In our work with buyers, we see a lot of homes.  While some are wonderful places that anyone would be pleased to live in, others make you scratch your head and ask, “What on earth were they thinking?”

We’ve come up with a term for a particular version of such a home, which we call a Checklist Property.  That sounds pretty complimentary, but it’s actually the opposite.

A Checklist Property is a home that ticks all the boxes on paper but is somehow not a desirable home despite its attributes.  It is where the builder or renovator clearly had a list of things that a buyer would find appealing and by George, they did whatever it took to check off everything on that list.

The end result is often a home that can look good on paper, with the right angle for the photos and the careful language on the listing description.  It all falls apart when you visit the home in person, however, and you realize that there is a world of difference between having an attribute and it being a good version of that attribute.

Here are some examples of what happens when a box is ticked but the purpose isn’t accomplished.

Walk-In Closet

One of the hallmarks of modern homes is the walk-in closet.  It used to be a feature that was only present in very high end homes but over the past little while it has become much more standard.  While the term “walk-in” implies a spacious closet for all your clothes, the reality can be a closet that is barely larger than the kind you’d find in older homes.

A Checklist Property has a small closet that you might initially overlook and when you open the door, it may be lacking shelving or much beyond a single bar for a row of hangers.  It may also be poorly organized and laid out and you’d have to inch in sideways in order to reach some of the clothes. It is technically a walk-in closet, in that you can walk into it, but by that logic you could put a ladder beside your house and claim you have a rooftop deck.

Master Ensuite

While it used to be common for a home to have one family bathroom, with perhaps a powder room if you were lucky, the trend in recent years is for the number of bathrooms to meet or even exceed the number of bedrooms in a home.  The epitome of that trend is the master ensuite bathroom, where you have a glamourous spa style bathroom off of your master bedroom.

A Checklist Property has a bathroom off the master bedroom, but it is far from luxurious.  In some cases, it is simply a toilet and sink rather than a full washroom with a tub or shower.  It may be conveniently located, but it isn’t a place to relax with a fluffy towel, a glass of wine and some bubbles.  Unless you wanted to sit on the toilet with your wine.  The below example also has a bonus Checklist Walk-In Closet.


Many condo dwellers love having a balcony directly off their suite.  When you live a number of flights up in a building, being able to step outside and enjoy some fresh air without taking an elevator ride and walking through common areas is quite nice.

A Checklist Property has a balcony that technically fulfills that purpose but is not actually suitable for anything.  This often means a balcony that is either too small or has awkward dimensions.  You could stand out there if you like, but if you want to have a seat, it better be a fold up chair.  Would you like to have a friend join you on the balcony for a glass of wine or a meal?  Here’s hoping they are willing to climb over the table in order to get to their seat.

Additional Bedroom

Whether it is a third, fourth or fifth bedroom, some builders or renovators tick the additional bedroom box by shoehorning a room into a space where it doesn’t actually work.  It is a frustrating approach as the number of bedrooms is a criteria grounding in practicality for buyers.  When someone needs three bedrooms, it is because they need three rooms for people to sleep in, not simply some additional space they could use for some other purpose.

A Checklist Property has one or more bedrooms that are not actually suitable to being used as a bedroom.  It could be a room where there are no 90 degree angles, or it could have no way to put a bed in it without the door not being able to open fully, or it could just be so small it would literally be a room that can only contain the bed.  Such “bedrooms” are often used as a home office.

Finished Basement

Additional living space below grade is a great bonus given the cost of land in the GTA.  Depending on the age of the home, finishing the basement can require digging out to increase ceiling height, running electrical and plumbing and more.  It may be wonderful to have additional living space in the basement, but sometimes the floorplan of the basement or the decisions on how to finish it can be perplexing.  The mechanicals that are often present in the basement such as the furnace or hot water tank can mean rooms need to be designed around them, and support beams or ductwork may also dictate the layout.

A Checklist Property has a finished basement but the choices they made in layout or the finishes make you wish it was in fact unfinished so you could just do it properly.  Perhaps someone might like having the hot water tank presented as a feature and every possible surface covered in flooring, including the ceiling.  Is it finished?  It is absolutely, authoritatively finished.

Freshly Painted

Finally, one easy box to tick for renovators is to have the home freshly painted.  Over time every home gets a bit grubby from wear and tear.  While cleaning helps, sometimes a coat of paint is the only way to freshen up the home.

A Checklist Property has been freshly painted but either the painting was done so poorly, or it was painted in such a questionable colour that it doesn’t actually improve the appearance of the home.  Instead of looking clean and fresh and inviting, it ends up looking as if everyone who is standing in the room has a sunburn because of the overwhelming amount of pink reflecting off the walls.  On a plus side, it doesn’t clash with the carpet.

If you’re considering making some renovations to your home in order to sell it, we’d love to help advise you on what features buyers are looking for these days, and how to make it a useful enhancement to the home and not just a checkbox being ticked.  If that sounds appealing, get in touch!