Selling your home quickly and for the right amount is about giving your property the edge over others. Online Estate Agent NI looks at ways of breathing life into your home.
Major conversion projects, such as excavating basements or building conservatories, take time and money but they can yield excellent returns. Loft conversions, for example, can add up to 15 per cent to a property’s selling price. But there are other smart tricks that cost very little and can considerably enhance your property’s “kerb appeal” – giving it that wow factor when prospective buyers pull up outside your house for the first time.
Here are 10 ways, ranging in cost, to boost space and value:
Lick of paint
It might sound cosmetic but a coat of new paint (keep the colour neutral) can make a house feel clean, hygienic and cared for. While you are at it, update the front door furniture if it’s looking tired, replace any rotting window timbers or loose tiles and give the front flower beds a weed. First impressions count.
Add some parking
If you have a tatty front garden and you live in a town or city, it could be worth converting the space into an off-road parking area. Depending on the surface, this can be a cost-efficient way to add value, particularly if other properties in your street can’t offer the same.
Get planning permission
A property that comes with planning permission can often tempt buyers who have long-term ambitions for the property. Pay an architect to draw up plans for an extension, spend a bit of time getting them through planning and you could find yourself with a very desirable property (allow at least £2,500 to cover architect and council planning fees). Again, it’s about giving your property an edge over others.
Convert the garage into an office
A lot of today’s garages are no longer fit for purpose, having been designed when cars were smaller. They have become dead space and can easily be converted into another room. Before you do anything, though, find out what buyers are looking for in your area: is it houses with lots of bedrooms (families), or properties with an office (young professionals)?
Convert the loft
Loft conversions are not cheap or always straightforward but they can add considerable value to a property, particularly when space is at a premium. According to recent research by Savills, a good loft conversion can add 10 to 15 per cent to the value of a London home (valued at £1million to £1.5million) and five to 10 per cent in the rest of the UK (for homes valued at £500,000 to £1million).
Make sure you don’t eat into existing living space and remember to tell your insurer if you are using the space for another bedroom. Costs vary but a small conversion will set you back £15,000; a large one up to £40,000.
Add a conservatory
The key to a successful conservatory is to ensure that it flows from your existing rooms, rather than looking as if it’s just been tacked on to the outside. Savills suggests a good one could add as much as 12 per cent to the value of your home in London, five per cent for the rest of the UK and give you a lot more living space (at the expense of your garden, though). Expect to pay anything from £5,000 to £15,000.
Install a new kitchen
The kitchen is what most house-hunters will look at first. Sparkling work surfaces and new appliances can woo a wavering buyer. Kitchens are also what a lot of buyers strip out as soon as they buy a property, so don’t waste your money on something new but tasteless. An average new kitchen costs £8,000 and can add six per cent to your property’s value, according to consumer watchdog Which. The current trend is for open-plan living, so make sure your kitchen has a sense of space.
Converting a side return into a useful space is often an easy way to create an airy, open-plan kitchen or reception area but it can cost more than you think. Victorian town houses are particularly prone to having a dingy passageway running down the side of the property and this can be a good way to utilise the space. It can certainly add the wow factor and help properties to sell quickly. It can add five to ten per cent in city locations, according to Savills, but is less of a draw in the countryside.
Add an extra bathroom
Bigger houses need more bathrooms, particularly family homes. Nobody likes to queue in the morning. “The view is that more value is added relative to cost in a bigger property where a good bathroom count is really important,” says Robin Chatwin, Head of Savills, south west London.
Make sure all your existing bathrooms are spotless, too – it sets the right tone. According to Bathstore.com, the average cost of a new bathroom in the UK is £4,500 – but expect to pay a lot more. “One of the simplest ways to upgrade a family bathroom, if space allows, is to install a separate shower cubicle next to the bath,” adds Chatwin. “Increasingly, when given the choice, people would far rather have both and will pay a small premium – and cubicles are relatively straightforward to fit, too.”
Dig out a basement
It’s not cheap but in cities where the price per sq ft is high, returns can be considerable. Work on the basis that it will cost £300 to £500 per sq ft to dig out and fit a basement and then see how that figure compares with your area. Alternatively, waterproof an existing basement space, paint it, and install some lighting and use it for storage or as a utility room. Much cheaper.
Whether you want to spend money on a basement, or are only prepared to fork out on a tin of new paint, there are lots of ways to add value and space to your home. And if you really don’t want to spend anything at all, you could do worse than decluttering your property. It’s amazing how much bigger a space can feel when all the stuff we don’t need in life is removed.