How to add value to your home before selling

Covering up bright decor with neutral shades is a quick and inexpensive way of boosting your property's value

If you're putting your house on the market, you want to achieve the best possible price – so before you call in a local estate agent for a property valuation, you should take a critical look at your home to see how you can add value to it. Buying a house is an emotive process, so you need to appeal to potential buyers' hearts as well as their heads. This needn't necessarily mean carrying out major home improvements. Even a lick of paint can have a significant impact – although in some cases getting the builders in could add more value to your home than it will cost.

When deciding whether major renovation work is likely to be profitable, consider the type of property you are selling, the area and the kind of buyer who is likely to be interested. Will they be looking for a "project" or would they be likely to pay a premium for a home in turnkey condition that needs no further work?

Here are 10 tips to increase your property's value before you sell.

1. Improve the kerb appeal

First impressions count: it's a cliché for a reason, and never more so than when an estate agent shows a prospective buyer to your front door. Make sure the garden and driveway are tidy and free of weeds, hedges are trimmed, the doorstep is swept (and tatty doormats replaced) and the door itself is smart, clean and freshly painted. One recent survey found that a blue front door is the most popular colour with buyers and could add as much as £4,000 to the value of a home, while brown was most likely to put people off. Even a tired uPVC door can be given a makeover if you use the right paint. Pots or window boxes of attractive plants or flowers can also help to add that vital kerb appeal and boost the value of your home.

2. Clean and declutter

Once they are inside the front door, make sure potential buyers can see the potential of your home's living space by ensuring it is neat, tidy and free from mess. Clutter doesn't only spoil first impressions of the interior, it can also give the impression that the property is short of storage space. See our guide to preparing your house for sale for more tips, including using professional home staging services to show a room in its best light. As well as tidying up, make sure everything is spotlessly clean and smells fresh – this is especially important if you have pets. Hiring a cleaner could more than pay for itself. Don't forget to clean windows too, both inside and out, as well as gutters and fascias.

3. Redecorate

Giving tired and grubby walls a fresh lick of paint is one of the most inexpensive and effective ways to add value to your home: for the price of some sandpaper, brushes and a few tins of emulsion you can make it look like new. If your interior design tastes run towards the more vibrant ends of the colour palette, it could pay to swap bright paint schemes or patterned wallpaper for more neutral shades: remember, most buyers will be looking for a blank canvas on which they can put their own stamp.

4. Turn bedrooms back into bedrooms

One of the main criteria buyers use when searching for properties, along with price, is number of bedrooms. So one of the best ways to add value to your home is to maximise that number. If you are currently using one or more bedrooms for something else – whether it's a play room, study or just for storing junk, turn it back into a bedroom and advertise it as such. Putting an inexpensive bed and furniture into a room will define the space and make it easier for buyers to picture it in use.

Of course, with the rise in home working, there is no harm in mentioning that you have been using a bedroom as a home office, or the fact that you have high-speed broadband on your street.

5. Focus on the kitchen and bathroom

Buyers place a lot of value on these rooms: one survey by Rightmove found that dirty kitchens and bathrooms are the number-one turnoff when viewing a property. Installing a brand new fitted kitchen or bathroom is unlikely to pay for itself – and in many cases buyers will want to replace these rooms themselves – but there are plenty of less expensive home improvements to be done here. If cabinets are looking worse for wear, replace or paint the doors, or even just replace the handles. Replace mouldy silicone sealant and grout, fix dripping taps and remove any stubborn limescale. Repainting walls or retiling are also fairly inexpensive ways to smarten up these rooms. Clearing away clutter should extend to the kitchen and bathroom, too: tidy countertops and consider investing in accessories such as a new kettle or smart shower curtain.

Coloured bathroom suites can also negatively affect the perceived value of your home, so if you have one, replacing it with a modern white equivalent could be a good idea: replacing fixtures in situ will cost less than remodelling the whole room.

6. Carry out minor repairs

Loose tiles, broken guttering and so on don't just spoil the look of your house, they will harm the property's value by making prospective buyers wonder if there are any more serious faults lurking beneath its fabric. Sort out minor and easily remedied problems such as these, but don't try to cover up anything major such as damp. It's better to be upfront about anything of this nature, rather than allowing buyers to get a nasty surprise from their surveyor later.

7. Improve energy efficiency

Rising energy prices and greater awareness of environmental issues can make energy efficiency more of a selling point. Consider improving insulation or replacing an old inefficient boiler. Upgrading windows to modern double glazing with a low U value will certainly improve your home's energy efficiency, but comes with a high price tag, which you are unlikely to recoup when selling.

8. Go open plan

Here we are starting to move into more serious work, for dedicated sellers. The trend for open-plan living space shows no sign of going away, and depending on the construction of your home, knocking through walls to create a larger room could add value. Non-loadbearing walls are obviously much cheaper to remove than structural ones, but it's vital to get professional advice before taking on such a project, and ensure that you obtain building control certification.

9. Add a bathroom – or even a bedroom

If you have the space, putting in an en-suite or even just a downstairs cloakroom can really add value to a property. A recent study by Direct Line home insurance suggested that an additional bathroom could add five per cent to the price, or about £12,000. Seventy per cent of estate agents agreed that it would make a property easier to sell, too. The study quoted the average cost of installing a bathroom as £4,500, although if you need to extend to create room, the bill will obviously be higher.

Going one stage further, adding an extra bedroom could boost the value of a house by as much as 15 per cent. Loft conversions are often the most cost-effective way of doing this, but you could also convert a garage or basement. Again, the economics of doing this will depend on local market conditions in your postcode and the type of buyer you want to attract. A good local estate agent should be able to offer tips and advice.

10. Highlight potential

If your house is ripe for an extension, or a garage or loft conversion, then rather than spending time and money doing the work before selling it could be worth the relatively small price of obtaining planning permission. This will let buyers know for certain what is possible, and should allow you to factor in at least part of that extra living space into the price. Planning permission applications in England currently cost £206 (plus the cost of any necessary drawings etc) and could add considerably more than that to the price you can achieve for your home.

If you don't get planning permission yourself, check whether the property may have previously had permission which had expired, or whether neighbouring houses have had plans approved. Doing your research and being able to tell

Remember that, subject to certain conditions, a single-storey extension or loft conversion can often be carried out without planning permission. In such cases it could still be worth getting plans drawn up to show the potential of the property.

Got your property in shape? Contact Movewise today to arrange an obligation-free valuation using the local estate agents best suited to sell your home.

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