As the whole of New Zealand goes into lock down (due to Alert Level 4) and everyone is forced to self quarantine, what can a homeowner do during these 4 weeks to improve and add value to their property?
With extra time on your hand, this is the perfect opportunity to do the things you have always wanted to do around your house but never got round to it due to your busy lifestyle. Now there’s no excuse!
So take advantage of this period to make your home the best version of itself and you’ll be post-COVID-19 market-ready once the restrictions are lifted! Some of these tips are forward-looking and about planning ahead so that you can take immediate action once we are out of these trying times!
De-clutter, De-clutter, De-clutter
- 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 keep the furniture somewhere on-site until the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, the investment will be worth it. Pull out those unwanted items to donate (after the restrictions are lifted) 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. If they are divisive (for e.g. when your house guests argue over them), then they are probably suitable for storage.
Paint - and think about paint colour
- 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.
- Research on Pinterest or use a paint colour visualiser to see how your home will look like in a different colour.
- 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. Give them a good spray.
- Re-staining decks can also be a fairly simple job that can make a significant difference to the overall look of your home. Or painting the fences along your house.
- 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 working with a professional who can do it faster and better – get in touch with painters now and virtually show them your property so that they can book you in and give you an estimate virtually. 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
- It’s often the first three seconds that most buyers make their decision to buy a house or not.
- 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. 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.
- Get weeding and clean the tiles.
- Waterblast and clean your driveway / fences.
- Tidy and paint your mailbox or gates.
Redecorate your home
- Now that all non-essential services are closed, you can’t really go and renovate your home. However, you can definitely redecorate it.
- Consider moving your furniture around to maximise space. Sometimes a bed facing a different direction makes a world of difference to how it looks. Or consider moving your sofa configuration.
- Feel free to experiment. If it doesn’t suit, change it back. Video call your friends to ask for their opinions. Or you could video call us and we are happy to give our suggestions too, and tell you what you should do.
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. You might only be able to receive these after the lockdown is over but it’s good to start counting how many light bulbs you have, and researching the different light fittings.
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.
Research how to sell your house now - especially if you may struggle financially in this crisis
- Start researching how you’ll sell your home now. Read our many free articles on how you can maximise your home value or sell your home for more.
- Examine your household finances carefully and see what you may need to reduce in terms of discretionary spending if you expect a fall in income or even loss of employment.
- Start having a chat with your brokers and banks if you may default on your mortgage payments in the future – check out this useful article by our friends at Twine Advisers on mortgage holidays.
- Let’s not beat around the bush – the government fully expects unemployment numbers to rise. If you are at risk of defaulting on mortgage payments due to reduced income or loss of your jobs, then consider putting your property up for sale early before the inevitable glut of properties hit the market and you are forced to compete for a limited, reduced number of buyers or, in the worst case scenario, forced into a mortgagee sale when the outcome can be financially and emotionally crippling.
- Having sold 7 so far in 2020 and have 8 properties being marketed at the time of writing, we have many active buyers from our very successful campaigns (some of whom have sold and absolutely need to buy) so come and talk to us. Our super-affordable, ultra-low marketing packages (in some cases even free) will guarantee the largest possible exposure at the lowest possible cost – why spend unneccessary money in a time when you can ill-afford to?
- Grill agents on how they intend to market your home in this environment. As you can imagine, digital marketing becomes critically important going forward (Property Press has suspended publication during this period and moving online which should tell you what this means exactly for those agents who have been pushing for print media). You absolutely want a team of agents who are digitally proficient and have been doing this for far longer than just the lockdown period. For us, it has been business as usual.
Now the above jobs should keep you busy during this 4 week period. At least you have put your time to good use and added value to your property during this Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, and get your property READY TO GO once the everything is back to normal.
What you’d have got is an invaluable headstart, compared to other vendors who would be struggling and competing with others to book tradespersons etc and getting their house ready.
Stay safe. And we hope to hear from you – we are always available for a video chat and do digital appraisals.
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)