7 Jan 2016

Whether you’re selling your home this year or simply aiming to freshen it up, you can achieve a surprising amount on a small budget. For under $500, along with some elbow grease and a few YouTube tutorials, you can revitalise and modernise your home.

We’ve taken 10 ways to add value that cost less than $500, and Mike Pero, CEO and founder of Mike Pero Real Estate, has estimated how much additional value each one could potentially add. This ranges from hundreds of dollars ($$) to several thousand dollars ($$$$$)*.


1. Declutter and clean

Cost: From $0, but you could turn a profit

Value added: $$ - $$$$$

There’s nothing that gives you a better return on your investment than tidying and cleaning your home. Pull out those unwanted items to discard or donate – or sell them on TradeMe and you could actually make a few extra dollars.

The more cluttered and grubby your home, the more value this will add. In a recent survey, UK real estate agents estimated that removing bulky items to create more space in your house could increase its sale price by up to £2,500 (around NZ$4,800).

“This is a must before an open home,” says Mike Pero. “General clutter can create the illusion that a room is a lot smaller and lacking storage, and this can ultimately be a make-or-break for some buyers.”

Before you sell, you also need to remove your most personal possessions; walls papered in family photos and kids’ artwork make it hard for buyers to envision themselves living in the house.


2. Spruce up your street view

Cost: From $30 to repaint front door; $100 to $250 for a new letterbox; $10 to $30 for new welcome mat

Value added: $$$$$

What’s the first thing you do when you’ve seen a house for sale that you’re interested in? A drive-by. If the front of the house looks dreadful, you may not even bother going to the open home.

“First impressions are crucial. Walk across the road and view your house with a fresh set of eyes – see what your first impression is,” Pero advises.

“Are there nails hanging off the letterbox, a partly broken fence or spots of algae or mould? All of these small things are an easy fix and can go a long way to making a memorable first impression.”

For under $500 you can replace the letterbox and numbers, and repaint the front door. A new welcome mat is a cheap way to improve the street appeal, and make sure the plants and trees on your driveway are neatly trimmed. Adding pot plants to a front entrance can also make a big impact at a low price.

Don’t forget those exterior lights, too – affordable replacements could do wonders to modernise the look of your home.


3. Give your kitchen a facelift

Cost: From $450 for a small kitchen

Value added: $$$$$

It’s possible to give your dated kitchen a cosmetic facelift on a small budget. Affordable kitchen drawer pulls cost $2 to $8; cupboard handles cost around $20 each and the paint (primer plus enamel) for a small kitchen’s cabinet fronts will cost around $130. All up, you’re looking at about $450.

“The kitchen is still considered the heart of the home and is a big draw card to many purchasers,” Pero says. “By simply replacing tired-looking handles and repainting your units you can modernise the look of your kitchen.

“If you want to branch out and spend a bit more then you could look at replacing your splash-back or bench top.”


4. Smarten up your garden

Cost: From $0

Value added: $$$$

Giving your scruffy garden a makeover is an extremely cost-effective way to increase its appeal to buyers.

A well-kept lawn, trimmed hedges, and weed-free paths make the most of your outdoor space.

“A well-presented garden can add great value to any home,” says Pero. “You can create an inviting outdoor oasis by simply mowing the lawn, pruning overgrown plants and disposing of any stray branches or leaves. You could go a step further and add a splash of colour by planting some shrubs or perennials.”


5. Repaint your walls

Cost: From $450 for a small house

Value added: $$$$

Paint is a renovator’s best friend, and it’s possible to repaint the interior of a small house for around $450.

A paint calculator will help you work out how many litres you’ll need (21L for a small house), and interior paint starts at around $14 per litre, plus brushes, rollers and painter’s tape.

“A fresh coat of paint can add a new lease of life to your house,” says Pero. “It’s best to repaint with a neutral palate – this allows the new owners to easily put their own touches on the house.”


6. Fix the fence

Cost: Around $50 for 10L of fence paint

Value added: $$$$

Another important ‘street appeal’ factor, you can use stain or fence paint to transform your old fence. Fresh coat will revitalise your fence, says Pero, and hide imperfections.


7. Take care of the little repairs

Cost: From $0

Value added: $$$

You’re accustomed to that sticky window and the drippy tap, and it’s years since you last thought about that missing grout in the bathroom. But potential buyers are going to be your biggest critics, says Pero, and they’ll be totting up these items and wondering how much it’s going to cost to repair them all.

Buyers start to build up a picture in their minds of a house that requires a lot of work, when in fact most of these small jobs can be done at little or no cost.

Those jobs might include oiling doors and windows, replacing washers on taps, patching and repainting small dents in walls, sanding down the top of a door or filling in missing grout between tiles.


8. Replace the light switches

Cost: Around $450

Value added: $$$

In general, you should leave electrics to the experts, but replacing light switches is one job you can legally and quickly do yourself. That keeps the job affordable, with basic switches priced between $25 and $50 each, helping to create a “crisp, fresh appearance,” says Pero.


9. Install new interior door handles

Cost: From $350 for 10 interior doors (DIY installation)

Value added: $$

This is a relatively quick and cheap way to make your home look more modern, with basic interior door handle sets priced at $35 to $60.

“You may no longer notice your tired, outdated door handles, but potential buyers will. By replacing handles you can give any room an instant boost,” Pero says.


10. Clean your carpet

Cost: Around $200 for a professional clean on a medium-sized house or do it yourself with a Rug Doctor for around $70.

Value added: $$

The family carpet gets a lot of wear, spilt food and pet hair, so cleaning the carpet helps it to look – and more importantly smell – its best.

“While it may go unnoticed it will improve your home’s presentation and eliminate any lingering odours,” says Pero. “This is vital step to follow if you have pets in your home.”


*Estimates for value are a guide only and actual returns will depend on the original condition of the house, the quality of the improvements and many other factors. Talk to a real estate agent or valuer who can recommend the best ways to add value to your property before selling.