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Making the most of your lettings investment

Pouring cash into home improvements offers no cast-iron guarantee that you will increase your home's value. Here’s our advice on the things that can make your house worth more.

If you’re like most homeowners, you’ve either thought about or have already made some home improvements. For some, this was the plan all along and they bought a house that was in need of some modernisation so they were able to buy below their budget and then put money into the upgrades they wanted. For others it is a way to increase the value of a home upon resale.

Whatever your reason for home improvements, there is a common misconception that you’ll get most or all of your investment back when it comes time to sell. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and you’re just as likely to get only some of that money back at resale. As a general rule, if you're going to make alterations, then do it because you want to for your own comfort or convenience, rather than to add value. And at the end of the day, many improvements should add to the saleability of your home, and make a big difference to the selling process. However, you may be better off moving house instead of upgrading to sell.

Three important things to think about before undertaking improvements are:

Ceiling Prices - A ceiling price is the maximum price a buyer will spend on a property in one street, before being able to find a similar property for the same money, in a better street.

Location - To make money selling property, it's better to start with the worst property in the best street rather than the best property in the worst street. Before deciding to make specific changes or repairs prior to resale, have a look around other homes in the area. Note the condition and amenities in those homes and compare to yours. Try not to fall into the trap of presuming your home is the best one available.

Mass Appeal – Don’t be tempted to do anything too outlandish in terms of design and finish if you are going to appeal to the mass market. House buyers can be a conservative bunch.

Typical projects that can add value to a property are:

Adding an extension - of all the ways to maximise the existing space in your home, adding an extension is probably the most ambitious, but it can also bring you the greatest rewards in terms of extra room and regaining what you've spent when you sell. The most cost effective way of creating extra floor space is converting the loft to create an extra bedroom and bathroom, which costs around half the price of an extension.

Adding a bathroom – this is usually a good investment, especially if it creates an en suite to the master bedroom. If you don’t have space for this, turn a roomy downstairs cloakroom into a wet room.

Updating the kitchen - this doesn't mean you need to buy designer appliances and tear out the cabinets, but a minor kitchen remodel might be a good investment. Sometimes, a fresh coat of paint or a change of doors on the cabinets and new appliances can give your kitchen an all-new look.

Adding off street parking – this can make a big difference to the value of a property, especially in an urban location where on street parking is restricted. For many buyers, a well designed, low maintenance drive is more valuable and appealing than a garden they never use.

Whatever improvements you plan to make, always have a contingency fund!

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