If you’re planning to sell your home, increase your equity, ‘flip’ a property or improve your rental income, you could make your property more appealing with a few simple renovations.
We most often buy with our eyes and emotions, so if you can create a home people can picture themselves making memories in, you’re halfway there. While every property is different, here are nine of the easiest ways to update your home to increase its value, improve buyer confidence and increase the chance to sell or rent it at a higher price.
1. Street appeal
When we are driving down a street, it’s the exterior of the home that draws us in. The slick and clean neutral weatherboard home with a tidy green garden and freshly-painted timber fence helps us to envision a great life there. An attractive house piques our interest and entices us through the front door.
Update the exterior
If your home is weatherboard, a fresh coat of paint can give it a much-needed facelift to take it from weary and worn to a stand-out on your street. Similarly, rendering your brick home could transform it from mediocre to a modern masterpiece.
The trick to improve the chance of a high return on investment is to choose a neutral, modern colour that won’t date quickly. If you’re unsure, many paint companies offer colour consultant services to help you decide.
Renovate the roof
Not only does a tired roof make the home look bad, but no-one wants to buy a home with a leaky roof – or the potential of one in the near future. Repairing, replacing or simply repainting the roof could ensure buyers don’t steer clear of your property or question what else is wrong with it.
Fix the front fence
Does adding a deck add value to your home? Well if you want to add a deck but your fence is looking lacklustre. Updating your fence can also lift the overall feel of your property. If you decide to do so, be careful how much you spend. Consider your options, such as painting or rendering, rather than starting from scratch. A new fence might be worthwhile if your street appeal is appalling, but if it’s not, the fence might not add as much value as it costs to complete. Repairing a fence could range from between $750 to $1,500 while replacing a house fence can be between $1,500 to $4,000.
Which could mean a deck has an even worse rate of return.
2. Entrance enhancements
Once the potential buyer has decided to step inside your home, you will want them to continue to be impressed, so it’s a great idea to make the entrance as inviting as the overall facade.
Small, inexpensive ways to improve your entrance can include investing in an edging tool to tidy up your front path, updating the letterbox, fixing any loose pavers, laying a welcoming entrance mat or even updating the door.
Each of these updates will send a message to your potential purchasers that your home is up-to-date and well-maintained. It will give them the best possible impression of a home that could soon be theirs to boast about and enjoy.
Most of the above entrance enhancements can be done in a single day after a trip to Bunnings. A new letterbox and doormat start from about $15 each, while the average cost of a new front door is anywhere between $500 to $2,000.
3. Lick of paint
We’ve mentioned the benefits of freshening up the exterior, and the same applies to inside the home. A fresh coat of paint or change of colour can completely transform the look and mood of each room. Even if you love the colour of the walls as they are, they are likely to be dirty, so a fresh coat could still go a long way. What’s more, it is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to modernise a property. If you have the patience and the time, doing it yourself could save you a lot of money!
It is ideal to maintain neutral colours throughout your home, such as creams and mochas. Neutrals will appeal to more people and will enable others to envision their style in the home easily.
If your doors, skirting boards, architraves and windowsills are looking a little worse for wear but aren’t in desperate need of paint, you could simply clean them with a solution designed for timber surfaces instead.
4. Flooring fixes
We’ve all walked into a home where the carpet that was once cream now looks to be closer to brown. If it appears the property hasn’t been looked after, it automatically makes the buyer question what else has been left to deteriorate. Even if the carpet doesn’t look bad, you might be surprised by just how dirty it is once they have been professionally cleaned. Plus, it’s extremely affordable.
Unfortunately, no amount of cleaning is going to make mustard carpet look good, so it could be time to replace it completely. New carpet significantly varies in cost. Dyed nylon starts at about $40/m2 while wool carpeting begins at around $50 to $60/m2 and up to $275/m2 for alpaca wool. On top of that are installation costs.
If you decide to rip up the carpet and find floorboards underneath, try testing a patch with equal parts of boiled linseed oil, turpentine and white vinegar to see what they could look like when clean. Today, floorboards and tiles are often looked upon favourably by buyers and tenants, particularly those with pets, due to their ease to clean and the fact they don’t retain odours as carpet does. Plus, it is much easier to lay a rug down to make the room warmer or install carpet on the floorboards than it is to lay floorboards over the carpet.
If you already have floorboards that need a bit of love, look into having them re-sanded and then getting them lime-washed, stained or re-sealed to suit your home.
Fresh flooring is an easy fix to give your home a more modern, clean and luxurious feel.
5. Quick kitchen revamp
It’s known for being the heart of our home; where we cook our meals each night, rush around making the kids’ breakfasts and host our guests on a relaxing Saturday evening. Not only do we want it to be functional and spacious, but we also want it to look and feel amazing. This room is well worth investing in because it usually pays off. The best part is, you don’t need to rip your entire kitchen out and spend $20,000 to make it feel a little more luxurious. A general rule of thumb for a total kitchen budget is two per cent of your current property value. Anything above this and you could risk overcapitalising and reducing your return on investment.
New benchtop and a sleek splashback
Aside from the flooring and walls, the surfaces we look at most regularly in our home is our kitchen benchtop and splashback. If yours are looking a bit outdated or worn, replacing them could contribute to lifting the feel and overall value of your home. The material you choose will determine the cost. Timber and quartz may be around $500 to $1,500/m2, while granite and marble can be anywhere between $700 to $2,000/m2. Laminate is your cheapest option at as little as $100 to $400/m2 and can offer some terrific stone-effect designs to substitute the real deal!
