Top five improvements for stay-put homeowners

Home loans are hard to get – or at least a lot harder than they used to be, thanks to the new credit rules – and many existing homeowners who might have thought about upgrading are staying put now because they are worried they might not qualify for another home loan if they were to sell their property and try to buy another.

And this is putting a completely different complexion on home renovations and alterations, says Berry Everitt, MD of the Chas Everitt International property group.

“Whereasthose who are upgrading with the idea of increasing their home value prior to selling need to consider very carefully which ‘fixes’ are likely to deliver the best immediate return on expenditure, those with longer-term plans to stay put have more freedom to make changes that will also improve their own lifestyles.

“Of course, this doesn’t mean that they can go overboard and create a mansion in an area of starter homes which they could probably never sell for what they’ve spent on it, but it does mean that they can undertake some projects that might take a bit longer to become cost-effective.”

Writing in the latest Property Signposts newsletter, he says that, based on the consumer preferences the group is currently encountering, the five best home upgrade choices at the moment for both improving lifestyle and adding value in the longer term are:

  • Improved security measures. Install an alarm system or improve the existing one. Put in motion-sensor beams or outside lights. Upgrade your doors and garage doors – you will increase your peace of mind and the appeal of your home for potential buyers if ever you do decided to sell.
  • Improved energy efficiency. Add proper insulation, a solar geyser, a heat pump, a wind-turbine or even a rainwater tank and you won’t be sorry. You will reap the benefit for years to come in lower council bills and future buyers will love it.
  • Converted outbuilding. If you have staff quarters or even a garage that can be converted into a decent bachelor or one-bedroom flat with its own bathroom and kitchen facilities, don’t hesitate. You can rent the space to help pay your bond in the early years of home ownership and use it to accommodate teenagers, guests or a home-based business later on. And it will be a definite plus for any future buyers, especially if you’ve built a secure carport by then to replace the converted garage.
  • Additional bathroom. If you’ve settled in for at least the next five years, it’s really worth adding a second bathroom to a one-bathroom home - or a third bedroom to a two-bedroom home. These are bigger and more costly projects but they will make life much easier (no queues in the morning, no sibling squabbles over space) and add value that can definitely be recouped in the medium-term.
  • Home office or study. If you already have an unused bedroom or outbuilding that could be fitted up as an office, so much the better. But if not, it’s definitely worth creating a distinct and quiet workspace away from the living areas. It can double as a homework or media space for children if you like, and so many people are working from home these days that it is bound to have value for future buyers.

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