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Renovations, improvements, expansions to a home… which of these really increase a property’s value? “Most areas have property price ceilings and there’s little to gain by extending and renovating your property beyond the norm for the area or street, says Samuel Seeff, chairman, Seeff Property Group. “And always take care to ensure your house is not the stand-out palace in the street – that can also be off-putting to buyers.”

Regional director and CEO, RE/MAX of Southern Africa Adrian Goslett, suggests sellers consult a property professional as well as doing homework. “It will take longer to sell if renovations enhance a property to a R2m price point in a suburb where the highest recorded sales price was closer to R1m. Find out about local market conditions and whether or not renovations will earn a return on the investment.”

Renovation cost vs. actual value added

Some renovations are extremely costly, and although often done to meet your own lifestyle needs, don’t assume you’ll be handsomely rewarded or even recoup your costs. There are always multiple factors at play.

Having said that, there are exceptions, says Seeff. “Smart renovations in high demand and high growth areas such as the Atlantic Seaboard or high demand nodes in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, can turn a good profit for smart investors.”

Maintenance comes first

Seeff considers the most important aspect to be a home in a good state of repair. “Before even thinking about adding on or renovating, make sure the property is in excellent condition. Buyers do not know what renovations and repairs cost, and they’ll always want to knock quite a bit off the asking price if they spot areas that need work.”

Goslett believes the better the condition of the home, the higher return a seller can expect. “Buyers will not need to factor in additional maintenance costs when deciding what to offer on a property. The most affordable and risk-free renovations, therefore, involve painting over scuff marks and chips, repainting discoloured ceilings, and restoring any other damaged fixtures in the home.”

What do buyers want?

“Most real-estate professionals will tell you many buyers hinge their purchasing decisions on the property’s kitchen and bathrooms. If you’re going to renovate, start here. Even a simple touch up and tidy up goes a long way to showcasing the key features within these rooms,” Goslett suggests. “Instead of demolishing entire rooms and embarking on costly renovation projects, sellers can sometimes achieve similar results by installing quality fittings such as faucets, handles, and light fixtures. These are simple and affordable renovations that can modernise and enhance the appeal of a property.”

Seeff agrees about kitchens and bathrooms. “And ensure your finishes are up-to-date. Keep colours and finishes neutral, and trendy finishes to a minimum.”

Slam dunk additions?

Seeff says South Africans love to entertain, so ensuring a good entertainment or braai area is always advisable, even if it’s just a balcony. Security is another important focus, and while upgrading adds value, don’t overdo it. He also considers a study or home office as a potential advantage, but says, “Make that room versatile – hobby room, studio, spare room – because not every buyer wants a study or home office.”

“It will take longer to sell if renovations enhance a property to a R2m price point in a suburb where the highest recorded sales price was closer to R1m” ADRIAN GOSLETT, CEO, RE/MAX OF SOUTHERN AFRICA