Take a three-step approach

Simple things like removing clutter can vastly improve the appeal of a home, and the good news from experts is that making some simple updates can often be enough to get a buyer over the line.

Natasha Dickins, DIY specialist, renovator and owner of Little Red Industries, offers a three-step plan that could work for anything that is needing a bit of a refresh, whether you’re transforming a chair, a room or a house.

“The first step is to take away the one thing that doesn’t work, something that makes it feel dated or dysfunctional,” she says. “For example, it could be dark cupboards, so paint them lighter.

“The second is to add one thing to improve function. You might need to add a blind to improve privacy, or buy a light fitting to cover that bare bulb that’s been there for years.

“The third is to improve the experience. For instance have a look at the flooring or garden walkways and think what could make them look and function better. It might mean a new floor covering, or clearing and widening a path.”

DIY makeovers to get your home ready for sale

Getting your home ready for sale doesn’t mean you have to spend thousands on extensive renovations. Often just a few minor cosmetic touch ups and home upgrades are enough to boost your home’s appeal in potential buyers’ eyes.

Cut the clutter

Dickins says vendors need to look at their property through the eyes of house hunters, and a first step might be giving everything a good clean.

“Will they walk in and see it dark, gloomy and needing a lot of work, or will they see it as bright, clean, hygienic and ready to move straight into?” she says. “That first impression can also have a lot to do with clutter.

“Most Australians collect heaps of stuff in their daily lives and have lots of items with sentimental value. If you look into a room and remove a third of the stuff – that’s probably still not enough.”

Direct your focus

Kitchens and bathrooms sell homes because that’s where people spend most of their time. But if those spaces are looking a bit tired pre-sale, you can make upgrades without undertaking a full-scale renovation.

People often underestimate the costs of renovating a home and sometimes smaller aesthetic kitchen and/or bathroom upgrades are enough to get the price they are after.

Greville Pabst, chief executive officer and executive chairman of WBP Group, opens in new window, which specialises in property valuations and real estate marketing advice, recommends taking a minimalist approach to these rooms.

“Sometimes it’s just small cosmetic changes that are going to improve the aesthetics of your home,” he says. “You don’t need to spend a lot of money on structural items.”

Read our 7 tips for renovating on a tight budget for more home improvement ideas.

Bright ideas for the kitchen

When it comes to kitchens, look at the easy things first. For example, painting cupboards, walls and tiles can make a big difference without needing a big investment.

“Kitchen lighting is important, because you’re preparing food there and lighting above the bench tops is often overlooked,” says Pabst.

Tactical ideas for bathroom updates

Outdated tapware is something that can be easily replaced in both bathrooms and kitchens without huge outlay.

“You can replace old tapware with more modern designs; in fact it’s important to create an up-to-date look wherever possible. For instance you might replace the old cupboard fascias, and new handles and doorknobs can give a more marketable feel,” he says.

With bathrooms, buyers want them to look as spacious as possible. Bathroom clutter is a definite “no-no”.

“Often it’s superficial things that increase aesthetic appeal,” says Pabst. “The positioning of things like towel rails and toilet roll holders is important, and try to make sure there’s adequate storage because bathrooms have to be functional.”

Create street appeal

First impressions are vitally important. “Street appeal is critical,” says Pabst. “Remember you’re competing with lots of other vendors, so when a buyer’s car passes your property, you want them to stop, ring the agent and organise an inspection.”

Start with the basics – the front garden. “A garden that’s inviting and well maintained can make a massive difference. It doesn’t cost much to put in some plants, and you should trim overhanging branches because tree canopies can block sunlight.

“The driveways and paths to the house, and any exterior decks or verandas need to look well maintained. You also might have evening inspections when it’s dark, so inexpensive LEDs around the garden can have a big impact on buyers.”

First impressions count

You should also consider the impression you make when prospective buyers walk through the front door.

“When buyers open the door to the entrance or hallway you want a ‘wow’ factor. You can do that by simply pulling up old carpets and sanding and polishing the floorboards and giving the walls a fresh coat of paint.”

Both experts say vendors don’t have to spend lots of money on structural changes to give your property an edge on the competition. “The more you can do within the walls the better,” Pabst says.

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The information contained in this article is intended to be of a general nature only. It has been prepared without taking into account any person’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, NAB recommends that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. NAB recommends that you seek independent legal, financial and taxation advice before acting on any information in this article.