A real estate agent will tell you what buyers are looking for and what changes to make for the best return, but here are some places to splash, gamble or hold your money.
• Repairs: Time and money spent repairing obvious defects is rarely wasted, as buyers want a property that’s in good shape. Check for visible signs of wear, inside and outside your home. Small jobs, such as filling gaps, re-grouting bathroom tiles or sanding and painting windowsills make a big difference to the appearance of your property.
• Marketing: This is an essential. Most agents will offer a minimum package of signboard, photos, print and internet advertising, but ask about its expected impact and what more can be done. A wider reach will generally raise the level of interest and, consequently, the returns you can expect.
• Plants: In garden beds or stuffed into decorative pots, healthy plantsmake a big difference to the way your home looks and feels, so splash out here. Try clumping bamboo for privacy and hanging baskets for a splash of colour. Inside, add a palm tree in the entrance, a weeping fig in the lounge and flowering peace lilies throughout.
• Soft furnishings: A new set of bed linen, towels and tableware makes any room look fresh and inviting.
• Dehumidifier: If it has been raining or you have a problem with damp, invest in a dehumidifier. It will make a huge difference to a musty home and you can take it with you.
Some spending might pay off, or not. Do your research, cost everything out and ask your agent what difference it’s likely to make before you jump in here.
• Painting: If the walls are seriously grubby or dingy, it could be worth spending a few dollars and a weekend slapping a fresh coat of painton them. Buyers want bright, clean rooms and this gamble may well pay off.
• Storage: The less furniture, belongings and clutter you have in your home, the more spacious it appears. If you still have too much after clearing out, put it in storage and live with minimal possessions for the sale period.
• Staging: Having a home stylist come in and stage your home for sale can be an expense that pays off, especially if you aren’t living in the house at the time. Depending on your budget, a stylist will advise or completely re-decorate in a consistent style, taking into consideration the type of house, the neighbourhood and what buyers want to see.
Before you splash out on home improvements, first weigh up the impact. If you replace the doors on kitchen cupboards when the insides are falling apart, buyers will wonder what else you’re covering up. Any major renovations need to actually have an impact on the final sale price, so be careful when going for gold, and remember that interested buyers may not like your aesthetic. Less can be more. Ultimately, what you spend and where should depend on the likely return in the current market. Anything you do needs to result in a higher sale price, otherwise you’ve wasted your time and money.’