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Putting a few dollars into a renovation can add significant value to a home – just watch an episode of The Block and see how much difference a few thousand dollars makes!

But where should you focus your spending? What needs more attention? Which areas aren’t as important? Here are our picks and pointers.

Renovating to sell: Where to spend your renovation dollars

When looking to sell a home, renovations are a sure-fire way of boosting its value. Dollar for dollar, the return on investment can be many multiples of what you put in.

But renovating isn’t just a matter of putting some money aside and randomly applying paint or replacing carpets. According to many years of statistics and market performance, there are definite winners and losers when it comes to choosing what to renovate.

Raising your home’s value by renovating comes down to one thing: smart choices. To help you put your money in the right place, here’s our list of picks and recommendations.

But before we get started, let’s get one thing straight. When renovating, your personal taste comes very low on the list of what’s important. First and foremost, you should be thinking about what will help you achieve the best returns. In most cases, this means erring on the side of caution and going for neutrality and functionality before glitz and glamour.

  1. Start with the kitchen and bathrooms

Kitchens and bathrooms aren’t the most glamorous areas of a home, but time and again they prove to offer the best returns.

Most people spend the majority of their home-time in the kitchen, and even the smallest of changes can make a huge difference to the perceived value of your home come inspection day.

One of our recent clients did nothing to their kitchen except add a modern glass splashback and new knobs on the cabinetry, and the reactions of prospective buyers went from indifferent to hugely impressed. It’s the little things that count.

Going up the scale, you could replace dated appliances, or for more impact you might consider redoing the bench-tops and cupboards – but remember not to get too carried away or you might blow your whole budget before looking at the rest of the home.

In the bathrooms, replacing shower curtains with screens is a simple yet effective value-booster. Old-fashioned vanities are also best replaced, but be careful about re-tiling or re-plumbing, as these can eat up your budget in no time.

In reality, most buyers aren’t going to care about your expensive tiles, tap ware or stovetop. They just want something tidy, modern and functional.

  1. Keep the lounge and living area simple

Like we’ve already mentioned, taste is a fickle thing. You might love that orange feature wall, but it’s unlikely that your prospective buyer will.

Living areas just need to be open and airy, with good access to the kitchen or dining area, as well as outdoor entertaining spaces. Don’t install weird bookshelves or entertainment recesses – at the very most, all you’re going to need is a refreshed floor or lick of wall paint. Which leads us to…

  1. Be careful about interior painting

Watch any cheesy renovation montage on TV and there’s always a shot of people painting walls and flicking paint at each other. It resonates with viewers because most of us equate ‘renovating’ with ‘new wall colour’.

So, should you paint the walls as part of your renovation? It depends, but probably not.

Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes. They’re going to want to choose their own colours, but then again, if you’ve chosen nice, neutral colours throughout then they might just keep it.

  1. Your floors could be hiding a beautiful secret

Floors aren’t as risky as interior painting. We recommend considering changing your flooring, especially if you have old carpet making the place look drab. Even if your carpet doesn’t look that bad, pull up a corner somewhere to check if you have beautiful wood hidden underneath.

If not, the advent of engineered flooring and other low-cost options has made it possible to make a big difference without spending too much.

Our big piece of advice with floors and walls is that DIY rarely works. If you’re serious about raising the value of your home, get the work done professionally. Buyers will be looking at details like corners and skirting boards – don’t give buyers a reason to doubt the quality of the workmanship.


  1. Don’t pave over your garden – just tidy it up

Just because they do it on TV doesn’t make it right.

Paved gardens are hot, dull, and not very kid-friendly. Remember – you want to appeal to a broad cross-section of buyers, and having no grass isn’t going to help your chances.

People want a manageable yard that looks OK from the street and offers a little space for personalisation. Buy some new mulch and de-weed any lawn or plant beds. Trim bushes and dead leaves, but don’t go overboard with pulling out shrubs.

  1. Exterior touch-ups drive kerb appeal

You’ve probably heard this a million times before, but the exterior of your home is always going to dictate your buyer’s judgement of the rest of the house.

First impressions count, and trying to make a better one doesn’t cost as much as you might think. Why? Because you don’t necessarily have to repaint the whole exterior or re-roof it.

Get a quote from a house washer before thinking about painting or re-roofing. Taking the dirt off can sometimes be enough, but if you really want to impress a buyer, think about a roof restoration or replacement.

A lot of practical-minded buyers will look at a good roof and calculate the number of years they won’t need to worry about attending to it.

  1. Does the buyer only want the land?

If you think someone only wants your land and not the house on it, you might not even have to bother doing any renovations. This is a hard call to make, but if your real estate agent tells you that the land is the selling point, then you might be able to save yourself a few dollars and just make sure the land presents itself nicely.

On the other hand, your buyer might want to renovate the place themselves, so it might be a good idea to perform structural checks and preparations to make the building more attractive to the next occupant.

Most people are going to look at your home as a blank canvas and try to imagine themselves in it. This is why you need to keep any renovations or modifications as neutral and customer-friendly as possible, which is also good news for your bank account!

So remember to keep things simple, and to put yourself in your buyer’s shoes when considering renovating.

If you have any questions or would like some advice on a renovation you’re planning, feel free to give us at Hicks Real Estate a call on 07 3355 6845.

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Hicks Real Estate is a Brisbane based, full-service real estate agency supporting buyers and sell as well as renters and property investors. With almost 20 years experience in the local market, we are the real estate experts you can rely upon.