There comes a time for every home owner when the house that was just right at a different time in your life, no longer suits your needs. Rooms once filled with teenage sounds and smells now lie empty and the task of taking care of a family home when everyone has left becomes confusingly pointless – empty nest syndrome is now a stark reality. The choice to sell will come easily enough but less clear is what might need to be done to the house before it goes on the market. The instinct of many down-sizers is to do home renovations, but many forget the old adage of less is more. There are some key renovation fails you don't want to be guilty of and to help you make clear decisions, follow these renovation tips to consider when downsizing your property.
Make realistic and informed decisions
Make a comprehensive list of all the things you want to do and then start crossing things out. If you have lived in the home for a long time there will be lots of things on your wish list that you have always wanted to do but never got to. It’s important to stay focused on the fact that you’re renovating to sell – so the renovations you do now are to add value to your propertyand service the needs of the market. Once you have your final list, it’s extremely helpful to book an appraisal with your local real estate agent and get a ball park idea of what your home’s market value might be. The agent can give you good feedback about your home, which may put some things back on your list and take other things that you thought were essential off it. The agent can give you advice about what kind of features the market is currently looking for to refine your renovation plans and make sure you are doing what will add actual dollar value, rather than just make the photos look good.
Renovate for today’s buyers, not for yourself
If you have been living in your home for decades, the inclination to finally do all those renovations you have been putting off for years can be hard to resist. However, resist you must, because these renovations are for the new owners, not for you. Getting caught up in the excitement of home renovations is a fool’s game, so heed the advice from your agent and proceed with sensible changes that will add value to the sale price of your property. Don’t make choices based on your own tastes and habits – avoid clichés and keep things neutral and practical. Stick with simple colour schemes in neutral tones and try to apply classic design elements such as polished floorboards, plenty of bench space and loads and loads of storage in every room possible.
Lock in a realistic budget
Once you’ve thoroughly discussed your appraisal, you will have a good sense of what home renovations you will be undertaking. The next step is to work out how much you can afford to spend and get some quotes to see if your budget and your plans align. The best way to secure a realistic budget is to overestimate how much everything will cost and keep some of your primary budget in reserve for the unexpected. For example, if your total budget is $60,000, try to stash $10-$20,000 away and work on a $40-$50,00 budget for as long as you can. There will inevitably be a blow out somewhere in the plans, or something that cost more than you had budgeted for, so having that extra cash as a buffer will be a great relief when that time comes. It’s also a good idea to choose to spend a little more on experienced professionals for the important stuff, rather than choosing a budget or DIY option. Trying to cut corners will more often than not result in you having to pay someone anyway at great expense later to fix the cheap workmanship.
Do it right or don’t do it at all
Many home renovators get overconfident about their skills and decide they can do way more DIY than they are actually capable of. As mentioned previously, money spent on professional skill and expertise, is an investment rather than an expense and should be chosen above the concept of “I’ll give it a shot”, every time! There are plenty of simple DIY projects that home renovators can undertake themselves – such as painting, putting together flat packed furniture, cleaning and polishing outdoor surfaces such as concrete and timber decking, landscaping – to name a few. However, when it comes to larger scale construction or projects, it’s crucial that you get the right advice and are realistic about your abilities. As many of our parents used to say – if you aren’t going to do it properly then just don’t do it at all.
Thinking of selling
The following advice is of a general nature only and intended as a broad guide. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial or real estate advice. You should make your own inquiries and obtain independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial or real estate decisions.