Jumping into the real estate market can be, well, scary! More of us are looking at fixer-uppers in neighbourhoods we like, as opposed to the dream home with a commute.  Most first-time buyers are putting all their available funds into maxing out their down payment to at least get as close as possible to their end goal. Traditional mortgages can be limiting to these buyers and don’t always mean any funds will be free for the renovations.  

This is where Do Your Own Mortgage comes in. DYOM is a mortgage broker, like others, that shop your mortgage around to a selection of traditional and non-traditional lenders to best fit your needs. But here’s where they’re different, they’ve streamlined the process with a dead-simple online application process and team of diversified brokers, which allows you to fill in the initial blanks.  START YOUR APPLICATION>

These efficiencies mean they can divert some of the standard broker fees to, you! You get paid to do your own mortgage. Paid, cash! Or credit card, or cheque, up to you, it’s your money. 
So what does this mean, exactly? On the average $500,000.00 mortgage that means about $3,000.00 goes to you as payment. There is no catch. You’re getting paid a broker fee on your OWN mortgage.

I’m no stranger to stretching a tight renovation budget. I’ve been a designer for 18 years, but I also designed over 100 episodes of HGTV’s Income Property.  From scouting the properties, to the option layouts and every single finish and selection in between, I had to take the teeny-weeny budgets and make them count. 

Here’s the fun part – I’m going to tell you how we can spend that cash to take your so-so house a little closer to the dream home.

How to Spend Your Fee

With $500 – The best bang for the buck is paint! This will cover the supplies and it’s time to call in some family for free sweat equity.  Hiring pro painters will run you 3k minimum on labour so this is one area I suggest rolling up your sleeves and getting a bit speckled.


With $1,000 - You can update all the light fixtures in the home. Not imported Italian chandeliers, but on-point stylish options available at most retailers.  I buy most at Royal Lighting. Light fixtures often date a home, so updating them makes a big difference in its overall look.  It’s also quite easy to install them yourself if you’re keen. With YouTube as a teacher, I’ve installed all my own lights at home!


With $2000 – You can do a cosmetic washroom update. Change the hardware, mirror, lighting, faucet, toilet and vanity. If the tile is neutral enough, updating the fixtures, and adding a fresh white shower curtain can work magic and will carry you through the next few years, conservatively saving for a larger overhaul. Don’t get pulled into the pressures of taking on too much too soon. Baby steps are enough to add equity and make you enjoy the morning shower.

With $3,000  - You could update the kitchen! Change the hardware, update the counters, install a new sink and faucet, and even paint the cabinetry if you were up to the challenge. I promise even the darkest, most outdated cabinets will look like new with a clean white facelift. Consider laminate counters to keep on budget. Did you know on Income Property of the 100 episodes only 5 were stone or solid surface? The investment has to make sense for the home value and spending all your kitchen budget on stone counters simply does not yield the look or build equity the way an overall conservative refresh does.


Other potential spends

  1. Replace doors within the home (price of an average interior door with installation starts at $150)
  2. Replace old windows (price of an average window with installation starts at $500)
  3. Replace outdoor doors (price of an average door with installation starts at $1000)
  4. Replace an old furnace (if you really look, it’s possible to find a furnace for $2,000 to $2,500; it will save you hundreds per month and pay for itself in the end)
  5. With $4,000 - you could update your flooring. You could remove dated carpeting and install hardwood flooring on one floor for this amount (hardwood flooring starts at about $4.50/sq. ft. with labour at about $2/sq. ft.) or you could replace the floors throughout the house if you opted for laminate (both flooring and labour for laminate run at about $2/sq. ft.).
  6. With $5000 -  if you really shop around for the labour, you could update an entire bathroom, including a full cosmetic update, including redoing the tile, installing low flow toilets, faucets and light fixtures. 

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