For many homeowners and investors, adding value to their properties is something to consider especially if an eventual sale is a possibility.
However, competition is rife in the market, and owners looking to sell should take every step to make sure their properties are in tip-top shape. That said, whether you plan to sell tomorrow or live in your home for decades to come, it is important to keep your property's market value high. Even neglecting basic tasks like mowing your lawn can contribute to the devaluation of your property.
But while you may think renovations are just about rearranging furniture, redecorating rooms, eliminating unwanted walls, slapping on some new paint, and calling it a day, a successful job will take a lot of research and patience.
How to boost your home’s value
If you are serious about increasing the value of your home, you will have to be willing to invest in some major changes in several parts of your home.
Often referred to as 'the heart of a home', the kitchen is one of the big ticket rooms well worth investing in because it pays off.
Kitchens do not usually require a full remodel to freshen up – a fresh coat of paint, new cupboards and countertops, new tap fittings, upgraded stove, and other electrics will usually do the trick.
Another way to make your kitchen appealing to buyers is to have an open plan for the room. An L-shaped kitchen, for instance, frees up a large space. Nowadays people tend to gravitate toward kitchens with open-plan spaces, where they can cook, dine, and entertain guests all in one large area.
Buyers are also particular regarding the materials used for the countertops, kitchen cabinets, and cupboards. This does not mean that you have to splurge on luxury materials, however. Go for practicality and choose materials that are both durable and pleasing to the eye.
Minimalist kitchen designs are also trendy nowadays. Monochromatic colours, uniform lines, and fewer design elements make the kitchen look modern, sleek, and stylish. Do not forget to give your appliances an upgrade. Invest in energy-efficient appliances to attract environmentally conscious buyers.
However, as kitchens have a lot of components, it is easy for owners to overspend. Remember: keep your eye on the prize when it comes to renovations, or you might find yourself reaping only half of what you sow.
On another note, a butler's pantry is slowly on the rise again in modern kitchens to serve as a place to store cooking utensils out of plain sight to achieve that classic, minimalist look.
Another room that will definitely win the hearts of buyers, bathrooms are definitely worthy of some upgrades when you want to sell your house.
The main goal for the bathroom is to make it look neat, fresh, bright, and clean. To give the room a little bit of life and colour, add some wall decor or an indoor plant.
Modern bathrooms with the illusion of space are also favoured by potential buyers. Aside from applying a fresh coat of paint to the room, installing large mirrors will instantly give the room a whole new look.
If you have extra space, consider dual vanities — this will give the bathroom an extra luxurious feel.
Flooring is the one interior element of your house constantly subjected to wear and tear. So, in addition to making sure the flooring is appropriate for the design of the house, it is also important to choose the right materials.
A new set of floors can make your house look clean, modern and luxurious – while outdated flooring can weaken the home's overall impact.
There are several do-it-yourself ways how you can improve your flooring. For instance, if you have a bare concrete floor, you can achieve a tile look by staining. You can also try applying faux bois, or "false wood", paint style.
Got some extra cash to spend? Think about giving your flooring a major overhaul by installing new wood or tiles. You can also have the floor carpeted. This route is expensive, so it is recommended to only do this if the flooring needs serious fixing.
Carpets were once a fixture in everybody's homes, but not only does it have the tendency to soak up odours and retain them, but cleaning them can be burdensome for some, especially if you own pets.
That said, it is still a great option for bedrooms, due to the warmth and comfort it provides. If you're dead set against carpeting, rugs can give a similar effect.
The classic phrase ‘you only get one chance to make a first impression’ could not be more spot on when it comes to your house. Whether for an appraiser, prospective buyer, or even just a friend visiting, that first impression is key and it comes from the exterior of your house.
Curb appeal, also known as street appeal, is an essential renovation element that should not be ignored when assessing a property for improvements.
Go across the street and look back at your house to assess its curb appeal, not only as a standalone but also in comparison to other houses on the street and in the neighbourhood — how does it measure up? Make a list of any improvements you could make or issues you need to fix. Some common ones are missing roof tiles, broken downspouts and cleaning out roof gutters.
Throw some fresh paint into the mix, new trim, and fencing (if applicable), as well as a new house number and a letterbox to complete the look.
For maximum curb appeal, pay special attention to the front door. It is the entrance to your home and reflects a certain standard, so a feature gloss or colour to contrast with the rest of the house and some updated fixtures can go a long way. The same can be said for the garage door, especially if it is front facing. Some other final touches to consider could be a new house number or mailbox plaque to finish off the job.
An outdoor space like a patio or an alfresco-ready area can give prospective homeowners visions of lounging about or entertaining outside of the home, so if you have neglected your backyard, it may be well worth cleaning it up and adding a dapper touch to it if possible.
You can also consider adding an all-weather area as an extension to the home. Any external touches like these provide a strong impetus for buyers to grab ahold of the property, which should assuage worries about whether the property will successfully sell.
Related to the backyard, adding some green to your property can instantly add colour and life. The best part? You can do it without exerting much effort or money. So, if you have not started already, it might be a good time to start a garden project.
