Renovating to sell: where to invest

Ryan Boyd
Renovating to sell: where to invest

You’re thinking of selling and want to do a bit of work to make your house as attractive as possible, but at the same time not overdoing it.

We asked a few real estate agents: if we had $5k to spend to get our property ready to sell, where should that money go, and also where should it not?


Get everything in order first

“The best thing you can do first up is make sure you haven’t got anything wrong with your home that you that could affect its ability to sell,” says Ben Stevens from Ray White in Wellington.

“That would be getting a building inspector to come around and look at my home and tell me is there anything there that could affect the sale.

“There’s no point putting five grand into paint, paper, carpet or anything like that and then to discover you’ve got a problem with your home you’re unaware.”


People value what they see

But assuming that all turns out ok, Ben says the best place to invest is in decor.

“People value what they see,” he says. “If you went and spent money on what I couldn’t visually pick up on quickly, I’m not going to value it.

He singles out carpet, interior paint, pathways, and a house wash as potential quick fixes that make a big difference to the perception of the house.

Kristin Davis, from Ray White in Lower Hutt, agrees that presentation is key.

“I would always walk around their home and offer advice of what items to move into garage or storage so the house has less clutter or just items,” she says.

“The reason behind this is to make the house look as clear as possible so it looks tidy and bigger. Also if the house is empty I would recommend they get it staged by a home staging company.”

Similarly, improving street appeal can help get people in the door, says Daniel Coulson from Bayleys.

“Anything that the buyer’s going to notice first, anything from the streetfront. Things like painting a fence, tidying gardens. A lot of this you can do yourself, which will mean the money is going to go further.”

He also singles out anything that’s likely to be photographed for the ads as areas to focus on.

“When people are looking at property online, and they are gauging the property purely on the imagery they are seeing.”


What not to spend money on

However it’s important not to waste time on things that people don’t really care about, says Ben.

“I wouldn’t spend any money looking after a garage. That’s a bonus. People buy the house and every extension from there is a bonus.

“If I don’t like the house but love everything about the property, I’m not going to buy your property. The house has to be right for me, and then I’m willing to forego other areas because the house has to be right.”

Daniel says that adding too much of a personal touch to your renovations is a waste of time and money.

“While I recommend people tidy up paintwork and that type of stuff” he says, “if your favourite colour is blue it doesn’t necessarily mean paint the walls blue, because it’s going to narrow your market.”

Instead he suggests keeping it as neutral as possible.

Similarly, focussing too much on making one aspect of the house amazing can backfire.

“I think where a lot of people make mistakes is if they’ve got a house that is slightly dated,” says Ben, “they renovate the bathroom for example, and that actually highlights the remaining amount of work that needs to be done.”


If you have money left over

In the event your do-ups come in under budget or you just don’t really need to do any, Daniel says there’s another way to get more people interested.

“If you’re looking at spending money on presenting a property, it might be worth considering using some of that budget and investing it in further marketing and increasing the property’s profile online.”

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