Home improvement sales in the United States topped US $538 billion in 2021 as homeowners spent more time and money than ever before on home renovation projects. (Source: Home improvement projects – statistics & facts. ) A trend that was mirrored in Cayman this past year, as the pandemic spurred a lot of home improvement projects, my own included!
Clients weighing up the pros and cons of selling their existing home often ask: “Jude, should I renovate my home instead?”. My reply is always, “What is the long term property plan for you and your family.”. Home renovations boil down to motivation, timeframe, and budget. What changes do you need in your existing property to fulfil your current needs, and how does it impact your long term plan?
It may make sense to undergo a significant home renovation in many cases. However, other times I will advise my clients to do a few simple things that make their homes more attractive to potential buyers when they are ready to sell. These are two different approaches, so let’s talk about the difference between them.
What is a home renovation?
When I say renovation, I’m talking about a big project. One that will require detailed planning, a scope of works, hiring contractors, shipping in supplies, and, more often than not, a significant amount of money.
And in my opinion, a renovation needs to be about making your home – more perfect for you. This is especially true if the location of your property suits your current needs, but there are changes that would make your lifestyle and enjoyment of your property that much better.
Perhaps you need a bit more space in your home, so you finish an unused area, reconfigure the layout, or put on an extension. Maybe you’ve been living in your home for twenty years, and the kitchen or bathroom are looking dated. Or perhaps it’s the floors that need to be replaced. A home renovation is about transforming your current space, a property you plan on staying in for several more years, into somewhere that caters to your needs.
From my experience, you will not recoup the full investment (time and money) you put into your home renovation when it comes to selling. Don’t get me wrong. Renovations can certainly increase your property value. But when we renovate, we make choices that represent our styles and tastes and ones that suit our needs. Home renovations are personal and not necessarily what the next buyer wants.
A full renovation is likely not for you if you are thinking about selling your home, especially within the next two years or so. If this is the case, and selling is the sole motivation for your renovation, I encourage you to reach out for advice. Find out what will move the needle on your home value and what won’t. There is no sense in injecting capital into your home that will not garner the return on investment you are looking for.
That is why my approach to home renovations is always: if you want to enjoy the property personally for yourself, to elevate your standard of living– then go for it! That is the perfect reason to renovate.
What is a home facelift?
Home “facelifts” are just like they sound, tweaks to the current aesthetic of your property. They are relatively simple, minor and inexpensive home improvements aimed at getting your home sold.
First impressions are everything. You’ve got 30 seconds to capture a buyer’s attention from the minute they set foot on your property. Spruce up your entryway and your gardens. Mow the lawn. Clean up the pathways and get rid of old, broken driveway tiles.
A fresh coat of paint works wonders. Identify any obvious trouble spots on the interior or exterior of your home.
On the inside of your home, replace any missing or broken light bulbs. Fix broken locks and handles. Address any leaky faucets or running toilets. These simple repairs let the potential buyer know you’ve cared for your home and kept it well maintained. Visible damage or run down finishings plant the seed of doubt. “What else has been neglected.”
Often forgotten is the importance of smell. Mould or mustiness is a huge turn off to potential buyers. We love our furry friends, but remember to make sure your home is free of pet odour and fur before showings.
In short, a facelift is the inexpensive, quick fixes you can do to your property to ensure you get the most for your home.
Timeline to sell
Your timeline to sell has a significant impact on the type of home renovations you should undertake. If you want to sell within the next six months to two years, I definitely recommend a facelift over a full renovation. But sometimes, if the home needs to be sold immediately and the upgrades required are just too extension, I might suggest listing it as-is, or I’ll provide a list of the bare minimum you need to do first. Whereas if you are looking to get another five to ten years in your current home, a more significant home renovation becomes appropriate.
Easy home renovation guide
My advice is to ask yourself the following questions:
- What is your property plan?
- Are you in the location you want to be in?
- Does what you want exist in the current market?
- What will the home renovations cost? And are you okay not recouping it in your sale?
- Are you comfortable living through these renovations and the potential stress?
Let the answers to these questions guide you in determining what type of home improvements are right for you. And feel free to reach out with questions. I’d be happy to discuss your property plan and provide input to maximize both your happiness at home and your return on investment.