If Australia’s recent obsession with renovation and DIY TV shows is anything to go by, we are a nation of renovators. While the majority homeowners undertake home improvements for their own enjoyment, there is always the underlying motivation of adding value to their home when it comes to selling.
Making regular improvements to your home and maintaining it in good condition is the best way to add value over the long term. But some renovations can simply be a waste of money come sale time, according to the experts.
The kitchen & bathroom conundrum
Traditionally, a renovated bathroom and kitchen would go a long way in adding value to a property. Not anymore, real estate agent Georgia Cleary, director of Bradfield Cleary in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, said.
“People are so specific about their tastes and requirements that you are better off leaving major kitchen or bathroom renovations,” Cleary said. “For example, some people prefer to just have a shower in the bathroom, while others insist on a bath.”
The burden of a pool
You may think a contemporary pool would add value to your home, but think again.
In his book, The Ultimate Guide to Real Estate, property guru John McGrath argues that pools do not add any value. “Trouble is, a lot of buyers don’t want pools,” he writes. “Pools require costly and time-consuming maintenance, and there are child safety issues. That doesn’t appeal to a lot of people.”
The appeal of natural light
A home with an abundance of natural light will always appeal to potential buyers, so the addition of skylights or sun tunnels is a good way to improve your property’s value – especially if it’s a period home, which is more likely to be dark.
Think outside the home
Australians love outdoor living and a functional outdoor space can instantly boost the value of your home. “The current theory is that the best money you can spend on your home to get a return is on the outdoor spaces,” Cleary said. “A nice established garden or a barbecue entertaining area will appeal to most buyers.”
It’s the simple things
Overall, there are more cost-effective ways to add value than a full-scale renovation. In his book, John McGrath advises making simple cosmetic updates, such as updating floor coverings, whether it’s steam cleaning existing carpets or revealing and polishing the floorboards.
“There are subtle things you can do to add value,” Cleary added, “such as painting the exterior and interior of the house, getting rid of feature walls and keeping up with trends.
“Minor changes such as changing the knobs on the kitchen cabinets or updating the splashback to modernise an old kitchen are great for adding value, you don’t need to go to the expense of renovating before selling.”
Do it for yourself
A full-scale renovation is best undertaken for your own enjoyment, Cleary advised. “Any major renovation you’re going to undertake, you are better off doing it if you are going to stay there for five to 10 years, than doing it for the sole purpose of selling” she said.
“The cost of renovations has really ballooned in recent years and you won’t necessarily recoup the whole cost when selling the home.”