Emma Norris - 31 Aug, 2021

20 home improvements to make before selling your home

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These budget-friendly home improvements can mean the difference between skeptical open house guests and the ‘sold’ hammer.

If you’ve made the decision to sell your home, it’s likely come after a long process of careful deliberation and calculation. Maybe it’s the right time in the market, prices have exploded in your area, or you’re just looking at a change in lifestyle. No matter what your situation is, the goal is the same: to maximise the selling price of your home. You want to make sure you make as much of a profit as on what you bought it for as possible.

But even in the strongest seller’s markets, there are a few factors that can let homeowners down and leave them disappointed with their sale offers.

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Buyers are looking at the whole picture (not just the location or potential investment return) when viewing your home — and that means first impression counts. If your home looks shabby, outdated, or like it needs a lot of work, you’re likely to turn off potential buyers or lowball yourself out of a better offer.

The good news is, you don’t have to do a full home renovation (as this can often be more expensive than it’s worth!) to boost your home value. By making a few, cost-effective home improvements, you can add the ‘wow’ factor and send your valuation price through the roof.

Here are 20 home improvements to consider making before selling your home.

1.   Reface the kitchen and bathroom

A modern kitchen and bathroom are top priorities for many prospective buyers. The good news is, you don’t have to do a full reno to give those rooms a high-end feel. Refacing is a great way to give them an update without breaking the bank. This is when you take out cabinet doors and panels and replace them with new ones, or paint the existing ones. You can hire a refacing team to do this for you, or tackle it as a DIY home improvement.

A white, modern kitchen

2. Eliminate mould

Nothing turns off potential buyers quite like a home that’s teeming with mould. Not only does it look unsightly, but it can create a strange smell. Not the first thing you want people to notice when they enter your home! While damp may not be as immediately obvious, it’s just as detrimental. Keep an eye out for wet or bulging walls, as they indicate a build-up of moisture. You can remove mould or damp yourself with warm water and detergent, or call in a team to do it for you.

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3. Fix cracks in walls

Cracked walls can make an otherwise modern home look worn or run-down. The good news is, it’s easy to fix interior cracks yourself by sanding the surface smooth, filling in the plaster, and adding some new tape. However, if the cracks are over 2.5 centimetres wide, it may be a sign of more serious damage and it’s best to call in the professionals.

4. Update your decor

Stylish, modern decor is one of the best ways to nail that first impression with prospective buyers. If your kitchen benches look like they’ve seen better days, adding a laminate like faux marble or stone quartz is an inexpensive way to boost the appearance. Adding sleek new fixtures like handles, a range-hood or sink (you can buy all of these inexpensively from IKEA) are other simple ways to elevate the aesthetic.

Modern living room decor

5. Replace the carpet

If you have carpets, this is one area in the home that will likely need serious attention before you sell. It only takes a few years of wear and tear before carpets start looking old, dirty, and worn. If possible, consider replacing carpets with polished floorboards in living areas, as this is one of the best ways to drastically increase the value of your home. Otherwise, you may choose to replace it with new carpet or get a thorough, professional steam clean.

6. Go green

Green, outdoor spaces are one of the biggest selling points in modern homes — especially in big cities. The good news is, you don’t necessarily need a huge backyard to do this. This could simply mean adding some plants to the entryway of your home, giving your balcony some TLC, or even doing some landscaping in your courtyard.

7. Re-grout tiles and fittings

Sometimes with home improvement, it’s the little details that make a difference. If your bathroom or kitchen taps have accumulated rust or crust around them, re-grouting can make them look as good as new again. This is a simple process where you remove the grout (the substance used to adhere parts together) and replace it with new grout. You can also do the same with your wall or floor tiles. Removing old, mouldy grout can make your tiles look good as new again, without having to retile completely.

Man re-grouting bathroom tiles

8. Get a deep clean

It goes without saying that you want your home to be sparkling clean for any inspection. But, when it comes to selling your home, it needs to be more than just a tidy-up and wipe-down of the surfaces. If possible, get in a professional cleaning team for a deep clean, as they’ll do everything from cleaning out the inside of the oven to scrubbing your bathrooms and balcony. This helps to ensure that prospective buyers are paying attention to the right things — not being distracted by dirt or grime.

