If you’re thinking of putting your house on the market, you may be wondering whether there’s anything you can do proactively to make the property more saleable and achieve a higher price. The short answer is yes, there is, and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Aside from the usual major home renovation projects – loft conversions, home extensions etc – that are high capital investments designed to reap big rewards, there are many smaller improvements that can make a surprising difference to the value of your property.
First off, a fresh lick of paint or new wallpaper and some general maintenance can go a long way towards sprucing up your property. Take inspiration from current home decor trends and colour schemes to give your home a new lease of life.
Take stock of any superficial defects and get them fixed. From peeling paint to squeaky floors, dripping taps to mouldy sealant around the shower, these relatively minor issues can create the impression of an unloved and badly maintained home, leaving a poor first impression on potential buyers.
Be strongly advised that it is unwise to try and cover up bigger issues such as damp and condensation rather than getting them dealt with professionally. These things have a habit of coming back to haunt you, not least when they are picked up in the property survey. “A building survey will help property buyers find out more about the condition of the property in question and highlight any building issues that may not otherwise be obvious. Armed with greater insight, this allows for proper action can be taken, and the survey report can act as a powerful bargaining tool to help renegotiate the purchase price,” explains London Chartered Surveyor Scott Buchanan. You have been warned.
You don’t get a second chance to make a (good!) first impression. Making sure the outside of your house is well cared for and looks welcoming should be a key priority.
Start with the front door, a key indicator of how house proud you really are. A sparkling clean, attractive front door can say a lot about the rest of the house for property viewers seeing it for the first time. Try to make your front door look smarter than next door’s. Give the door a power wash, a fresh coat of paint, a new doorknob or house number, or replace it altogether.
Pay attention to your front garden, ensuring the lawn, beds and borders look healthy, tidy and visually appealing. Sometimes, all it takes is a clear pathway to your door, flanked by a couple of potted plants to add interest and entice the visitor inside. And if you have the space to add off-street parking, this could be a huge bonus in neighbourhoods where on-street parking is an issue.
If you have a rear garden, invest in some effort to make it feel like an extra space for relaxing and entertaining. Add a patio or decking to increase your usable alfresco living space, ensure that any overgrown trees or bushes are trimmed, pathways cleared and lawns maintained. Container gardening can add instant interest through colour and texture – and you can take the plants with you when you move.
Kitchens are the primary focus for many home buyers. According to property experts, a new kitchen will improve the value of your property by around 6%, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that two-thirds of sellers decide to renovate their kitchen before marketing their property.
You may not have the budget to replace the whole kitchen, but there are many smaller ways to make improvements that can also add value. How about painting the existing units, perhaps freshening up cupboard doors with new handles or replacing carcass doors? Effective kitchen lighting and clean, clutter-free surfaces will make a huge difference to the feel of your kitchen space.
If you have a little more budget, think about removing an internal wall between the kitchen and adjoining room. “By investing less than £3,500 on the creation of an open-plan kitchen and diner, homeowners in London can add a whopping £50,000 to the value of their home in just one week,” advises Brian Berry, CEO of the Federation of Master Builders.
Bathrooms should be fresh and hygienic looking at all times, so take a critical look and take the appropriate action. Paint the walls in a neutral shade, replace shower curtains or fit simple glass screens instead. Check sealant and grout for limescale and mould and splash out on some nice new taps for an immediate visual lift.
Replace any sanitaryware that is chipped, stained or in an unfashionable colour with classic white upgrades, and ensure that at least one of the bathrooms in the house has a shower and good ventilation.
Adequate lighting is key in a bathroom. If there’s a window, ensure it’s clutter-free to maximise the incoming daylight light. Replace old-fashioned and ineffective pendant lighting with powerful LED spotlights that don’t cost much. Add a mirror to make the space seem brighter and larger.
In a recent survey carried out by NAEA Propertymark, the UK’s leading body for estate agents, half of estate agents believed that adding a bedroom or loft conversion would add the most value while a third felt a new kitchen would provide the best ROI. But even if your budget doesn’t stretch to making these kinds of home improvements, you can still cash in on the idea.
Work with an architect or building contractor to draw up designs and obtain planning permission for a building extension or loft conversion, which can then be sold with the property. With the works already approved, the element of risk is removed from prospective buyers’ minds and creates an exciting opportunity for them to put their stamp on the property.