Visit the nearest nursery or plant store in your neighbourhood and start adding plants, shrubs, and trees to your place.
Just be wary of being too elaborate, as complex gardens can be hard to manage for those who do not possess the green thumb, which may include potential buyers.
Tech features and energy efficiency
Riding on the wave of modern technology, some dwellings have features and amenities that used to be straight out of science fiction. While these can be intimidating to some, they can definitely bump up a property's value.
If you can afford it and it is within your budget, you can equip your home with high-tech devices like music systems streamed through ceiling speakers, smartphone-controlled equipment and a remote-controlled garage.
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Easy hacks to increase the value of your home
Not everything, however, must be as complicated as overhauling parts of your home. Here is a range of quick and easy solutions that won’t cost a fortune, and won’t have you falling into a long-term renovation project. Any of these tips can increase the value of your home and you can get started straight away.
Commence a full deep clean
It may seem like the ultimate simple step but doing a thorough clean of your entire house can do wonders for its value.
You may already have a pretty spotless home, but family homes have a tendency to get messy in the blink of an eye and dirt can get ingrained in all the nooks and crannies that you may not even be aware of — the bathroom and kitchen are often the biggest victims.
A benefit of investing your time to perform the cleaning yourself has the added bonus that as you go through the house, you can also do an audit and make a list of all the other little things that may need repair or refreshment — things that will be much easier to do when the space has been cleaned.
If you are short on time, it is also relatively inexpensive to hire a local professional cleaner, who can go through thoroughly and transform your house in a matter of hours. After the big job is done, you can commit to a regular cleaning and tidying routine to preserve this improvement.
Minimising the clutter in your home is a sure way to maximise your visual space and appeal.
Clutter can so easily get out of hand, especially in a home with pets or children, but taking the time to tidy and de-clutter your house makes it appear larger, cleaner and more open, which makes it more attractive to potential buyers and thus increases its value.
From a resale perspective, potential buyers can imagine their own belongings, families, and themselves inside it. Decluttering will cost you nothing, keep the house easier to clean (a bonus for both living and selling purposes) and aims to visually increase the space of the house.
Fresh coat of paint
Whether you choose to save some money and do a DIY project or whether you hire a professional, repainting is a low-cost, time-effective way to completely refresh the interior of a room, or of the whole house. Even hiring a professional can only cost a few hundred dollars per room — if you narrow down the one or two rooms that need the most work, repainting will still bump the value of the entire house.
Look for rooms that may have particularly bright walls or bad previous paint jobs, as these make the most effective targets. Rooms like the kitchen and bathroom can always benefit from a new coat of paint as well, and if you’re lucky the other rooms may only require a quick touch-up.
Choosing colours is something to be wary of, and colour swatches can often look very different when painted over an entire room. To maximise future resale potential, stick to a neutral colour palette of whites, greys and beiges and try not to tip too dark on the scale, as the lighter colours reflect more light and help to create space.
If you decide to undergo the paint job yourself, make sure that the new paint does a good job of covering up any old paint. You can also try painting the ceiling a shade lighter than the walls for a brighter feel. While you are at it, you can also refresh any old furniture with a new coat of paint as well to complete the look.
Improve the home’s lighting
You want to show off your home in the best light, so eliminating dull or harsh lighting is crucial in upping property value.
Lighting should vary from room to room, as there are different needs and expectations. For most rooms in the house, from dining and lounge rooms to bedrooms, adding a dimmer for control over the lighting is a great way to adjust ambience and visibility and is also energy efficient.
Lighting in the bathroom, however, should be kept warm and bright with plenty of visibility. Instead of overhead lighting which can be quite harsh, try lighting around the vanity mirror on the wall to prevent any heavy shadowing.
It is also particularly important in the kitchen, for both visual and safety purposes. Instead of overhead lighting, consider a tracking option that will allow you to designate light to different areas of the kitchen as necessary. LED under-cabinet and under-table lights are also great for brightening up from different directions and eliminating dark corners.
You should also never underestimate the use of natural light — maximise the natural light flow through your house with clear windows, drawn-back curtains/blinds, and mirrors in rooms to reflect the natural light and give the appearance of more windows.
Know your budget and time limits
When renovating your home, you do not necessarily have to go all out in your spending.
Remember, the goal is to get a strong investment return after selling the property. This will require you to be careful in making alterations that will not necessarily add to the property's value. One classic example is building a pool. If you think the price of your property will shoot up after putting up this water feature, then you are wrong.
Other upgrades that will only give you minimal return against thousands of dollars you have spent are complex gardens, hidden renovations such as insulation, double glazing, and air conditioning systems.
As a general rule, steer clear of plumbing or electrical work unless you have specific skills or knowledge in these fields. An amateur is more likely to cause further damage to these internal systems that will then require a significantly greater cost to repair, not to mention bring down the value of the house.
If you really want to have the plumbing and electrical system checked, it might be worth calling in professionals to assess the internals and fix any small issues such as loose wires or water leaks. For projects that you do decide to DIY, make sure you have access to the right tools and products to get the job done properly.
Article originally published 21 Feb 2018, last updated 25 July 2022.