How to nail renovations and add value to your property before selling

Updated 21/05/2024
How to nail renovations and add value to your property before selling

Time to read : 4 Minutes

Whether you’re bursting at the seams and need to sell your home to move into a larger one, or you’re wanting to cash in and downsize your existing property, you’ll want to get the best price. 

So what can you do to add value to your existing property? 

I spoke to realty directors Peter Leipnik and Alexander George, from the award-winning Bradfield Badgerfox to get some insider hints and discovered two different approaches. 

  • One involves quick-ish fixes that won’t cost the earth – and may be useful if you’re putting your home on the market in the next three months. 

  • The other is bigger projects which may need a cash injection – and tend to be used by homeowners looking to sell in the next 6-12 months. 

Here’s what the real estate experts suggest to get your home market-ready – and remember, everybody’s property and financial situation is different, so always get professional advice before you embark on a full-scale reno.

Mini projects at a small price


One easy way to brighten up your home is by decluttering, says Peter: “It can be done in a weekend – or several, if you're a hoarder – and is a quick fix to make your property more attractive to potential buyers.”

  • Decluttering opens up the space in your home and gives an impression of having more room. 

  • It allows prospects to visualise their own furniture or belongings, like their sofa, artwork or plants, in the home. 

Be aware: when decluttering you’ll be forced to make some hard decisions fast about whether to keep some of your belongings or box them up. But that could also be an excuse for a good old garage sale to earn extra coin.

Freshen up your existing features

Getting your home ready for sale doesn’t have to cost the earth. Alexander recommends looking at your less appealing features and see if they can be freshened up. 

Carpets: now's the time to get rid of that wine stain that you’ve been promising yourself to do each time you’ve walked past it. Having your carpets steam cleaned will make them look as good as new and it’ll remove any odours. 

Floorboards: if your timber floors have seen better days, sanding and polishing them is a messy, smelly and expensive job. Alexander suggests you leave this decision to the new owners.  

“They may want to stain it a different colour, carpet over it or install underfloor heating – all of which would be best done when the property is vacant. For now, consider laying down a rug or two to add some character,” he says. 

Peeling paint: marks on walls and paint peeling on ceilings leave a bad impression. Yes, the new owners may want to change the existing colour scheme but there’s nothing quite like a quick lick of paint for an instant face lift. And if you still have some of the paint lying around from the original paint job then it’s a quick and easy fix. 

Cosmetic touches: living with a bathroom colour scheme from a bygone era? Think turquoise from the 60’s or dirty brown from the 70’s. Alexander’s suggestion is to paint them, not replace them. Nowadays we’re lucky to have a large range of colours formulated specifically for bathrooms and wet areas so they help deter mould from growing. It’s another cost-effective way to make a drab room look fab. 

Storage solutions: Consider installing storage such as floating shelves in the living areas or bedrooms. This also adds value as it shows the home comes with some storage solutions which could be an extra selling feature if the new owners want to rent out the property.

Bigger renovations with a larger price tag

Remodelling kitchens or bathrooms 

In Peter’s experience the age and quality of kitchens and bathrooms are by far the most harshly judged areas. “Renovating a kitchen or bathroom is an opportunity to add personality and individuality to the home through the finishes and fixtures you choose,” he says. 

If you’re not changing the pipes or plumbing they can be relatively straightforward spaces to renovate. It’s the structural work that adds to the cost of renovating these spaces. 

Top-of-the-line fittings and appliances can also blow out the costs. You can compromise by selecting mid-range lines – unless you really want to invest in the brand names. 

Create a master suite 

Master suites are high on buyer’s wish lists. If your property doesn’t have one, Peter believes – depending on the location – they can "increase the sale price dramatically" by adding one.

If you’re in a single storey house, you may be able to claim extra space by building up. Alternatively if there’s an adjoining spare room that doesn't get used, you could create an ensuite bathroom, walk-in-robe… or both if you have the space. Be aware: putting in an extension will require council approval and you can expect delays and the risk of cost blowouts in getting this project done and dusted. 

If you go with the adjoining room option, always consult a structural engineer before knocking out any walls.  

Lock up garage or carport 

Depending on where you’re located, adding parking – or extra parking – can add value. “If your property has no parking, then adding an off-street solution could really add extra dollars to your property’s overall value,” says Alexander. 

He also says there’s another benefit: it opens up the buyer pool as many people won’t consider a property without parking. 

Be aware: adding a carport or garage both require a Development Application (DA). If you’re going to go through this process, it may make more sense to opt for the lock-up garage. 

Outdoor zones 

Australians love the outdoors so, don't underestimate the power of a well-planned and beautifully manicured garden. 

Buyers are emotionally drawn to well-designed and decorated outdoor areas, which can lead to a higher sale price. 

Imagine a lush, sprawling garden with a sparkling pool, fire pit, pizza oven, or well-established trees. Alternatively, it can be a nicely thought out balcony with hardy plants in stunning pots, planter boxes with herbs or fruit trees – just a few ideas.  

Whether you’re selling a house or an apartment, think of clever ways to make the outdoor spaces inviting. 

Bottom line

When selling, there’s a lot of truth in the saying that you have to spend a dollar to make one. Ultimately the renovations or projects you decide on will boil down to how motivated you are, your finances and the timing of when you want to sell. 

If you do need to borrow for your home renovations, consider accessing your home equity before taking out a personal loan. You may pay less interest, and avoid doubling up on account fees.

If you’re not sure how to go about this, talk to our home loan specialists at Compare Club. 

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Disclaimer  The information contained on this web page is of general nature only and has been prepared without taking into consideration your objectives, needs and financial situation. You should check with a financial professional before making any decisions.