A leading independent property consultancy with expertise covering a broad spectrum of property related services

Spend or save

Which home updates make financial sense before putting your house on the market and which are a waste of money? Sam Gibson investigates

There will be an inevitable pause in the housing market as we struggle to deal with the economic fallout from the current crisis. But the underlying trends in the property sector are strong and business confidence has been boosted by the fact that the lengthy period of Brexit uncertainty has been resolved. In the expectation that many of us will be able to put our home on the market in late Summer, which updates are worth the investment?

The Kitchen

Don’t rip out your kitchen and fit an entirely new one. This would be an expensive exercise and is not worth doing unless you are going to live in the house for another three or four years before listing it. The new owner may simply not like your designer Shaker-style cabinets or expensive limestone flooring. Purchasers enjoy putting their own stamp on their new house, particularly in the kitchen.

Do buy some good quality paint in one of this season’s colours – perhaps a dark blue or chalky grey – and repaint the cabinets (you are likely to be able to find the time at the moment), with the addition of new handles if the existing handles are dated or chipped. This will instantly transform and revitalise the kitchen.

The Bedrooms

Don’t spend a fortune refurbishing the master and other bedrooms with the latest furnishings and window dressings. It is unlikely that these will be suitable for use in your next property, and they will not add value to the house in terms of its sale price.

Do invest in new carpets. This applies to all the bedrooms and the stairs – usually the most worn carpet in the house. It is better to choose a single fitted carpet for use throughout all of the upstairs and the staircase to give a sense of continuity. New carpets provide an instant update at a relatively low cost.

The Bathroom

Don’t throw away your entire bathroom suite and install a new bath, shower, sink, tiles, the works. This is unlikely to add value to your home and styles change regularly – even the seemingly neutral option can date a bathroom to a specific point in time – we all remember (and some still have) the avocado suite!

Do consider small fixes that can be achieved to update the look and freshen the scheme. This could be painting the tiles, changing the bathroom mirror and taps, thinking about a new towel radiator or brushed steel light switches. Any damaged or mouldy grout or tiles must be replaced. New fluffy bath towels give a welcoming feel.

Garden and Grounds

Don’t install a quirky feature in the garden that suits your lifestyle as it is unlikely to add value to the property and may not be a draw for the new owner. Save it for the next house. A built-in barbecue, a hot tub or an outdoor pizza oven are all costly additions but not necessarily everyone’s idea of heaven.

Do make sure that the garden is tidy and well-maintained. Trim hedges, weed and replant the borders, remembering that a judicious application of mulch can hide a multitude of sins. Paint or treat any wooden sheds, fences or garden benches to restore their appearance. The front driveway needs to be weed-free and it is always worth spending money on new gravel to create a good first impression. Edging the lawn always makes a pleasing difference.

Exterior Updates

Don’t make major changes to the exterior unless there is an identified problem. It doesn’t make financial sense to reroof the property or re-plaster exterior walls unless these require immediate remedial action.

Do install new windows if you have poor quality double-glazed windows or any misted panes. Viewers are put off by damaged windows and their perception is that it will cost a fortune to buy new ones and they worry they have to replace them all. In fact, it is relatively inexpensive to replace the windows, given the overall cost of the house. A nice view is a major asset, so it is worth maximising its appeal.

Other considerations

If you have planning permission in place to add an extension or convert a building in the grounds for residential use, it is worth commissioning computer-generated images to enable viewers to understand the end result. Not everyone has the vision to appreciate how much better the house will look with a new conservatory, or the potential of a restored cottage. As your agents, we can use these images to great effect in the marketing materials for the property from day one, and in the online listing.

Equally, if you have a ‘problem area’ in your house that you have never resolved – for example a bedroom that is only accessible through another bedroom, it is worth preparing plans to show potential purchasers how straightforward it would be to grant access to that room by creating a corridor. This will help the viewer to appreciate the potential of your property and such plans can be made available at viewings. It may also be worth carrying out the work yourself. Installing a stud wall and new entrance to a bedroom should not be prohibitively expensive and will widen the pool of buyers who are interested in viewing the property.


Our registered buyers are all looking forward to getting going again as soon as the restrictions are lifted but whilst we wait out this indefinite time delay, these ideas may help you make a few decisions. Hopefully this will prompt a few queries which we will be delighted to try to answer for you.