Maximise your return on real estate with a few clever cosmetic upgrades
When you’re renovating to sell, aim for neutral and simple interiors
There’s no denying we’re a nation of renovating enthusiasts. And while large-scale renovations traditionally increase as interest rates fall, our passion for fixing up and making new shows no sign of abating.
When you’re renovating a home you intend to stay in long term, adding personal touches to create a space that reflects your family’s needs is great.
But you need a different tactic when renovating to sell, says Sydney’s self-styled Renovation Rebel, Jarn Elias.
From working with one of the largest construction companies in Australia to creating a thriving business with his builder father Sydney Renovations Hire, Jarn knows what works.
‘Simple is best. I see so many people make emotional decisions fuelled by TV shows tailored to audiences who want to see the perfect home, instead of informing you about strategic home improvements for maximum returns.
‘When you’re looking for solid return on investment, you should avoid personalising,’ says Jarn.
‘Always keep the end user in mind and think neutral and simple. You want to present a clean and bright blank canvas that allows the buyer to see themselves living there.’
Pushing the profit
There are certain rules Jarn says can be applied to any property to make it as attractive as possible for sale.
A recent project in the inner-city suburb of Paddington in Sydney made a $340,000 profit on a $70,000 reno.
The two-bedroom apartment was looking old and dated, with exposed pipes, worn fittings, yellowed walls, dull floors and an old-fashioned, decrepit bathroom and kitchen.
‘I was pretty happy when I saw it, as I knew it was structurally sound.
It just needed a few clever cosmetic upgrades and a new bathroom and kitchen, which I always advise if the existing ones are outdated,’ says Jarn.
The client had the property valued at between $490,000 and $550,000 prior to renovation in August 2014.
With Jarn in charge, the entire renovation took one month to finish and eliminated time-consuming work and stress for the client.
Once everything was removed and the bathroom and kitchen gutted, the floors were cleaned, sanded and painted with a high-gloss varnish.
‘Make the most of the high-value features. Most people want timber floors, so really work with that element if you have it,’ advises Jarn.
‘A glossy finish gives it the wow factor to stand out as a positive to a prospective buyer.
‘Period features are always worth maintaining and highlighting, and if there are any views, work to bring the outside in, using mirrors and reflecting colours in soft furnishings.’
Here, the walls and windows were painted in Dulux Antique White and all the light fittings were replaced.
‘Consider the era of the home. In old buildings, you don’t have to go crazy with period detail, but references to the era really work.
‘We spent money on 1920s-style light fittings that are stand-out features and highlight the cornices. All this leads to a cohesive feeling that buyers respond to,’ says Jarn.
This kitchen had good bones but was more than ready for an upgrade
Ripping out the old
The kitchen was so old it needed to be fitted with all new cabinetry.
‘A kitchen is a major selling point. Save money by keeping the layout the same and not moving any plumbing or wiring, but spend on decent appliances,’ says Jarn.
‘In a small space like this, integrate as much as you can, like hiding the dishwasher behind cabinetry and using touch-open drawers and doors so the whole look is seamless and unfussy.’
In the original bathroom, floor to ceiling large-format tiles make the room look larger and warmer.
‘We kept the layout the same, except for moving the shower from the middle of the tub to the back wall. It was a relatively small cost for a big improvement, which is something to always be on the lookout for,’ says Jarn.
A floating vanity provides much-needed storage and adds a sense of spaciousness as does the fixed-glass shower screen.
Among other things this bathroom was in need of new tiles and storage space
Always keep a few simple guidelines in mind, says Jarn, and you’ll have buyers flocking to the door.
- Stick to neutral colours such as gumtree grey, white on white and light beige.
- Choose relevant light fittings, as lighting can really date a home. Invest in good-quality lights and you’ll see a dramatic difference.
- Go for plain and simple in the bathroom, but add neutral tonal colours to avoid a very clinical-looking finish.
- Think sleek and highly functional in the kitchen, with plenty of storage space.
- A pop of colour works well in a splashback in a high-shine finish like glass or tiles.
- Opt for a gloss finish on an existing timber floor to create a wow factor, or replace the flooring if necessary.
- Invest in staging the home for sale.
This dingy bedroom had prized period features but was in dire need of an overhaul
A gloss finish on timber floors were used to create an instant impact
Styling to sell
Real estate experts agree that an empty place is less attractive to buyers than a furnished home.
Styling, or staging, is a finishing touch that will add profit.
A consultant evaluates the space and talks to you about what you need for your home.
They work with the existing furniture and fill in where needed, or do a complete restyle with hired furniture that may include artwork and garden supplies.
Taking the area and market into account, the home is styled and furnished for the sale period.
This allows potential buyers to really see themselves living in the home and also produces great photographs that will attract maximum interest in the property.