Most of us live very busy lifestyles and often fall into the trap of neglecting one of our biggest monetary investments. However, the longer we delay home improvement tasks, the bigger and more costly they become. By regularly maintaining and improving your property you’re not only adding value, you’re saving yourself more work and expense in the long run.
Whether your house is on the market or not, the best way to make a critical assessment is to look at it through a potential buyer’s eyes. Freshly painted walls throughout the house will add a fresh and clean perspective for the buyers but that’s not where you should stop…
1. First Impressions
Known in the property industry as the all-important Curb Appeal, buyers often decide whether they like a property or not by just looking at it from the outside. Frequently overlooked are roofs. Even if the exterior of your house is freshly painted, a badly stained weather-beaten roof will completely spoil the effect. For a dramatic transformation, have your roof pressure cleaned, followed by a coat of roof paint and you’ll be rewarded with a roof that looks brand new. Unless you know what you’re doing and have a good head for heights, leave this particular chore to the experts.
Now that your roof is sorted, ensure the driveway lives up to the roof’s new status. Oil and other stains on your driveway can make your home look shabby and uncared for and can lower its value at first sight. Depending on the type of driveway and the nature of the stain there are chemicals on the market that can help remove the stains – follow up with a pressure clean.
2. Go Local in the Garden
Water is becoming an expensive commodity and many places in SA are on serious water restrictions. By selecting water-wise indigenous plants best suited to your area you’ll save money and add value at the same time.
With careful planning and choices (there are more than 22 000 species of seed plants indigenous to southern Africa), and good maintenance, a water-wise garden can survive with minimal water during dry periods. Plants with low water requirements usually also need less maintenance, an added attraction to potential buyers who may be put off by a high maintenance garden.
3. The Heart of the Home
Kitchens can make or break a home, as can bathrooms. They can either add or decrease the value considerably depending on the state they’re in. An open plan kitchen is the most popular option. If you’re in the process of complete renovation or changing to open plan, ensure that there’s enough storage space to minimize clutter. Also, there should be a flow in style, finishes and décor between the kitchen and the areas it connects to. A scullery is a big plus. For the work tops, a stone top is a definite investment. Keep your cabinetry and walls fairly neutral, bringing in some colour/texture with splashbacks. Your decor accessories should also bring in some colour, texture and interest.
A separate laundry area off the kitchen is ideal, otherwise ensure that there’s place for a washing machine, drier and a dishwasher in the scullery or kitchen. When you change the layout of a kitchen or bathroom, moving the plumbing and electrics can be costly. Where possible keep the plumbing in the same place or as close as you can.
Cosmetic fix ups:
A closed or open plan kitchen can be updated without major renovations. Old cupboards can be instantly transformed with a coat of paint. There’s an excellent range of multi-purpose primers on the market now that can be used on anything including melamine. Replacing doors (if the carcasses are in good shape) and changing the handles can make an impressive difference. While Granite tops undoubtedly add value and durability there are some very attractive Melamine tops on the market if you’re on a tight budget.
Added value: Fully renovated kitchen 18 – 20%
Cosmetic Lift 10 - 15%
4. The Bathroom
A main en suite bathroom is on most buyers’ essential list. Colours like avocado, turquoise, rose etc., are best left to their natural environment! Novelty toilet seats are not making a come back soon either! Neutral is the way to go for tiles and san-ware, off-white and sand colours are the safest option and you can bring your colour in with trimmings and bathroom accessories. Use of coloured mosaics or interest tiles can look fabulous and should be placed strategically in the bathrooms.
Modern bathrooms are no longer tiled floor to ceiling – rather they are tiled to a certain height, and the walls painted in a coordinating colour and a shower is an absolute must in terms of adding value, even if it means replacing one of the baths. Opt for a frameless shower screen if you have the budget, as it allows a sense of space and light. Stone tops on the vanities look attractive and are more splash resistant. Dark and dingy bathrooms are real turn off. Make your windows as large as possible to allow maximum natural light in and don’t forget storage. Glass shelving in a small room gives a sense of space.
For tired and outdated tiles - Tile primer to the rescue! Just ‘neutralizing’ the colour can make your entire bathroom look radically different. Re-enameling the san ware will give it a facelift, but ensure you use a reputable company for this. Shop around for accessories such as towel racks and toilet roll holders. They can be bought at hardware and department stores a lot cheaper than at the sanitary ware stores. If you don’t have a shower, consider adding one to an existing bath.” If you have a darker bathroom, stick with lighter shades and try not to clutter.
5. Reflections on Value
The clever use of mirrors will add light and double the visual width of a room. Mirrors provide a special magic in decor, brightening and seemingly expanding space. Narrow, windowless passages are dramatically enhanced by the use of mirrors, as are dark bathrooms, bedrooms and lounges. In fact, any room that needs to be visually enlarged or lightened will benefit. Remember, space and light sell. Entrance halls often get a touch a grandeur when a mirror is added.
6. Cool and Bright
Estate agents will tell you that in most cases a dark house will immediately put buyers off. Downlighters are ideal as they give overall lighting without being too bright - and a dimmer switch is a plus. If you have dark passages, skylights are an interesting option. We live in a country that enjoys abundant sunshine, so make the most of natural light. When renovating don’t skimp on windows, and have doors open to the outdoors. Doors that lead onto covered patios are definite value-adders.
A cool house in summer is also essential. While air conditioning does add value, ceiling fans are a must. Opt for quality fans which should be professionally installed or there are a variety of combination fan/lights on the market which are both attractive and effective.
Ensure your colour scheme doesn’t let you down! Neutral or parred down colour schemes with tasteful touches of colour add a calming and inviting feel. Whereas garish, overly bright or dark colours can sometimes be a huge detraction as much as most people cannot visualize the home without it.
You should have at least one lockable garage, though a double garage adds a lot more value. A garage that leads directly into the home or courtyard is also very sought after, as are automated garage doors.
Brighten a stained garage floor with a good scrub followed by an application of floor paint, available in a range of colours. Floor paint can also be used to transform concrete floors.
Unfortunately this has become a serious issue in South Africa and a ‘must have’ for most potential buyers. Secure walls, burglar guards, security doors electric fencing, and automatic gates are in demand and a high-tech alarm system with armed response will also add value (unless you live in a secure complex).
9. Streamline the Clutter
An untidy, cluttered home can negatively affect your life and if it’s on the market and open to viewing, instantly devalue your home. The easiest way to de-clutter is to divide everything into piles: items used daily, seldom used and never used. Be ruthless – throw away or donate unused items to a charity.
Very important is the furnishing in your home. Soft furnishing such as scatter cushions on couches & beds and curtains or blinds on your windows make a softer ‘homelier’ statement to both guests and potential buyers. Remember to hang towels neatly in the bathrooms, straighten rugs etc.
Be sure to have furniture that fits the room. If potential buyers keep bumping into things they will assume that there is not enough space and that the home is too small. Also try decorating the rooms according to their function. If you have desks and files all over the dining room table buyers will once again assume lack of space. Don’t try squeeze double beds into a room that should only have a single bed in it.
And Another important aspect is the aroma or odour your home gives off! Clean dirty carpets to dissolve any traces of pet smells or smoke. If a smoker lives in the home it is a good idea to get curtains and upholstery cleaned as well.
And if all of this is too much for your plate right now, why not drop me a line.