In contrast to expectations, the UK housing market experienced a mini-boom in 2020 after the first COVID-induced lockdown ended in May.
Thousands of homeowners rushed to put their homes up for sale in a bid to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday and move to a property that could accommodate their new lifestyle — essentially more time spent at home for both work and pleasure.
As a result, businesses selling home improvement supplies and DIY equipment saw their sales sky-rocket. But with rising unemployment and millions of employees surviving on 80 per cent of their full salaries under the government furlough scheme, many homeowners have a strict budget to stick to.
If you’re planning to sell your home, what are the best low-budget home improvements to invest in? Which changes will reap the most rewards in terms of speed of sale and the price achieved?
- Create a Home Office
It may not sound like a “low-budget” option, but tapping into the current demand for properties with a home office could have buyers clambering to make a winning offer on your home and it need not cost a fortune.
As we endure a third lockdown in the UK, the number of people working remotely is higher than ever before, and it’s a trend that looks set to continue long after COVID is under control. A home office or the space to create one is top of the list of “must-have” property features for many buyers. According to recent research, two-fifths of Britons would put space for a home office at the top of their list of priorities when house hunting.
If you have the space and the budget, convert a box room into a usable working area by adding a desk, chair and shelving. Consider adding extra power sockets and better lighting. Losing a bedroom to an office could negatively impact your home’s value, but making use of “dead space” is a great idea. It need not even be an entire room — perhaps there is space under the stairs that you can turn into a work area? You don’t need to spend thousands on an extension or garden studio; staging your property to demonstrate the potential for creating a usable workspace could be enough to sell the property to an interested buyer.
- Spruce up the Kitchen
The kitchen is the heart of the home for many families, so it’s not surprising that adding a wow factor to this room is one of the best ways to increase the value of a property. The average cost of a new kitchen in 2020 is around £6,000 and it will cost more than double this if you have a large room or very specific design ideas — hardly a low-budget option.
However, it is possible to add a little zing to your kitchen without incurring an eye-watering bill. Painting the walls and existing cabinets a fresh, on-trend colour can transform a tired and dated kitchen into an eye-catching feature. If a lick of paint isn’t going to do the job, consider replacing the cabinet doors with more modern styles — this is a much more economical option than replacing all the units yet can make a big difference. Painting or replacing a tiled splashback and adding extra lighting and powerpoints will also add appeal to an old kitchen.
Finally, give the room a good clean! You’ll be surprised what difference removing limescale from taps and scrubbing cabinet doors can make. Investing a little time and money into updating your kitchen is one of the most effective ways to achieve a quick house sale.
- Boost Your Home’s Kerb Appeal
When it comes to selling your home, first impressions count. Many homeowners neglect the exterior of their property, both during their ownership and when they decide to sell. Yet this is one of the quickest, easiest and most economical ways to improve your chances of selling.
Ask a friend to look at your home from the outside and feedback on potential areas for improvement — it can be hard to see these in your own property. Ensure that gardens are tidy and uncluttered — put bins and children’s toys out of sight — add a fresh coat of paint to walls and fencing, remove weeds from driveways and patios. These changes will cost very little but can make a dramatic improvement to your home’s appearance in photographs and videos — increasingly important as the world shifts to online sales — as well as during in-person viewings.
- Add Neutral Decor
You may love loud, retro 70s wallpaper and bright purple kitchen cabinets, but many people won’t. Replacing highly personalised decor with more neutral shades and designs will help a potential buyer to envision your property as their home.
Similarly, if your decor is neutral but hasn’t been touched in a decade, adding a fresh coat of paint and washing the curtains will make the property more sellable.
- Create Light Spaces
Homeowners often forget about the importance of good lighting when selling their property. Many buyers favour open-plan living with large, light and versatile spaces they can move freely in. If you’re on a tight budget, changing the layout of your home and adding space is probably beyond your means.
However, there are several low-cost ways to let the light into your home — swap heavy curtains for blinds or voile panels, add extra artificial lighting in dark areas such as floor lamps and swap low wattage bulbs for brighter versions. Before viewings, make sure that curtains are drawn and switch on all the lights. If you know the sun catches your property at a certain time, try to schedule viewings to fall in this window of time — it all helps!
- Add Power Points
This may seem like a trivial issue, but with the number of homeworkers on the rise, having easy access to power sockets throughout the home is becoming increasingly important for many buyers.
Remote working aside, technology plays a much greater role in most people’s lives, from mobile phones and big-screen TVs to tablets and home security systems, all of which need a power boost if not continually, then periodically recharge. Adding a few extra power sockets is typically straightforward and low-cost, yet it could put a healthy check against a potential buyer’s list of must-have features.
Home improvements can be time-consuming and expensive, but there are plenty of changes you can make to add value to your property and boost the chances of securing a sale. Consider the target market for your house — young professionals, families etc. — and make changes that will increase the appeal of your property to them. And don’t forget to tap into current buying trends — such as the desire for home office space — to help your home stand out amidst the sea of property ads online. A few well-spent pounds could deliver a healthy return on investment when the time comes to sell your house.
Disclosure: This is a partnered post