I’m thinking of selling my house but it needs quite a bit of work. How much work should I do before I put it on the market?
And do you think that I should focus on replacing the kitchen and bathroom first?
A kitchen can be one of the most important rooms to consider when selling a home
MailOnline’s Property expert Myra Butterworth replies: Buyers are often accused of lacking imagination, preferring a ‘done up’ home that they can move straight into over one that needs improving.
Given that the kitchen and bathroom are two of the most important rooms – and can easily look the most dated – it may seem obvious to tackle these first, replacing them if they are looking tired or old-fashioned.
But even if you go for fairly basic designs, replacing the kitchen and bathroom can still cost a lot of money. Adding a lick of paint to other rooms is more straightforward and can make a big difference but the kitchen and bathroom usually require greater investment.
It will also take time to source new units and appliances, then find a builder or tradesman to do the work – time during which your property could have been on the market. The question is whether you will make that money back when you sell your home, and whether it’s worth the hassle.
Jason Indranie, a local estate agent from Yopa, says: There isn’t a day that goes by when a vendor does not ask whether they should replace the kitchen or bathroom of their home before putting it on the market.
This is especially true of the kitchen, which is the hub of the house and the most important room. It’s where mum does the cooking while the children do their homework and where everyone congregates at a party.
But generally speaking, vendors should not bother replacing kitchens and bathrooms. Whichever one you choose may not be the one that Mr and Mrs Buyer will actually want. If this is the case, you will incur unnecessary time, cost and effort.
In some situations a new kitchen can even put buyers off. Vendors have gone to the expense and trouble of installing a new kitchen but the buyer doesn’t like it and hasn’t the heart to rip it out and replace it. They would rather buy a house with an older kitchen that they don’t feel so bad about replacing.
Generally speaking, vendors should not bother replacing kitchens and bathrooms
Vendors should also consider the state of the housing market. When there is a shortage of properties for sale and quite a few potential buyers around – as is the case at present – it is prudent to sell your home in its current condition in order to achieve market value.
When there is more housing stock on the market and fewer buyers, it may be worth tarting up the kitchen and bathroom.
There are other instances where we recommend that vendors fit new kitchens and bathrooms.
This would usually be where a similar house in that location has sold in fantastic order and to achieve a similar price to that property a new kitchen or bathroom may be necessary.
This is the best time of year to have your property on the market, so you don’t want to miss out on valuable selling time, whether you are having work done or not.
We find that savvy buyers will still view properties where work is in progress as they are trying to jump the queue, owing to the shortage of property for sale.
Replacing kitchens and bathrooms: what do you need to consider?
If you take the plunge and replace the kitchen and bathroom, don’t go overboard when it comes to luxuries such as décor, tiles and taps, which can end up costing quite a lot. It’s worth opting for simple, neutral, affordable quality and thinking about what might appeal to potential buyers, rather than making costly decisions based on personal taste.
Top-spec kitchens and bathrooms are a gamble. Try minimal improvements, such as replacing doors or handles on kitchen cupboards, and see how you get on.
Bathrooms can be bought fairly cheaply. Opt for a standard, white suite. If a dated bathroom is the only thing keeping the value of your property down, it is worth making a minimal investment for a better return.
If your budget is tight, attack the smaller things first. First impressions are very important so tackle the entrance. Hopefully, if you spend money here, the buyer’s eye won’t wander to other parts of the property that need improving. Don’t spend more than you have to – once you start, it makes everything else look worse so it can be hard to stop.