and hallways, use taupe paint on most walls, and white on baseboards, trim, doors and casings. “Taupe and white sound bland, but they provide a classic look that most buyers and renters find very appealing,” Campbell says.

Replace the old brass-coloured doorknobs and light fixtures with modern pewter-like ones, and then turn your attention to floor coverings – getting rid of shag and multi-textured carpets, and gold, green, red or other unsightly linoleum.

“One test for floor coverings is to ask yourself: ‘Would I want my kids or grandkids to play on this?’ If not, get rid of it,” says Campbell, who has invested in more than 200 residential properties in the past 20 years, and who has also learned from the renovation experiences of longtime REIN™ members Arlen Dahlin and Michael Millenaar.

Many owners remodel the basement to make a home more attractive. But don’t bother unless it can be done for a few hundred dollars, Campbell says. “Most potential buyers or renters don’t care about the basement. It will never be a deal-maker or deal-breaker.”

Other decorating and renovating tips include:

  • On the inside, installing white electrical switches and plug-ins (no unsightly yellow ones), and low-maintenance single-lever taps in the kitchen and bathrooms;
  • On the outside (for maximum curb appeal), installing half-moon doors, new porch lights, and a new mailbox and house numbers.

Why bother fixing up your place when you can probably sell or rent it just the way it is?

“Because the money you invest in these relatively low-cost upgrades will more than pay for themselves in what you can ask from buyers or renters,” Campbell says. “These little touches will set your home far apart from others that haven’t been improved in years.”

 As proof, Campbell offers before-and-after photos, and before-and-after real estate assessments. The photos depict dramatic improvements in various homes’ interiors and exteriors. The assessments show equally dramatic improvements in property values.

A $6,000 redecorating and renovation job on a northwest Edmonton home added $16,500 to its assessment value, and enabled the owner to increase the rent by $2,400 a year. A similar $4,800 investment in another Edmonton home added $$15,500 to its assessment value, and $3,540 to its annual rental income.

“I’m not talking about doing things cheap and gouging your tenants,” Campbell warns. “I’m talking about cost-effectively upgrading your property so you truly add value – value for which your buyers or tenants will gladly pay. It pays for itself very quickly!”

REIN™ Resources
Each monthly workshop offers REIN™ members:
  • global, national, regional, and local economic updates and analysis;
  • strategies to apply economic analysis to specific investment opportunities;
  • practical skills to identify, assess, acquire and manage specific properties;
  • sharing and analysis of real-life case studies and success stories;
  • opportunities to develop joint-ventures with other REIN™ members. 

REIN™ offers members additional resources via a password-protected area on its Web site ( They include the opportunity to:

  • ask free-of-charge questions of respected lawyers, accountants and other financial professionals who are on retainer to REIN™;
  • download any of 60 real estate documents (property analysis forms, sales contracts, rental agreements, etc.) to execute real estate transactions;
  • advertise to recruit joint-venture partners for prospective investments.  

For an interview with REIN™ President Don R. Campbell, call 1-888-824-7346. For more information about REIN™, go to
Don R. Campbell                                                           Jeff Adams
President                                                                      Communications Advisor
Real Estate Investment Network                                   Real Estate Investment Network
1-888-824-7346                                                               1-403-615-8747