Spend time and money where it counts on DIY projects to increase profit
Renovate to increase the value of your home
When you’re renovating to sell, it’s difficult to know where to spend time and money. Get it right and you could increase profit. Get it wrong and you’ll be throwing money down the drain.
‘Spending a little in the right place can make a big impact when the time comes to sell,’ says Angus Kell, of Archicentre, NSW and ACT. Giving an unrenovated home a facelift on a shoestring budget can add thousands to the sale price.’
We know the theory, but how do you know which things are worth investing time and money into and which ones aren’t? Here are a few tips to help maximise profit while minimising expenditure.
Where to spend
Go Green and cash in on the latest change in buying behaviour. Buyers can’t get enough of solar hot water, rainwater tanks and drip-feed irrigation systems.
Clean up and air out the whole house. It must be spotless, so polish all the windows until they sparkle, remove any cobwebs and marks on ceilings, and go to work on any mould or mildew. Don’t just clean inside – think about kerb appeal.
Patch any cracks or gaps in walls, sand and fill with a flexible sealant. Be sure to choose a sealant that can be painted over.
Repaint walls, but don’t go crazy with colour. Choose neutral shades. If you don’t feel confident choosing colours, go for white to allow potential buyers to visualise their own colour themes, paintings and furnishings in the space.
Polish floorboards for a smarter look than worn carpet. Lift a corner of the carpet and check what’s underneath. If it looks good, pull up the carpet. Sand and polish boards using an odour-free, oil-based stain. If there are no boards, or they’re in poor condition, invest in professional carpet cleaning instead.
Throw out any clutter. Remove knick-knacks, souvenirs, children’s artwork, sporting equipment, toys, scatter rugs, pet food bowls, magazine baskets and scratching posts. A sparsely furnished layout implies elegant living and rooms appear larger with less furniture.
Decorate the interior with plants, vases or single feature sculptures. Don’t use air fresheners or burn essential oils, as some people are allergic to them. Most potential buyers are wise to the baking bread and brewing coffee tricks, but these smells still give a homely feel.
Step out of the house and consider adding a feature like a pergola. These look great, particularly when covered in plants, they define outdoor living spaces and give a simple but effective link between indoor and outdoor spaces.
Fence the property, making sure it fits in with the style of the home. Picket fences enhance a period-style home, but are less appropriate for a modern house. Repair broken palings.
Show how a north-facing garden can flourish on a sunny day. Set up some well-oiled outdoor furniture, barbeque and a sunlounge. The benefits will be obvious and the space will sell itself.
Attend to the garden. Strategically-placed pots of colourful plants give a splash of colour to the garden or highlight a deck area. Repair any cracked or broken paving and remove all the weeds.
Dirty jobs such as cleaning guttering, replacing worn sections of downpipes or guttering, unblocking drains and removing cobwebs make a huge difference to the overall look.
Replace any blown lightbulbs inside and out. Consider installing security sensors that turn on exterior lights with a person’s
Where not to spend
Expensive fittings such as gold taps or exotic chandeliers cost a great deal but don’t add value to the house. Style and taste varies, and you may put buyers off. Aim to keep the decoration neutral.
Extensions that don’t match the older part of the house appear disjointed. If you plan to extend the house, an architect can help achieve a seamless look.
Replacing kitchens and bathrooms tends to be money down the plughole. One of the first things a new homeowner does is change or rip out the existing kitchen and bathroom and put in new ones. Instead, put effort into making the kitchen and bathroom clean, well-ventilated, watertight and functional.
Vivid colours doesn’t help the selling process. Colour not only has a huge impact on the feel of a house, but people have very emotional responses to it.
A bright lilac colour scheme may be your cup of tea, but could send potential purchasers running for the hills. Major landscaping can be a huge investment in time and money.
3 Rules of renovating for sale
Make a difference
Spend time and money on the things that make a difference to the resale value.
Consider potential buyers
Prospective buyers look at the basic structure of the house – not your personal style.
Appeal to a broad market
Great interior design won’t sell it if the house is falling apart. Make the house clean, sound and neutral to appeal to the widest range of potential buyers.
What not to do
Real estate agents are used to seeing people trying, well, anything to get a higher price. Some of these quick fixes weren’t such a good idea.
Carol Leddon from Sarah Lorden Real Estate in Balmain, NSW, remembers, ‘A man removed all the original features of his house and tiled the whole house in heavy-patterned tiles which screamed like a swirly carpet.
'It cost him $30,000 and took $60,000 off the value of the house.’
Alexandra Rutherford from LJ Hooker Brisbane Central says, ‘One couple repainted their entire house in technicolour with a different colour on every wall, setting them back $23,000.
'As soon as the new owners moved in, they had to repaint the entire place.’ She adds, ‘One couple spent $35,000 on furniture when trying to sell their apartment.’
George from Ray White Ashburton, VIC, warns vendors against taking the ‘homely feel’ too far.
‘During one inspection, the home owners were taking a shower and sleeping in the beds. ’
One Perth agent inspected a house where the owners had strategically placed items around the home to cover up stains, including a big ugly fruit bowl over a burn on the kitchen bench, a slab of marble over broken kitchen tiles, and a rug to cover where the dog did his business.’