Agents always get asked about ways to increase the value of a home. Renovations and improvements are the prime examples. Agents (and let's face it, Canadians) don't like offending people, though, and as such, things people do that reduce the value of their home are never talked about.
Here they are, though... The top three things people do to reduce the value of their homes... Sorry if it offends some, but it's all true.
Furnaces should be cleaned regularly, and so should carpets. It doesn't matter if you have a pet or not, just like your vehicle, the value of your home can be gauged in how well you've maintained it. Have a downspout that drips? Fix it. Fan in the bathroom doesn't work? Replace it. Window doesn't open or seal properly? "I don't use it." isn't an acceptable answer. A well-maintained home is a home that someone has loved. When someone loves something, they take care of it. And if a home has been taken care of, there are less issues with it. Fewer red flags. It screams RELIABLE, not "WHAT ELSE COULD BE WRONG?".
Ever heard of the term "free range livestock"? It's basically cows or chickens that aren't held in a small pen, but rather are allowed to roam around a larger, open area, doing and eating what they want. It's supposed to be less stressful for the animals, and it's a more humane level of treatment, even though we're going to eventually eat them anyways. It's good for animals, but not good for children when it comes to your home. Not to say you should lock up your kids under the basement stairs so they never wreck anything, but kids like boundaries and limits, and these will definitely help when it comes to your homes' value. Bashed up walls, stained carpets and broken blinds (for example) SCREAM that you either don't have time, or don't care to take time to care for your home. It screams WORK for anyone who wants to live there, and it screams IF THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT THESE THINGS WE CAN SEE, WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER "OUT OF SIGHT" STUFF?
Some people say that smoking will reduce the value of a home by 20%. Some say 30%. How about this though... People who don't smoke will never ever EVER look at a house where the seller smokes. And what percentage of people smoke these days? 17%, maybe 20%? So you're essentially losing 80+% of your potential buyers instantly. Even A LOT of smokers won't buy a "smoking house." Aside from the marketshare hit, there is also the price hit. And just to be clear, "I smoke outside" or "I only smoke in the garage" are just as bad, because guess what... You carry that smoke smell into your house with you. You carry it on your clothes, on your skin, in your hair, to wherever you sit, to wherever your laundry hamper is, into the walls, onto the furniture, etc. So there you go. Another reason to quit. :)
So quit smoking (I'm not a doctor), control your kids (I'm not a psychologist), and get your furnace cleaned (I'm not an insurance company). Your home's value will thank you for it.