Renovating to sell: You’re doing it wrong

See how you can get the best return for the money you spend on renovating your property.

When planning an upgrade to your property before selling, there's often that dilemma about what to do and how far to go for the best return on your money. From the results I've seen, making the right changes to refresh your property and make it "pop" in the eyes of your buyers, is the difference between a quick, top dollar sale and a slow and unprofitable one.

Most "experts" would say that kitchens and bathrooms are the areas you should pour your money in to. I disagree: my view is that when you sell, the priority areas in order of importance are generally:

  1. Exterior front
  2. Kitchen
  3. Interior living spaces
  4. Exterior living spaces (depending on location)
  5. Bathrooms and the rest of the house

This is not to say bathrooms (and bedrooms, laundry etc) don't get a look in. They would definitely get some love, but the extent of work done would be less than other experts might typically advise.

I have proven the success of this theory over and over. Think about when you first saw the home you live in now. The first parts of the property you see are the exterior, then the living and kitchen spaces. I believe that these are the areas that provide the first impression and biggest impact.

Following are some ideas on what you might do to create a home that draws the attention of buyers and ultimately sells for well over what you had anticipated.

Think about who your target buyers are. Try to define who these people are and what they want in a house. It could be a secure backyard for young children to play. It might be lots of storage or space for bikes and outside toys for families with teenagers. Does your house tick most of your target markets' boxes? How many more boxes can you help them tick with some simple changes?

Cosmetic improvements are important, but the practicality of how people live is more important to buyers – believe it or not (this, coming from a very passionate interior/exterior designer).

There are the obvious things you can do like applying a lick of paint – whether that means changing the colours entirely or simply refreshing an already acceptable colour.

What I love to do is to create a significant change in the appearance of a house with only minor actual modifications. There are dozens of examples of what you can do. You often don't even need to paint an entire house exterior: I've transformed houses by changing only the trim colours (windows, window sills, guttering, fascias) and a bit of clever landscaping. Homes don't always need a total overhaul to look great, it's just knowing the right "tweaks" that will make the world of difference.

Landscaping is another excellent way to improve your property (and often cheap or free if you know what you're doing). This could be paring back the yard to make it more streamlined and low maintenance, or it could be to add some new plants and even turf to give the house a more finished and established look from the street.

My suggestion is to carefully assess what parts of your property would benefit most from an upgrade – before you start on anything. Ask real estate agents or research what the qualities are of the properties that sell quickest and for the most money in your suburb.


This article was originally published by Domain on 20 July 2016. It represents the views of the author only and does not necessarily reflect the views of AMP.

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© AMP Life Limited. This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, AMP does not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, AMP does not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.