House restoration like the work done on this Queensland timber house can have huge resale benefits if done correctly.
House restoration like the work done on this Queensland timber house can have huge resale benefits if done correctly. Image: Canva.
  • Renewing and updating your house does not have to break the bank and often a few small touches can help add to the resale value.
  • The building crisis is putting the onus on established houses and owners can take advantage of a preference for built homes by carrying out renovations.
  • Mid-century modern, minimalist, coastal, the scandi-barn, and mixed-material homes are popular with buyers looking for move-in-ready homes.

Property buyers often look for potential in a house, and very often, your bargain fixer-upper doesn’t need a painstaking renovation, just a bit of a spruce-up to fetch a healthy resale price.

Maximising the value of your once-chic 70s pad or semi-retro 90s townhouse can be a simple case of applying a new colour scheme or getting some soil under your fingernails in the garden.

Kate Smith from Ray White Double Bay said that in today’s market, older homes hold a lot of appeal for time-poor buyers looking for a move-in-ready investment.

“Given the current building crisis, homes that have been renovated well are still delivering premium results and proving to be very popular as it allows buyers to move straight in with less long term planning and stress.”

Kate Smith, Ray White Double Bay

The satisfaction to be had by comparing old photos of your investment property’s weedy backyard with recent pics of an up-to-date, chic, outdoor space, complete with a fire pit and painstakingly sourced, original stone features is the stuff of many property owners’ dreams.

The good news for cash-strapped investors who want to add visual appeal, and value to their house is that renovation is not as hard, expensive, or even as time-consuming as it sounds.

Australia has an abundance of older, established homes and small updates can have a weighty bearing on their resale value.
Australia has an abundance of older, established homes and small updates can have a weighty bearing on their resale value. Image: Canva.

Director of sales at Upside Realty, James Kirkland, said that DIY enthusiasts don’t need to go full-bottle when planning that long overdue design update, small touches of class in the right places can provide the desired effect without them having to invest huge amounts of capital.

“You don’t want to be spending a lot on something that will be ripped out by the purchaser.

“Sometimes a quick fix will give you a much better return on your investment.”

James Kirkland, director of sales, Upside Realty

Plenty of Australians live in older, modernist houses that have particular appeal for buyers due to their low profile and less imposing style.

Houses built in the post-war period are experiencing somewhat of a renaissance, and well-restored Georgian terrace residences command very healthy prices in parts of Sydney and Melbourne.

If you have a little more vision – and spare time – house renovation can be an incredibly rewarding experience that allows you to get a good idea of the potential value of other established properties.

“Older homes tend to have less of an open-plan layout, so knocking out some walls to create a large living space and perhaps creating an extension to the existing home that opens out to a manicured backyard is a great blend of old and new,” said Smith.

Show your true house renovation colours

Personalisation can be a double-edged sword. What you find to be a relaxing, exciting or inviting colour scheme may send potential buyers running for the hills.

By the same token, an established house that has undergone a renovation long ago may feature an outdated colour scheme in desperate need of freshening up.

A bright new combination of shades can add vast visual appeal to an older house, and often, you can paint over quirky combinations of colour tones in strange places – like dark purple teenage bedrooms.

Potential buyers might be more inclined to splash out with a higher offer if the overall colour palette displays a more united design direction.

The value benefits of a kitchen repaint, in particular, are well-known amongst real estate agents.

“Kitchens are expensive to renovate but they’re the room that sells a house. If your kitchen is looking a little tired, consider freshening it up with paint,” said Kirkland,

Retro kitchens with unique features such as exposed beams can give a house renovation edge to an older property.
Retro kitchens with unique features such as exposed beams and a neutral colour palette can give your property an edge over the competition. Image: Canva.

Money can actually grow on trees

If kitchens sell houses, gardens attract buyer interest. For anyone who has attended a home open or auction, the power of a well-kept garden in deciding just how many offers are made on a property or how long it takes for the gavel to fall is pretty obvious.

Apart from the ability to provide an enticing prelude to your recently updated interior colour palette, the garden provides potential buyers with a good indication of how well an owner has maintained their property, which can have a hefty bearing on value.

In terms of visual impact, a green outdoor sanctuary can provide the perfect frame for exposed concrete or visually jarring brick frontages.

“Plants can also be used to offset harsher street frontages that have a lot of concrete or exposed brick as they soften hard edges,” said Kirkland.

House renovation can light the way to higher value

Ask any movie director or photographer worth their salt whether lighting is an important visual element and they will probably roll their eyes.

The warmer tones of tungsten lighting or brilliance of a well-placed fluorescent light can make a huge difference to the overall feel of a property; even if your home is being displayed in the middle of the day, most agents will turn on all the lights for the viewing period.

Even replacing a few fittings can transform your property and real estate investment veterans will often suggest that features in poor condition be updated.

Original light fittings can contribute to many buyers increasing their offers with a more positive assessment.

But, stay realistic when deciding what will make your property stand out from other houses on the market and do away with fittings and features that show too much wear and tear.

“If your natural light is lacking the next best thing is to ensure the artificial sources are pulling their weight,” said Kirkland.

Retro light fittings can form an important part of your house restoration and add a touch of class, just make sure original fittings are in good condition.
Retro light fittings can form an important part of your house renovation and add a touch of class, just make sure the original fittings are in good condition. Image: Canva.

High standards fetch high prices

Seasoned property investors will spot a poorly executed renovation very quickly, and as Australian agents know well, buyers are fickle when inspecting an established house.

The smallest detail can knock tens of thousands of dollars off an offer, and when jazzing up a property, especially in high-end areas like the trendy Double Bay in Sydney’s historic East, quality restoration work is essential.

“While it’s important to present the home in the best possible way, cheap and easy renovations are noticed by buyers and valuers.”

Kate Smith, Ray White Double Bay

“It is important to source quality materials as this means the renovation will last longer and will appeal to a bigger buyer pool,” added Smith.

There are usually plenty of reasons to make changes to your property, the most obvious of which is to increase the potential resale value. Established houses that have had quality renovation work carried out will almost always hold more appeal to potential buyers.

In an uncertain property market there is only one thing for sure, well-maintained and loved homes are sure to retain value far better than neglected residences. The current building crisis in Australia does nothing but compound this fact.

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