Improving your home on a budget

There are some cheap and easy improvements you can make to your house to increase the chances of fetching the greatest return on your property.

When you sell your house, you’re normally in profit maximisation mode – ie, lowest cost, maximum profit. However, to obtain that sale  for the greatest return, you’ll possibly need to spend something to improve your property’s appearance.

What should you be aiming for with your improvements? One of the greatest sins at sale time is to have over-capitalised on your property. So, what improvement options do you have on a budget? Remember, the cost will be a function of materials, time and labour and local market conditions.

Potential improvement ideas you could think about include:

  • Parking – it’s always at the back of purchaser’s minds. Does your property have a garage, carport – or at least cleared space for, ideally, more than one vehicle? If there is no parking space, consider possibly trying to create some.
  • Does your property have indoor/outdoor flow? The addition of a sliding door to a pleasant outside area is a relatively cheap method of added value improvement.
  • Look at your kitchen and bathroom areas – upgrading them may not be as expensive as you believe.
  • Is your property fenced? Or, at least screened from neighbours? Privacy is very important for most people.
  • Consider updating the light fittings. It’s a relatively cheap means of automatic property modernisation – and may attract a different calibre of buyer (or tenant).
  • Remove shrubs or cut back trees to maximise natural sunlight. Properties with plenty of natural sunlight are more appealing in winter months when it can be more difficult to attract purchasers.
  • If the property has a carport or garage, you could investigate converting this into a sleepout.
  • If your bathroom or kitchen doesn’t have ventilation, add it. Trapped cooking fumes and steam can cause permanent damage.
  • If you need to purchase any materials, investigate buying them direct from the supplier – this could save you 10 – 15 per cent off the price.
  • Re-stain your decks. This instantly refreshes the area and tidies the overall appearance of the property. If there are no decks, check out how expensive it would be to add and determine if the rent increase justifies the expenditure.
  • Resurface any benchtops if they look dated or dirty. Changing cabinetry and benchtops can often be relatively inexpensive. Look at online auctions for whole kitchens that are being sold off.
  • Change the floor coverings. Phone around carpet and flooring retailers to investigate the availability of off-cuts and end-of-line inventory. Many of the more expensive coverings have cheaper look-alikes (often it is hard to tell the difference). Again, check what might be available on online auction sites.
  • Replace the shower or update the tapware. Any sign of mould or dirty showers can have prospective purchasers running from the property.
  • Think carefully before taking on all your renovations yourself. Often it is cheaper, less stressful and a lot cheaper to call in the experts. A D-I-Y attitude can sometimes be more of a hindrance.
  • If kitchen storage is lacking, add more. Buy a ready-made pantry unit and put units in bedrooms with no wardrobes.
  • Tile kitchen, laundry, bathroom and toilet areas to reduce water damage and improve value.
  • Add a heated towel rail to the bathroom.