Should you renovate before you sell?

Updated: Oct 27

It's not always as simple as deciding to do a renovation. In many cases we need to break it down and look at the following things:


What sections of the house need a renovation?


Would the unrenovated section/s of the house make the house less appealing to buyers?

Do we need a full renovation? Or could we just freshen those areas up?


The biggest thing we need to remember is to look at the return on investment. I also go by the rule- For every dollar, you spend you should be achieving at least 2 dollars back. If this isn’t the case then it may not be worth your while.



Although, in saying that, sometimes there are items in the house that need to be fixed before going to market. Things like a broken aircon unit, lights, leaning fences. Although you are not making the house look more attractive by updating these items, they are also vitally important when selling.


When a buyer sees a broken item, it is common for them to then look around the house for more faults or damage. The more faults they find the less money they will want to offer on the house and worst of all they may not offer at all which costs you in the long run.

Sometimes it's not the buyer who picks these faults but the building and pest inspector. If this is the case, the buyer may have already offered, you may have accepted their offer and then they will ask for a price reduction. We need to do everything we can to avoid this from happening.


When renovating we need to generally consider how to get the most bang for your buck?

While we cannot quantify exactly how much a renovation will add to your sale, plenty of anecdotal evidence suggests it's certainly worthwhile.


“The REA Property Seeker Survey (December 2020) found 84% of sellers undertook some kind of renovation before they sold. On top of that, two in three felt that the sales price increased, even after taking out the cost of the renovation”

If your home needs a full renovation, it can often make more sense to let the new buyer tackle this themselves, this way they can design and choose the theme of the renovation. There are lots of buyers out there ready to get stuck in and buy a blank canvas. Something to also consider is whether or not the home will be replaced at some point. The last thing you want to do is spend all your time and money on a full renovation if it’s the land that’s the valuable asset.


I often recommend smaller renovations to my clients, such as updating the flooring, paint, or light fittings. These items don’t have to break the bank but can make a huge difference.

If the house looks well-maintained and clear of your taste in feature wall colours then it can also present a blank slate for new buyers who can better picture themselves living in the house.

If you are looking at adding even more value you should look at adding functionality to the home. This could mean, converting a bedroom or adding more natural light through windows.

Two of the cost-effective and most popular renovations to be made by sellers when preparing to sell are:


Painting. A popular way of adding light and the illusion of space is to use a lighter shade of paint. There are many white shades available. My favourite right now is Natural White (Dulux) as it is clean and bright without looking too harsh or sterile.


Floors- Carpet would the cheaper option, however, laminate/Hybrid floors may be the preferred option (depending on your home- consider your options and budget)


My rule of thumb is to look at the home in general. If the majority of the home is renovated and there is one bathroom that needs an update, or everything is renovated apart from your kitchen, then it’s quite necessary to do a renovation on that room prior to putting your home on the market. - this way the whole property will be presented at the same level leaving no negativity for the buyer.


The kitchen and bathroom are two of the highest impact areas. They’re also the most expensive to renovate, however, if a potential buyer thinks they’re going to need to do a kitchen or bathroom renovation, they may ignore your home altogether. It’s about weighing up the necessity with the return.


If you are going to renovate your kitchen or bathroom you will need to look at the property market and your home in the marketplace.


What types of buyers will your home attract? What level of quality do they expect? Do you need a brand new reno or can you simply freshen up with a few aesthetic touches, like cabinet handles and splashbacks, or a new countertop? Make sure that whatever renovation you are carrying out, that you look at what impact that may have on other sections of the room. Taking out an old countertop may affect the splashback tiles. This may then also need an update. The biggest advice I can give is to plan carefully and ask an expert for their advice


Select your fixtures, fittings, tapware, etc carefully as there can be a huge difference in cost for these items. You can spend $150 on a tap or alternatively $2500. Of course, you need to budget and shop around for the best deals, but most importantly you need to purchase the products that fit with your home. If your home is already high-end with premium upgrades, the last thing you want to do is add a cheap bunnings tap and equally, you don’t need to buy a high-quality European tap if you are adding an Ikea kitchen.




Many buyers I meet get enthusiastic about a house that is naturally lit. Light is a huge factor when it comes to buying and your home is going to have a bigger impact if it looks light and airy.

However, this doesn’t mean you need to start knocking down walls and putting in skylights and new windows.


You may be able to create the illusion of more light and space by simply clearing out the clutter. Reducing bulky furniture and overcrowded zones will make a room feel airy. Cut back any trees and bushes in the garden that may deter natural light from filtering through.


Another cost-effective way of achieving a bright and airy feel could involve changing your window coverings. Outdated blinds or curtains can change the look of an entire room. Go for sheer light-coloured curtains or a simple shutter or roller blind.




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