Should I Renovate Before Selling?


There’s no denying that fully renovated properties sell quicker, and for more, than unrenovated ones. But, how much of a difference does a renovation really make? And is the time and expense of renovating before you sell really worth it?

Reasons to renovate before you sell

There are a number of reasons sellers choose to renovate before listing their property. These include:

  • Higher selling price: Generally speaking, renovated properties demand higher prices. As such, some sellers believe that, by updating their home, they can secure a higher sale price. These renovations will usually be done on a tight budget and mainly focus on improving how the property looks and feels.
  • Broadening the appeal: The majority of buyers are not looking to undertake a lot of work on a property before they move in. As such, being able to market your property as move in ready can significantly increase the interest in your home. These renovations will usually be focused on creating a highly marketable product that resonates with as many buyers as possible.
  • Speeding up the sales process: Unique properties may sit on the market longer as they require a specific buyer to fall in love with them. As such, owners of such properties often choose to remove any unusual or specialised features before they list for sale. These renovations will usually be focused on floor plan / layout and liveability, and use a neutral palette.
  • Attracting a local buyer: Some buyers may already live locally and want to stay in the area, but need more (or less!) space. After doing their research, a seller may choose to cater to these buyers, renovating their property accordingly. These renovations will usually be very well researched and heavily based on the expectations of local buyers.

Setting your renovation budget

When renovating before you sell, the budget will be one of your most important considerations. You want to make sure that any works you undertake increase the property’s value by more than they cost. Failing to carefully control this could see you over capitalising and actually losing money on the renovation.

You should also make sure that your budget is reasonable given the likely sale price. Try to find comparable properties in your area and work out the extra value different updates add. This should also give you a sense of the finishes buyers in your area expect in a renovated property.

You also need to be aware that there will be times when unrenovated properties are in much higher demand than renovated ones. This often happens when a market is strong (or booming!) and will mean it’s much better to sell your place as is.

If you believe a pre-sale renovation would be worth it, consider how much you can actually afford to spend. While you may be able to get a loan, there’s no guarantee that you will make all the money back. As such, it’s much better to work with what you can afford and focus your renovations on key problem areas.

Also, as renovations are notorious for running over-budget, it’s always best to be conservative in your plans. Invariably, there will be unexpected issues or unforeseen additional costs, so a financial buffer can help make sure you’re not left short.

Choosing what to renovate

Getting the greatest possible return from your renovation is all about carefully choosing where to invest your money. Unless you have a significant budget, a full renovation won’t be possible. It also probably won’t be needed as the majority of rooms will generally only require a minor refresh.

Conventional wisdom says that kitchens and bathrooms sell houses. While this remains largely true, these rooms are the most expensive to renovate. They are also highly personal spaces and the main areas buyers choose to renovate before they move in.

As such, don’t stress if your budget does not stretch to a full kitchen or bathroom update. Depending on the type and location of your property, making sure these spaces are presentable should be sufficient. There are also smaller, more cost-effective changes – like updating tapware and handles – which refresh the space without breaking the budget.

Other minor renovations you could consider include:

  • New flooring: This can make a big difference to how a room feels and there are many budget-friendly products available.
  • New lighting: Having energy efficient downlights installed throughout the property will make it feel significantly more modern.
  • Repainting: A fresh coat of paint is the ultimate pre-sale renovation trick. It makes spaces seem crisper and cleaner, and you may even be able to do the work yourself.
  • Creating street appeal: A welcoming façade is a major selling point. At a minimum, make sure the exterior paint is clean and in good condition and any garden areas are tidy.

Planning your renovation timeline

Once you know what you’re renovating, you need to arrange your schedule accordingly. While most minor works (like painting and updating flooring) can be done in a weekend, more major changes will take time. For example, if you’re completely overhauling your kitchen, this could take up to eight weeks.

This is particularly important to consider if you need to, or are planning to, sell by a certain date. If this is the case, you will need to plan back from that date, taking into account the expected sale and renovation timelines.

You also need to be aware that some renovation works will require planning permission. For example, if you are planning to extend the property, this will need to be approved by the local Council. This can add months to your schedule so you should seriously consider whether such works are really required.

Depending on the work you’re planning, you may also want to consider moving out of the property for a while. In addition to being more comfortable for you, this allows your trades to get the job completed quicker and likely will speed up the process. However, you should include your additional accommodation costs in your renovation budget calculations.

Need help deciding whether to renovate before you sell?

If you are planning to sell and are considering renovating before you list, give Local Agency Co. a call. Our team are experts in preparing properties for sale and can help you work out how much to spend, and where. We also know what buyers in your area are looking for and are always happy to offer design and styling advice.


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