Have you just missed out on the auction for your dream castle because you could not bid unconditionally? Or have you been feeling frustrated lately because you can’t find an empty room where you can have your own quiet time with three kids screaming in the house? Or is it because your children have left home and you now spend way too much time than you would like cleaning the rooms as they are just collecting dust?
Regardless of your motivations, it’s great that you have made the firm decision to put your house for sale and make a move! Before you sell your house, invite a real estate agent or an interior designer over to chat with you about how certain small changes can add tremendous value to your house. The latter often cost some dime and the former is free so I’m sure you know which one you will pick! Have a look at some tips below on how you can add significant value on a budget before you sell.
Check for visible damage
Structural problems can easily reduce the value of your home. Therefore, walk around your house and check for any obvious and visible damage. This means any loose tiles, broken down pipes or rusted gutters.
Such visible damage will be evident to potential buyers or a building inspector and can have a large negative impact on the amount they’re willing to offer – or put them off completely even when these can be easily replaced or repaired. In the current market, buyers can be picky and giving them less reasons to nitpick on small issues and quibble about the price can be a smart strategy.
It’s all about the confidence – the ability for you and your agent to say that building inspections are very welcome.
De-clutter is the easiest way to add value on a budget
- Firstly, take out everything that you do not absolutely need daily. Now take out some more. That means getting rid of unnecessary furniture, putting away rarely used appliances etc. The more you take out of a room, the bigger it will feel to a prospective buyer – this is called the illusion of space. Even if this means having to store the furniture in storage until the property sells, the investment will be worth it. Pull out those unwanted items to donate to the Dove Shop at St Heliers or sell them on TradeMe and you could actually make a few extra dollars. It also feels cathartic.
- Next keep all your personal photographs and any decorations that might not appeal to everyone. You want to give buyers the opportunity for them to be able to picture themselves in your home. Give them a blank canvas so they can use their imagination! The beautiful paintings can stay but should not be overwhelming.
- Interested buyers often do a drive-by to understand the neighbourhood prior to the open home. If the front of the house looks dreadful, you may not even bother going to the open home and you would have lost the all-important buyer competition.
- Paint your front doorway to greatly improve a buyer’s first impression. If you are daring, opt for a bold colour that fits the exterior colour scheme of your property.
- Painting entire exteriors can be expensive (especially if it’s a two storey house because of the scaffolding). Sometimes all that is required to make a massive difference is a good, thorough house wash. When these are done professionally, they can cost a bit more than you might think but they are worth every penny. Be sure to also wash gutters, paths and driveways too.
- Re-staining decks can also be a fairly simple job that can make a significant difference to the overall look of your home and still not bust the budget.
- Give your walls a fresh coat of paint. Generally, white paint is great as it makes a house look new instantly and it matches most furniture. But the shade of white matters – you do not want people to feel like they are in a hospital. If you are looking to DIY, a paint calculator will help you work out how many litres you will need.
- But consider getting a professional who can do it faster and better. Nothing sticks out more obviously than a bad paint job which then puts a potential buyer on alert for other ‘shambolic’ DIY jobs. Remember, please don’t paint over your windows and french doors so that the joints are painted over and get stuck. The next buyer will come along and complain about it!
- Paint the internal doors white too (if you happen to have those dark brown wooden doors in the 70s) as this will instantly light up the room. Replace the handles while you are at it with modern ones – although beware that some new door handles require a different size for a hole. Get a professional in if you aren’t sure….or you might end up like my husband who accidentally locked himself in the bathroom while changing the handle… You’ll have to fork out more for a locksmith to get you out.
Give your front yard some love
- You want your garden to appear as low maintenance as possible unless the garden carries the main appeal of the home.
- If you present a section that is well maintained it will give buyers confidence that you have taken care of your property and adds to the kerb appeal.
- The simplest thing is to mow your lawn. Consider if there is a need to get in some professional landscapers. Lay a new turf if your lawn is patchy in some areas. Make sure any trees and hedges are not coming into contact with the house itself. Make sure paths are clear from overhanging branches of leaves and above all – trim anything that is blocking the sun.