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9. Replace the curtains or blinds

Much like carpets, stained or yellowing blinds can be an instant turn-off at an open house. Consider giving the blinds or curtains a clean with detergent and warm water or better yet, replace them completely. Installing some more light, gauzy blinds can also be a great way to make your home feel more light, airy, and open.

10. Declutter and de-personalise

Personal items are often what make a home feel more like home. The trouble is, you want potential buyers to be able to imagine themselves (or, their tenants) in the space, not you. Eliminate personal items like photos or trinkets in the home and reduce clutter, so that it feels like more of a blank canvas.

Man decluttering books

11. Give it a paint

It’s incredible what a fresh coat of paint can do to transform a home. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to make a room instantly look brighter and more modern. This is a particularly important step if you have chipped paint or peeling wallpaper. You might even consider adding a statement wall to make your home feel more unique — just avoid any overly bright or vibrant colours. Not sure where to start when it comes to painting your home? Check out this step-by-step guide.

12. Introduce new lighting

Lighting is a seemingly small detail that can give you a huge edge over the competition. The right lighting can completely change the feel of a home, as well as make it seem bigger and brighter. Whether it’s a new ceiling light, mounted wall fixtures, or even just some better globes, investing in your lighting can go a long way in home improvement.

13. Add an extension

If you have some extra cash to splash, you may want to consider extending your home — whether that’s building up or adding an extra room or outdoor space. Obviously, this is a big investment and often requires you to apply for construction permits. But, the potential to increase the value of your home is immense. Another option is to add some extra walls to divide your living spaces into separate quarters. While this may sound counterproductive, it can make your home more attractive to families who need more rooms.

A kitchen with an extension being built

15. Insulate external walls

Insulated walls are a hot commodity for home-seekers, because so few homes in Australia have them. This is fine in summer, but it means that many households are unprepared for the winter chill and have to pay to heat their homes! Getting your exterior walls insulated (which involves adding in an extra barrier to keep the heat in) is a project that may set you back $4000 to $8000, but can pay off in dividends.

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16. Install double glazed windows

If you live in a noisy area and are concerned about how that might affect your home value, double glazing your windows is a great home improvement. This is another insulation technique where two panes of glass are used, with a gap that traps air in between. Not only has this been found to reduce noise pollution, but it also helps to heat the home, too.

16. Clean up your exterior

Don’t forget the outside of your home, too! Paying attention to the exterior gives your property ‘kerb appeal’, a term used to describe the attractiveness of a home when viewed from outside on the street. This is the first time a potential buyer will see your home, so it’s important to make it count. So, make sure to touch up any chipped external paint, sweep the front area and even consider adding some plants to make your home look more inviting.

Man cleaning deck

17. Do some landscaping

Another important aspect of your exterior is the gardens. Overgrown weeds or yellow grass don’t exactly send the best message. So, if you have a front or back yard or a courtyard, spend some time landscaping. This home improvement will go a long way in shaping positive sentiment.

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18. Replace chipped porcelain

Don’t underestimate the power of the little things in increasing the value of your property. If you have chipped porcelain in your bathtub, sink, or toilet, this is an easy fix using a porcelain filler from Bunnings. But, it’s one that will make a world of difference in making your bathroom look cleaner and more put-together.

19. Install more storage

Storage is an often overlooked factor that can significantly raise the value of your home. Obviously, things like bookshelves and dressers aren’t going to come with your home. But, in-built storage like kitchen pantries or walk-in wardrobes are often seen as bonuses that make your home more liveable.

Kitchen pantry storage

20. Stage your home

The final touches can make the difference between skeptical open house guests and the ‘sold’ hammer. Research shows that a staged home will sell for 17% more on average than a non-staged home, and 95% of staged homes sell in 11 days or less. Every home looks better with furniture and staging helps to bring it all together in a stylish, cohesive way. Plus, it tends to look much better in real estate photos, so that you get more open house bookings in the first place!

By incorporating these home improvement tips, you can skyrocket the value of your property without breaking the bank. Now, all that’s left to do will be sort through all the high offers at auction!

Words by Emma Norris

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