This one has been a long time coming! You see, our apartment building is always lively with renovations. No sooner than one house finishes revamping itself, than the next one begins. We live with the noise, dust and buzz of drills. Of course, nice to see how much more swanky the apartments look after they’ve replaced the flooring, given their kitchens and bathrooms a full makeover and so on.
The house opposite ours is one such. After the previous tenants moved out, it was vacant for a few months. Naturally, the homeowner planned to get it painted and perhaps sell it. The paint job was done, basic repairs carried out, and then, he put it up in the market. The price he quoted turned out to be too high and he also got some feedback on expectations for that price.
So guess what? They got going on renovating the house, this time in full force. They replaced the flooring with glossy tiles. They knocked down the kitchen and gave it a complete makeover. The bathrooms were next. Evidenced by the dust covering our place, we knew big things were going on.
Finally, months later, the job was done. And boy, does it look fab. And yes, the value is up-up-up now. The owner changed his mind and has rented it out for now.
I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t feel a little envy—what with us grappling with still cleaning our place and freaking out because another house on the floor below has started rebuilding their place. Sigh.
Investing in property is an exceptionally popular pastime. Of course, some people do it in order to create a property empire, however big or small. Others simply see it as a suitable retirement fund. In fact, this is the most popular category!
Once you’ve spent your hard earned money purchasing an investment property there are two questions you need to ask yourself:
- Am I going to rent this to generate funds?
- How to increase the value of my investment property?
The first question is usually a yes; after all, it does help to pay the mortgage and secure your future. The second allows you to have more security as well as a bigger retirement nest egg, and collect more rent!
So how do you boost the value of your investment property? A good starting point is to take care of any repairs and then think about making changes and improvements.
Quick tips to boost your property value:
I’ve written about curb appeal before. Naturally, people prefer to do a “drive-by” before they actually get to the front door of the house. They like to assess how the house looks and what the neighborhood is like. You might not be able to control your neighbors—in fact, you can’t—but you can make sure that the outside of your property is clean, low maintenance and welcoming. The better your property looks the easier it will be to charge higher rental prices or increase the sale value. So prune those trees or bushes, clear the debris so that they don’t obscure the view. Unkempt greenery can encourage mold which is unhealthy. While a driveway and a garage can help, they are not priority.
Next, consider what the prospective tenant or buyer will see when they open the front door. Did you know people make up their minds in the first few seconds of entering a house? When we were house-hunting all those years ago, I remember completely falling in love with a house just for its staircase design. The tiny house was expertly built in three levels with functional, yet attractive staircases and I could see how they had taken advantage of it as a dominant design feature. So yes, first impressions make a huge difference and like a bride, the house should look wow at first sight. And make sure the doorbell works! Is the front door protected from the rain? Imagine fumbling for your keys and steadily getting drenched! Ugh.
Before you even consider selling or renting, it goes without saying that regular maintenance is top of the list and will help to minimize the surprise bills you get for equipment failures or a leaking roof. They might not eliminate these things from happening but at least you will be prepared for them. Before any fancy upgrades, attend to the basics. Ask yourself:
- Are insulations intact?
- Plumbing leaks repaired?
- Septic system in excellent working order?
- Leaky windows fixed?
Keeping your property in the best condition by taking care of repairs will boost the chances of attracting renters/buyers, and increase your earning potential or the proceeds of any sale.
Moving through the house, it’s important that it has a modern feel. Traditional styles are great, but don’t generally improve the value of the property, especially in the city. After all, we want life to be efficient and that quaint geyser that breaks down often or is an energy hog won’t endear itself to the occupant. Make sure that all fixed appliances, cooking ranges, baths, showers, and other fixtures are modern and energy efficient. It’s surprising how much of a difference this can make to the modern home. So make sure that heating system, plumbing, electricity are all updated. Central air conditioning also makes sense as it does away with the need to switch window units in and out.
Kitchen and bathrooms
As much as we are charmed by old-fashioned kitchens and love to reminisce about how we grew up “those days”, a modern up to date kitchen is top of the list to boost your home value. Easy to maintain, equipped with energy-efficient appliances, a counter top that is easy to keep clean and cabinets are essentials. Granite and stainless steel work best.
For the bathrooms, an upgrade can be as simple as knocking off that clear see-through glass and replacing with frosted glass, cleaning the grouts and rust stains, applying fresh caulking, changing the doorknobs, replacing leaky faucets and installing a low-flush toilet. Why, even replacing the toilet seat can make a difference.
These days I am not a huge fan of attics but a house does need some storage, preferably out of sight. I remember after we moved into our current home almost a couple of decades ago, we marveled at the amount of storage space there was. In fact, one attic which we assumed was a small space turned out to be the size of the bathroom, as it was located above it. Now of course, I am not so thrilled because it is a clutter magnet. Still, people do need to store their personal possessions and adequate shelving/closet space is a must.
A fresh coat of paint is definitely a great way to upgrade, especially with non-toxic washable paint that protects the surface from wear and tear, and outside, from the elements. What about doors and windows? Check for those unattractive scratch marks and fix those. Luckily, these can be DIY and save tens of thousands. I once painted my entire 3BHK house because we couldn’t afford the ridiculously expensive labor charges.
Some of our neighbors have knocked out walls and eliminated the unnecessary kitchen island to open up the space in their houses. It makes complete sense—who doesn’t love a spacious home? Perhaps there’s a storage room that can be transformed into a study or extra bedroom. If there’s a basement, maybe it can become a family room to relax in.
Keep it simple, keep it stress free, and keep it green
Once upon a time, heavy curtains and thick pile carpets were considered posh. Not anymore. They are just dust magnets and involve a lot of maintenance. Who wouldn’t rather enjoy their living space with their friends than stress over keeping it clean? And keep it green with energy efficient doors and windows, and solar panels on the roof. Your wallet will be happy too.
Finally, I’d summarize that the best improvements that enhance your home’s value are the basic things like fixing a leaky roof and taking care of any structural and mechanical problems, clearing up any clutter and cleaning up the property before you make new additions.
What do you think?