Home improvements

How to fix up your property's sale price.

Every successful property sale requires a professional marketing campaign, but before you start focusing on the details of your home’s interior styling, it is essential to concentrate on its general maintenance.

While fresh flowers and tastefully arranged cushions are attractive, ultimately, potential buyers will look past accessories and focus on your home’s condition when assessing its value.

A well-maintained home will always sell more quickly and for a better price than one with problems. That is why, before you put up a For Sale sign, you must get on top of your home maintenance.

Set a Budget

How much to spend on any work is your first consideration. It’s easy to spend too much on changes that won’t greatly increase your property’s value. When it comes to spending large sums, it’s only necessary if you have major problems that could significantly affect the price of your home.

If your roof is leaking and causing damage to the interior, you’ll need to have it fixed. Whatever the cost, it will be less than any amount a prospective buyer will expect knocked off the sale price. Replacing perfectly adequate kitchens and bathrooms may not be worth the investment. Instead, consider a cheaper spruce-up.

Your first step should be to inspect comparable homes selling in your neighbourhood. Look at their price guides, and be honest in the appraisal of your own home’s value. Fortunately, when the time comes to sell there are many ways to increase the value of your home, and most are easy and affordable.

Think Outside

First impressions start with street appeal. The exterior, front garden and driveway of your home are the first things people see, so get your landscaping in order.

Start with your mailbox and street numbers – if they are old and dilapidated, replace them. Then work your way up your driveway to your front door and entranceway. Ensure your gardens appear neat and low-maintenance; get rid of any unhealthy plants, add a layer of wood chips to garden beds and new pebbles to paths. If you’ve any large trees, get them cut back to maximise the natural light in your home, and make sure your guttering is up to its job.

Repainting the exterior of your home is expensive, especially if it requires scaffolding. Consider avoiding this option unless your paintwork is particularly grim. Usually a clean is all that’s required, so if your exteriors, fences and decks are dirty, hire a high-powered water blaster and get busy.

Indoor-outdoor flow is an essential part of the New Zealand lifestyle, so spend extra time and effort on your outdoor living area. Replace loose or rotten decking, and give it a fresh stain. Fixing and repainting old fencing is essential, too, if you want to maximise your garden’s impact.

Heart of the Home

Kitchens sell homes – it’s an overused mantra that remains true. Every prospective buyer wants a spacious, modern kitchen at the hub of their home. If yours is dated, but the cabinetry is solid, you don’t have to go to the expense of a whole new kitchen. Replacing your worktop and cupboard doors is a cheap way to give your kitchen a makeover. Add new tapware and some fresh tiles or splashback, and a couple of thousand dollars well spent can make a major difference.

Overall, cleanliness is king – if your rangehood is black and grease-stained, or your dishwasher is on its last legs, replace them. Same with your shelving and kickboards – if they are soiled or water damaged, get them fixed.

Just remember that kitchens that look a million bucks don’t have to cost a million bucks. If you do go for a full renovation, pre-made modular systems, as sold by the big DIY warehouses, look fantastic and are great value for money.

Bathroom Splashes

Bathrooms, like kitchens, are subjected to heavy use, are prone to water damage, and need to tick boxes for prospective buyers. Again, the key is freshness: old chipped and unfashionable tiles are easy to replace, a fresh lick of paint is quick to apply, and if your old vanity is dated, a few hundred dollars will get you a new one.

From floors to ceilings there must be no signs of damp, mould or limescale. If you can’t bear the thought of hours of scrubbing, have your shower professionally cleaned and your grouting and any mouldy sealant replaced.

Bathroom makeovers need only become expensive if you pay for plumbing to be moved. If you have a 1970s avocado bathroom suite, it’s an inexpensive job to have it replaced by something basic and modern. New soft-close toilet seats, tapware, shower curtains, towel rails and other accessories are even cheaper, and are an easy way to add value.

Living Areas

Warmth, ventilation and natural light – these are hot topics in today’s housing market and buyers will expect your home to be adequately insulated and easy to heat. Heat pumps start at around $2,000, installed, and are ideal for living areas. In bedrooms, panel heaters look the part and are an effective way to warm small areas.

Inspect your curtains for signs of mould, because prospective buyers will, and either replace them or have them cleaned. If your flooring is old and shabby, it will seriously detract from your home’s value, so it’s worth having it replaced. In living areas, you could opt for cheaper laminate, rather than expensive timber, to keep the cost down, and reserve cosy carpet for bedroom areas.

If you haven’t redecorated in years, or are still regretting a vivid choice of colour, repainting your living area is a very cheap way to boost its appeal. Stick to a neutral, bright palette to boost the room’s natural light. Replacing old lighting is another affordable way to give your room a fresh look. LED lights not only look far better than old incandescent bulbs, they’re energy efficient too.

Results Matter

If you’ve lived in your home for a number of years, you’ll have already adapted it to match your lifestyle. But as any homeowner knows, there’s always room for improvement and a list of small repairs that need fixing.

Before you sell, tick off all the to-do items on your list, as each is a negotiation point that buyers can leverage to reduce their offer. Spend your budget wisely, with economy in mind, to ensure you achieve the best return on your investment.

As a general rule of thumb, every dollar you spend fixing up your home prior to sale will add more than a dollar to its value – so whatever your home and budget, it will be money well spent in maintaining your home’s structural integrity, appeal and, ultimately, its sale price.


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