Getting on the property ladder is tough these days. It can take you years to build up the funds you need for a small deposit, and the banks don’t exactly make it fair on new home buyers. After all, in many cases, you will find that rental rates are higher than what you would pay for a home loan, but lenders can still be reticent about handing you a mortgage. But once you are on the ladder, things get a little easier for you – and you have a chance to maximize the value of your home and work your way up to a higher rung. But the big question is, what do you need to do to ensure that when you sell, people will be willing to match or exceed your asking price? There are a few things you need to consider, which we are going to take a look at now.
Before you lift a finger and start spending a fortune, it’s important to remember a few things. First of all, always remember that your zip code will determine the maximum value you can sell at. So, if you live in a five-bed house and the local market values other, similar five bed houses at, say, $500,000, you aren’t going to get much more than that. It would be pointless spending $200,000 on a swanky new kitchen, because you will end up losing a lot of that expenditure, and won’t be able to sell your home for $700,000 or more.
The structural issues
So, you think your home is worth what all the other houses on your street are worth. You put it on the market with a local real estate agent for the same price, and an interested party decides to get a home surveyor in to take a look. And from here, your problems begin. First, they find a leak in your roof, and you also have a touch of rising damp coming up from your basement. There’s a structural crack in your walls, too, and one of them is bowing. The surveyor also notices that your beautiful wooden beams are ridden with holes and have been infested with woodworm. And they also notice that you have an issue with your chimney. Is the potential buyer going to pay you the asking price once they know all this? Absolutely not, and you could end up losing tens – maybe even hundreds – of thousands of dollars on the sale. So, make sure you get a structural expert in to take a look at your property before you put it on the market. If there are any major issues it will cost you a significant amount of money to fix, but you will get it back – and maybe even some profit – when you sell.
Heating and air con
Again, updating your heating and air conditioning system is going to cost you a fair amount, but it will also always add value to your home. People will be willing to pay more upfront if they know that over time they will save money on their energy bills, so always choose the most efficient and eco-friendly system you can find. It’s also important to consider the little fixes, too. Adding insulation to your loft space, replacing windows to double-glazed alternatives, and making sure any drafty areas such as doors or windows are completely sealed can all help you get close to your asking price.
Wiring and plumbing
Another area of concern for homebuyers is the quality of your wiring and plumbing. If neither has been touched for a few decades – or more – the likelihood is it will plant a seed of doubt in the buyer’s mind. There is plenty of evidence that old buildings were built to higher quality standards than many modern houses, but unfortunately, it isn’t the same case for the internal workings of your house. Modern wiring and a new plumbing system will be more efficient, cause fewer problems, and set your buyer’s minds at rest. As well as increasing the value of your home, of course. While you are doing your electrical wiring, think about installing additional power sockets to allow for the vast array of electronic devices a buyer will likely have. You might want to update your lighting, too.
Minor fixes and cleaning
As we discussed earlier, you don’t have to spend a fortune on decking out your home with an eye-wateringly expensive kitchen, bathroom, or master bedroom. But you do need to pay close attention to the little details. Everything should be super clean so the prospective buyer can imagine moving in and living in your home straight away. Little things like peeling paint, squeaky doors and windows, and mold in the grout of your bathroom tiles can all make buyers think twice about your asking price. Check all taps to ensure they aren’t dripping, too, and make sure you carry out necessary repairs on any broken windows or creaks on your stairs. Use your nose, too – or rather, someone else’s. If there are any funky smells in your home, the chances are that you have gotten used to them over the years, so ask a friend to come around and have a sniff – and allow them the opportunity to be brutally honest.
OK, so that’s the basics taken care of. Now we’re going to take a look at some of the major renovations and changes you can make to your house that could add significant value to your asking price. Let’s take things from the top – with your loft space.
Attics and lofts
Are you making good use of the huge amount of space in your loft? If not, consider investing in doing it up, as it can increase the value of your home by a significant amount. You might be able to fit another two bedrooms up there, and a bathroom, turning your home from a 3-4 bed to a 5-6 bed in one simple upgrade. Yes, it’s going to be expensive, and you will also have to do some thorough checks to ensure you are complying with local regulations. And you also need to make sure that the cost of the renovation will be recouped when you sell – if your attic is in bad shape it might be more worthwhile just focusing on getting it fixed rather than paying for a conversion.
The kitchen is the hub of household life for families, and it’s one of the first places a prospective buyer will look when they come for a viewing. There are two things to consider when it comes to your kitchen: hygiene and attractiveness. Viewers will want to imagine themselves cooking for their families, eating at a breakfast bar each morning, and they don’t want to imagine having to rip it all out and start again. Again, and I can’t stress it enough, there is absolutely no need to spend a fortune, here. The more you spend in your kitchen, the more personality you will inject into it, and you have to face the fact that not every buyer will have the same tastes. Don’t forget, to maximize your asking price, you need as many people as possible to take an interest in your home. So, a modest investment is all it takes to improve your kitchen and increase the value of your house. Ultimately, the insides of an expensive kitchen are much the same as that of a cut price alternative – it’s only the doors, fixtures, and fittings that are different. And as long as they are in good order, clean, and attractive, most people will be happy to meet your valuation.
After the kitchen, the bathroom will be next on your viewer’s ‘hit list’ – for hygienically obvious reasons. Just like your kitchen, all bathrooms need to be clean, fresh looking and tidy. Lighting is important, too, as a dingy looking bathroom can be off-putting to prospective buyers. The great thing about bathrooms is that, again, you don’t have to push the boat out when it comes to renovations and upgrades. As long as it is in good condition, with no signs of damp and mold, a bathroom is remarkably easy to spruce up. A good scrub with grout cleaner can help your tiles look as good as new. And a few little touches of luxury can add some serious wow factor. At the end of the day, however, as long as your bathroom is neutral, clean, and tidy, you should have no problems convincing buyers that your home is worth the asking price – or more.
The outside space
Finally, don’t forget that the outside of your house is just as important as the inside. You want to focus on your ‘curb appeal’ as it will be the first thing viewers will see when they approach your house. Also, bear in mind that an attractive, well-designed garden can be worth its weight in gold when it comes to making your property sellable. Consider privacy, garden storage, and ensure that all dead plants and garden debris are clear for when prospective buyers come for a viewing.
As you can see, there is a lot to think about when it comes to increasing the value of your home. But you should be careful about spending your money in the right areas. Spend most on the structural issues and ‘back of house’ things like rewiring and plumbing. But as long as your home is clean, tidy, and fresh looking, you won’t have to spend a fortune on rooms or design. Good luck with the sale!