Give your kitchen a facelift on a budget
- Kitchen is often considered the heart of the home and families often spend a lot of them in there either baking, cooking or having meals. Hence, the look of a kitchen is an important point for most buyers. Kitchen renovations are often the most expensive part of a home’s makeover. However, it is possible to give refresh your kitchen on a small budget.
- The easiest is to change your cupboard handles. They are often a standard size so all you need is a screwdriver and a trip to Bunnings and you will be able to change them at the cost of $5 each.
- You can also easily paint your cupboards for an updated look. Do you know that you can even paint your benchtop if it’s looking a bit dated? At the same time, add a few tiles as a splashback to modernise the kitchen!
- Homes in the Eastern Bay suburbs like Mission Bay, St Heliers and Glendowie attract a specific and generally more affluent group of buyers. The key is not to replace the existing equipment with the cheapest and tackiest item because discerning buyers can spot them immediately. Go for middle to high end stuff but be very careful about over-capitalising.
Spiff up the bathroom
- When it comes to selling your home, the bathroom is almost as important as the kitchen. If a complete bathroom makeover isn’t in your budget, there’s still a lot you can do without spending too much money.
- For example, replacing your old fixtures such as taps and toilet seat covers is a relatively inexpensive way to improve your bathroom’s look and improve its functionality.
- Putting on a fresh coat of paint and hanging new towels are also cheap fixes but the easiest way to perk up your bathroom doesn’t cost a dime. A good scrubbing can make a dingy shower or grubby floor tiles look new. All it requires is a little elbow grease. A mixture of vinegar and baking soda can work wonders! Just remember to clean your mirrors and shower glass while you are at it!
Replacing the light switches and lights
- In general, you should leave electrical work to electricians, but replacing light switches is one job you can legally and quickly do yourself. That keeps the job affordable, with basic switches priced as low as $10 each for a triple switch.
- Upgrading lighting to LED bulbs and downlights (get them for cheap from Aliexpress (buy only from reputable sellers and be aware of possible non-compatibility or non-compliance with New Zealand standards)) can add energy efficiency to the list of features of your home.
Deep clean your house
"Clean as if your mother-in-law is visiting!"
- A well-cared for home will quickly make buyers feel like it is well maintained even if it isn’t new. This means scrubbing your sinks, bathtubs, kitchen benchtops, cabinets, bathrooms, windows and even window sills etc to make sure everything is sparkling.
- Take special note of glass as they easily stain with soap suds.
- Remember to also degrease your oven, rangehood and stove area.
- Determine if your flooring needs special attention or needs to be professionally polished.
- Even if you clean your home regularly, there are areas that you may miss or overlook. Let a reputable cleaning service which specialises in pre-sale cleaning do the dirty work to really make your home sparkle.
Staging without breaking the budget
- Now you can dress for success! Borrow nice furniture from friends and family if you can, invest in new curtains if needed (especially those curtains that reach the floor to give it a bit of luxurious feeling), and buy a new shower curtain if you have one.
- If budget permits, I always recommend investing in the services of a home staging company to present your property at its absolute best. With nicely presented and well-placed furniture, buyers find it easier to picture themselves living in your home. That means they are more likely to develop an emotional connection to your property which will have a positive impact on the price they are prepared to pay.
- Empty houses feel cold and unwelcoming. If staging your home gets you just 1 extra offer/bidder, that added buyer competition should help you recoup your investment and a whole lot more.
Prior to selling, you should always look for advice on how you can add easy value and reduce those possible objections from buyers (psychological or actual) which can decrease the price/demand. It takes an experienced eye and an eye for detail to suggest the additions which can give you the greatest return on your investment. It is not always the case that you need to extensively renovate your bathroom or kitchen prior to selling but generally, renovating these areas, along with cosmetic touch ups, give you the best bang for your buck. If you are thinking of adding a pool or a sun room, be really careful and chat with an agent first.
You can also check out the New Zealand Herald article in which I was interviewed and where I briefly covered the above suggestions.
All the best for your upcoming sale and may you fetch a great price.
Found this post useful and have more questions and need more ideas to add value?
Please get in touch and I am happy to have a chat over coffee! (Contact details below)