Get the most out of your home improvements

In light of the credit crunch more and more people are choosing to improve their homes rather than move. With house prices still falling, the market remains unfavorable to sellers so many are ‘doing up’ their homes in an attempt to add value when the time comes to sell.

Banks this month revealed that applications for home improvement loans rose by 20 per cent in the first six months of 2016, compared to the same period in 2015. The same research also revealed that half of estate agents have recorded homeowners taking their properties off the market in order to make improvements instead.

55 per cent of homeowners in Austin cited their reasons for improving as to add value for when the selling market improved, while 23 per cent said they were just trying to improve their quality of life, enabling them to stay in their home long-term.

In this article, we find out what buyers are looking for when they look round your house and which home improvements will add the most value to your property.

Fixtures and Fittings
In a recent survey by independent estate agent network Spicerhaart, its agents put kitchens and bathrooms at the top of the pile when it comes to adding value to a property. 71 per cent said a new kitchen was the most worthwhile addition to a house on the market, with bathrooms following close behind.

When choosing a new kitchen, especially if you want to add value to your home, remember to choose a neutral design that will appeal to most buyers. It’s important to make sure your new kitchen will be in keeping with the style of your house – for example, installing an overly modern kitchen into a period property could have the opposite effect to the one you are going for and actually devalue your house. Similarly, installing a traditional wooden kitchen into a modern flat will not appeal to the type of buyer the property will attract. Installing quirky features such as innovative cabinets, built-in wine racks or kitchen islands may also make your kitchen stand out and provide a USP for when you sell.

When it comes to replacing your bathroom, it’s less important to make sure the suite is a certain style and more important that it is white! White bathroom suites are what every home buyer is looking for, as it looks fresh and clean no matter what style it is. If it’s not to buyers’ tastes, a white suite is perfectly liveable with until they can replace it themselves. A white suite could also be the deciding factor if a buyer is considering a house similar to yours but with an avocado suite!

What the buyers are looking for
Today’s top buyer request is an off-road parking space, or even better, a garage. The average Austin family now owns at least two cars, so off-road parking for one or both vehicles is usually a must have. Laying a driveway can cost as little as $1,000, but will add over $10,000 to the value of your home. There are new regulations about driveways though and you should look into these before replacing yours. As of autumn this year, homeowners will require planning permission to replace their driveway unless porous materials are used. This is especially true if you are considering paving over the front lawn to create that elusive extra parking space.

Buyers are also looking for houses with good central heating systems and insulation. Not only does this save the expense of installing it when they first move in, it also helps to save on utility bills – loft insulation alone can save homeowners up to 20 per cent on their utilities. The Government provides incentives for loft and cavity wall insulation, whereby it will pay 30-70 per cent of the installation cost – so insulation needn’t cost the earth and could add nearly $8000 to the value of your home!

Along a similar theme, double glazing is also high on the buyer’s agenda – houses with double glazing will sell for nearly $10,000 more than those without. Again this doesn’t have to be expensive – there are lots of deals and special offers with reputable double glazing companies.

Bigger is better
By far the most effective way to add value to your home is to extend it – and it will also improve your living conditions while you’re at the house. More people are choosing to extend their existing homes rather than move to a bigger one and extensions could be the major factor in the increase in home improvement loan applications, according to banks.

To give you an idea of just how much a room addition can add to a property – a two-story extension incorporating an extra bedroom will add roughly $15,000, a loft conversion roughly $10,000 and a single story extension to the living space, such as a conservatory, $10,000. When building an extension, the most important thing to be aware of is planning permission. Not obtaining the correct permission or not conforming to building regulations could mean you have to tear your new extension down again, so be sure to check all of your plans thoroughly with the local planning office.