Today, there is even the option of saving a couple of thousand by placing a granite benchtop straight over your current bench rather than ripping your old one out. A great tip to choosing the best benchtop and splashback is to take into consideration your floor and cupboard doors – do they all complement each other or clash?
Freshening up your cupboards is one of the most budget-friendly ways to update your kitchen. If $2,800 to $4,500 for basic cabinetry isn’t worth it, a coat of paint and some new handles could be all your kitchen needs. There is paint available today that can cover even the shiniest of laminates and delving into the latest design magazines will help you choose the trendiest handles.
New tap fittings
Old, broken, mouldy tap fittings aren’t enticing for anyone and can reduce the overall value of your kitchen. If you’ve gone to the trouble to update your benchtop, cupboards and handles, an extra $100 for tapware and $200 on an inexpensive kitchen sink might be worth it. But beware: an old kitchen sink and tap fittings could reduce the value of your kitchen, but the new may not necessarily increase the value, so don’t go overboard.
If the rest of your kitchen is now looking sleek except for your stovetop and oven (which now probably stand out like a sore thumb), it may be time to replace them with something that blends in with your new luxury.
Much like your tap fittings and the kitchen sink, the goal is to ensure the old appliances don’t decrease the value of the room. As these electricals may not increase your home’s value, do the calculations with your property valuer or agent to see if the investment is worthwhile.
Creating a home that stands out from others’ (in a good way) plays a large part in raising the value of your property. A butler’s pantry, island bench or a built-in fridge and dishwasher with front panels that match your cabinetry could be the difference between your property and the other one your potential buyer is eyeing off.
6. Bathroom basics
If you are looking for a quick lift for your bathroom, start by replacing the toilet, sink, fixtures and fittings. A new toilet can create a sense of cleanliness, and a new sink and tapware can turn an out-of-date bathroom into modern comfort.
Much like the rest of the house, the colour of the walls and the flooring in the bathroom can make or break the room. White walls will make the bathroom look clean, bright and bigger.
Opt for a neutral floor that will appeal to many. If spending $1,500 to $2,500 on a new floor isn’t a wise option for you, there are different paint selections for most floors, including high-gloss tile paint and clever grout pens designed to paint over discoloured grout.
Much like the kitchen, the bathroom consists of many fixtures and fittings that can quickly consume your budget. Remember, you don’t need to spend big to lift the look of the room.
7. Update the outdoors
Many modern homes now merge seamlessly with the garden via a bifold door or an alfresco-ready area. As we all know, Australians love entertaining, so many will want external spaces to enjoy with family and friends in good weather and bad. With this in mind, an all-weather area as an extension to your home could be a sound investment in the value of your property.
While gardening may not be a passion of your potential buyer, a stunning outdoor space will also be a big draw-card for many buyers and tenants. The primary goal is to make it look clean, up-to-date and low-maintenance.
The first step to achieve your goal is to remove the weeds and trim your plants. Install garden beds and add bark, pebbles or mulch to make the space feel fresh and clean. If you find holes here and there once you have tidied up, add some bursts of colour by planting some affordable flowers. Alternatively, purchase some well-established pot plants in statement pots and place them in the areas that need a little more life.
If you think your outdoor space needs more than a mini makeover, look at creating large, open areas of lush lawn with privacy and shade. In saying that, so make sure the increased property value outweighs the outlay.
Keep in mind that landscaping and renovations such as these often aren’t cheap. A whole new backyard with new trees, plants and a lawn could cost you upwards of $4,000 to $6,000, so make sure the investment is worth it.
8. Granny flat
An incredible increase in property value can come from a stand-alone granny flat. Not only do they provide the opportunity for additional income if they are rented out, but the space can also be used as a dedicated home office to maintain a professional working image and distinct separation from home and work life. Plus, we can’t forget the benefits of the extra space for guests or children as they get older.
Low-budget flat pack options to high-end designer versions are available today and can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 depending on the size and quality chosen. While granny flats may not be a cheap investment, the concept could be worth you investigating as the value could surpass the cost.
9. Attention to detail
To make your renovation truly worth it, create a property that feels like the owner could move in tomorrow. One of the easiest ways to do this is to pay attention to the details: new décor such as cushions, lamps and throws can make a big difference. Air conditioning, heated floors and LED lighting could be the distinction between your property and another.
What’s more, any savvy seller might want to equip their home with modern technology: ceiling speakers, smartphone-controlled lights and heating, or remote-controlled gates are all items that could set your home apart from competitors.
Don’t forget: not everything will give you a great return on your investment. Swimming pools, hidden renovations (such as electrical and structural), extravagant kitchens and bathrooms and complex landscaping can cost a lot without adding much value to your property. To avoid this, do your research into how much it will cost you for each update and talk to a property valuer to determine if it will be worthwhile. You will get the biggest bang for your buck by changing the highly visible, so there is a clear ‘before’ and ‘after’.
With some strategic planning, imagination and enthusiasm, in no time you could turn your home into hot property.
What are some minimalist home decorating ideas? Perhaps you still rent your property or aren't ready for any major investments just yet? Check out our article 5 DIY ideas to transform your rental kitchen and make your space feel fresh and new again.