Despite a tight budget and an even tighter deadline, some smart improvements added an extra $150,000 to this home’s sale price.
When Michael Edwards’ grandmother was placed in a nursing home in mid-2017, he faced the urgent need to cover the cost of her care. The solution was to sell his grandma’s home, but the property, which had been in the family for almost 50 years, was in original condition and needed a thorough makeover.
Located on Sydney’s upper North Shore, the house is set on a generous 900 square metre block. But with a dated interior, Michael’s real estate agent felt the property would be likely to fetch land value only.
“I needed to maximise the value of the house so that Nan could enjoy the best possible care,” explains Michael. “I couldn’t afford extensive renovations, so I had to focus on those improvements I could complete myself that would add the greatest value to the place.”
Brightening the interior
Michael’s first port of call was to hire several skip bins and clear out any furniture that hadn’t gone to relatives or the local charity store. Once the house was empty, it was time to brighten up the interiors – a job that required significant preparation.
Michael explains, “There was a variety of wallpapers in the house including one featuring a pattern of over-sized flowers on a brown background. It had been popular back in the day but it made the rooms seem small and dark”.
Using a hired steamer, the wallpaper was removed, cracks were filled, and the entire interior was painted in a soft cream to create a sense of light and flow.
Next came the flooring. The old carpets were pulled up to reveal the original tongue and groove floorboards, but it was pretty clear they were in poor shape.
“I didn’t have the time or money to repair and polish the boards,” recalls Michael. “So I laid a floating floor in the main living areas”. By selecting a lighter coloured laminate, the interior was instantly lifted. A contemporary carpet in a neutral shade of cream was selected for the bedrooms.
Cosmetic touches for the kitchen and bathroom
The kitchen was basic though functional, and Michael was able to get away with giving the cupboards a fresh coat of paint, replacing the old timber handles with brass knobs, and adding a new light fitting.
The bathroom was more problematic. “This was probably the weak spot of the house,” says Michael. “It’s small by modern standards. There were a lot of cracked tiles and the vanity unit was on its last legs. It was very tempting to rip the lot out and install a whole new bathroom but I had to remind myself that I was renovating the house for sale – not to live in, and it made sense to stick to cosmetic changes.”
Michael gave the bathroom a quick but effective facelift, starting out by replacing the chipped tiles. “I came across a set of vintage tiles online that were a perfect match but the asking price was pretty steep, and it was just sheer luck that I found a box of spare tiles tucked away in the garden shed. So it cost me next to nothing to chip out the broken tiles and replace them.” The crumbling vanity was replaced by a smaller, modern unit, which helped the room appear more spacious.
The garden was tidied up and pruned back, and several weekends were dedicated to repainting the exterior of the house in tones of pale grey.
Hiring a home stager
“By this stage the house looked amazing” says Michael. “It was so much brighter inside – clean and fresh, with a contemporary colour palette.”
Michael’s real estate agent was equally impressed with the improvements, pointing out that the home was now in a condition where a buyer could move straight in. However, he advised that giving the home a more “lived in” feel would boost its market appeal. A home staging service offered an easy, though expensive, solution.
“At a cost of $4,000 home staging was something I had to really think about,” says Michael. “But the end result was impressive and it definitely gave the home a more polished look.”
A big boost in value for a small outlay
By taking a few weeks off work, and later devoting evenings and weekends to the project, Michael was able to complete the improvements in around eight weeks. With the house completely transformed, the property was listed for sale at auction, and sold under the hammer in late September 2017 for the reserve price.
Michael’s total renovation budget came in at $15,000 broken down into:
|Skip bin hire/rubbish removal||$3,000|
|Home staging and furniture hire||$4,000|
|Light fittings, equipment hire, incidentals etc.||$1,300|
Looking back, Michael says, “There were times when the renovation seemed overwhelming especially as I was doing all the work myself to save on labour costs. But it was extremely rewarding both personally and financially. When I compare the agent’s original estimate to the final sale price, I’d say the improvements added an extra $150,000 to the value of the property”.
Michael’s budget-friendly renovations – and their impact on the home’s sale value, highlight the merits of focusing on a property’s weak spots rather than investing in full-blown renovations when you’re preparing a home for sale. It could be the clincher that helps you pocket extra cash to take that next step on the property ladder.
Talk to your Aussie Broker about the steps you can take to prepare for upgrading to your next home.