The Rules of Reno
To reno’, or not to reno, that is the question. And it’s a conundrum that burns at the heart of home sellers and property renovators the world over. Exorcising optimum return for each dollar spent, however, isn’t an exacting science, rather one that varies from project to project. This in mind, we’ve composed a hit list of pointers to help unlock the financial potential that lies within your home. It’s your biggest asset, after all, so read it and reap…
The Ten Commandments
It doesn’t matter what time of year - or, for that matter, the state of the economy - there’s always someone looking to buy a new home. That said, with the current climate favouring the buyer, it’s more important than ever to ensure your property is ‘market ready’, and that you’re tooled up as a confidant and successful salesperson.
1 - Know Your Market
The trick with property is to produce appropriate ‘product’. Quiz your local realtor about what sells best and act on their advice. Could it be, perhaps, that your three-bed house lies in an area where young professionals (without families) are buying? And that your third bedroom might be more ‘valuable’ if dressed as an office? Conversely, if your home is in a typical family catchment area, then bedroom tally is probably a critical aspect. So do your research and ‘show’ accordingly.
2 - Watch your spend
Check out similar listings in your ‘hood and take note of room ‘quality’. This will stop you splashing out on an expensive designer bathroom if the profit margin doesn’t allow for it. Everything, of course, is relative which means that a $30K bathroom reno’ may be inappropriate in a $200k condo. It may be that more modest renovations (that keep you safely within neighbourhood averages) will yield significantly higher, dollar for dollar, than mega-transformations.
3 - Spend Wisely
Kitchens are an astute area in which to spend budget but, as with all home improvements, the trick is to balance outlay with visual and ergonomic return. It’s probably better to forgo that five thousand dollar hob and opt, instead, for new cabinetry, great door handles and a killer sink. Similarly, don’t splash out on genuine limestone if tradition shows that even the most expensive refurbishments reap only a few thousand dollars. Most DIY stores carry good quality ceramic ‘look alike’ tile so consider this route as a more cost effective alternative.
4 - Reach for the paintbrush
One of the least expensive ways to augment value is via a fresh coat of paint so add some elbow grease and prepare your project properly: remove flaky surfaces and other negative elements before transformations begin. Potential buyers prefer light, neutral tones but don’t be afraid to add colour through artwork or soft furnishings - doing this will banish the bland and make your home grand.
5 - Go With the Flow
Endeavour to create visual continuity from room to room. Does your kitchen style relate to that of your connecting dining room? Do your hallway schematics compliment your lounge? If considering a major re jig, consult with your contractor to ensure potential alterations blend seamlessly with the rest of your home, adding, as they do, to accommodation and overall beauty. And remember: poorly matched additions can DECREASE market value, so please - no UPVC conservatories plonked onto Georgian town homes.
6 - Create Curb Appeal
Give your home pavement presence by ensuring its exterior - your home's first impression - is in tip top condition. Check and repair windows, doors and brickwork and make sure your front garden is clean and tidy. Oxford blue, deep green, white and black are all perfect front door colours, and don’t forget to ensure your door number is visible to passing trade. The last thing you want is a perplexed buyer disappearing off without even viewing because your home was hard to locate.
7 - Balance Mass Appeal with Style
Don’t be too individual if optimum marketability is your goal, but on the other hand don’t be too pedestrian. Good taste is worth more than no taste so avoid overt customisation to ensure potential buyers can picture your home suiting their needs. Sadly, this means your faithful recreation of The Palace of Versailles in Artex, which currently dominates your front room, is valueless. Yup, one man’s meat is another mans poison. Home selling FACT.
8 - Fresh is Best
If you’d prefer to avoid lavish outlays (but still want to turn a profit) then the best you can do is clean, stand back… and then clean everything again. Spruced homes are interpreted as loved homes and potential buyers will shell out more for these. Eradicate all unpleasant smells such as pets, toilets and ashtrays, and replace them with fresh aromas.
9 - DFY versus DIY
If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly so be realistic in terms of what you can achieve and remember that botched DIY jobs can actually devalue. Buyers, evermore, are clued up on standards so for jobs out of your skill range, opt for the DFY (Done For You) approach and call in the pro’s. OK, you’ll pay more, but your investment will pay dividends…
10 - Spread your Spend
Don't neglect the rest of the house just because you’ve spent up in the kitchen. Ok, so you may have made it beautiful but your labours will be compromised if other rooms have cracked plaster and dreadful 1970s shag carpeting. Make sure your entire home is updated to as good a level as possible by spreading your renovation budget accordingly. Wooden floors, for example, generally bring back their costs, as do quality carpet and tile.
A dozen top tips, in a nutshell, to add value
Extensions - these, traditionally, add value but must be completed to an exacting standard. Extra rooms tempt better sale prices and attic or basement conversions, because they don
’t eat into garden space, remain popular for families with young children.
Parking – Some buyers simply won’t view if parking is a problem. This in mind, squeezing a car space from your garden will impact positively on value or, at the very least, make your home more sellable. Apply to the local council to ‘drop’ the pavement outside your home so a car can be driven onto previously decorative ground. We’ve facilitated this on several occasions and it always reaps rewards.
Better kitchens equals better sales price. This is true in most cases but if it so happens your buyer hates glossy red cabinetry, then your advantage can become their disadvantage. A ‘difficult’ kitchen (in terms of style or condition) represents a two fold financial issue to buyers – removal and replacement.
Bathrooms – these should be as neutral as possible. It might also be worth adding an extra downstairs powder room if space allows; assets such as these, in our experience, recoup all their associated costs.
Gardens, patios and decks - max these up to max up price. Buyers, more than ever, crave these spaces. Even if you’ve only a tiny wee terrace it’s time to dress to impress.
Clear the clutter - square footage, come sales time, means more dosh in the bank, so endeavour to create flexible, roomy environments. The same applies to storage – if it seems you’re busting out then the impression will be that you’ve outgrown your space or that storage is simply inadequate.
Conservatories – garden rooms return up to 20% more than their costs. And if it’s a particularly good structure that enhances the appearance of your house, then returns could be even higher.
Lighten up - harnessing natural light and employing clever artificial illumination are both sure fire winners. It’s even worth tailoring viewing times so buyers see your home at its optimum.
Set the scene - lifestyle additions, while less tangible than other aspects, can make all the difference to profits. A cool flat screen TV or a hot new laptop are subliminal signals of success and will help intoxicate buyers. People like to ‘buy into’ success so these ‘lifestyle visuals’ are invaluable. What’s more you, as the seller, take this kit with you when you leave. It’s even worth borrowing from friends to help ‘stage’ your home. And don’t forget that the right music, clever dressing and even the clothes you wear can all help tempt that sale. Few will be impressed if you answer the door in a dirty track suit with food debris down the front. People buy people so ALWAYS look your best. We’re not suggesting top hat and tails or a ball gown when buyers are due – just a little sensible sartorial thinking.
Central Heating and air con’ – having to install these is perceived as a major disadvantage so if you can meet the costs, then get busy. Better still, do this long before putting up sale signs so you also enjoy the benefits.
Front doors – kerb appeal/first impressions are paramount. If your house looks good from the street, buyers make quality assumptions about the interior before so much as stepping over the threshold. A well tended approach, after all, signifies a house that’s cared for.
Bear in mind that not everything you like will be perceived as a useful USP. A swimming pool, for example, that consumes your entire yard, will be off putting to buyers who want to indulge their love of horticulture but nevertheless tempting to those who’d rather exercise at home than join a gym.