With house prices stalling and even falling, now is a good time to consider adding value to your home.
The key is to add maximum value without breaking the bank, so what are the prime cost-effective improvements you should consider?
We highlight ten ways to add value to your home and boost it's appeal.
Ten ways to maximise the value of your home
Some home improvements can be quite ambitious — and potentially quite expensive if they involve structural alterations.
Other tried and tested approaches cost very little.
It may be a good idea to speak to a local estate agent about prices and the health of the housing market in your area — they could advise you on the right kind of improvements to aim for.
1. Go open-plan
Starting with a major move, you could take down an internal wall to create an open-plan kitchen diner.
Most buyers favour this format, and research by the HomeOwners Alliance showed that although it might cost around £3,500, the changes could add £48,000 to the value of an average London property, or £27,000 to the equivalent home in Dorset.
Even if you’re not in the process of trying to sell right now, going open-plan will make your home a nicer place to be, with a great, usable communal space for everyone to enjoy.
It’s a pretty minimal-impact alteration too, that shouldn’t take more than about a week.
2. Do a kitchen makeover
Spend around £4,000 on attractive new worktops, doors, floor and fittings and you could make this key selling room much more appealing.
The Guild of Property Professionals calculates that you could easily add £15,0000 – £17,000 of value, depending on where you live.
3. Make room for an en suite
It’s another feature that has strong appeal for contemporary buyers, so it can be worth sacrificing some main bedroom space to create an en suite bathroom.
For an investment of about £5,000, you could potentially add triple this sum to your home’s value.
One option to create extra space and add value is with a loft conversion.
4. Create some priceless parking
How easy is it to park in your neighbourhood? If the answer is ‘not very’, then you could think about using some front garden space to create a secure, off-road area for cars.
Everyone likes to have a little green space, but parking is often at a premium, and a usable driveway might well add £10,000 to £13,000 in value to your house — it could be the difference between yes and no at sale time.
5. Freshen up the décor
Redecorating is one of the most cost-effective ways to make your home more attractive to buyers.
Simply by adding a few fresh coats of a neutral colour to your main rooms, you can make everything feel well cared for, bright and clean.
It seems like a minor change, but bright new paint has a positive sensory impact on even the most seasoned viewers — not to mention you and your family,
6. Repair minor defects
Superficial faults can add up. They might seem minor, but together can give an impression of neglect, which could put off potential buyers.
Never let damp take hold, because it will always show up on a survey.
Things to look out for and sort include peeling paint, grubby walls and doors — especially around handles and light switches — mouldy sealant and limescale in bathrooms and kitchens.
7. Do a declutter
Clean, tidy rooms, garages and gardens make a strong impression on house hunters. They’re also nicer to live with.
Concentrate on key rooms such as the kitchen and bathrooms — they make a big impact — and consider whether your main rooms contain too much furniture, as this can make them feel smaller.
Learn more about decluttering your home here.
8. Don’t forget the garden
Well-tended and organised outside space can make your whole home more desirable.
Starting at the front, make sure that the path to the main door is clear, and maybe consider a few decent pot plants.
If you have a back garden, then this can be a real asset when it comes to adding value.
Properly designed, it can feel like a real extension of the house — a place to relax or entertain.
Make sure borders and grass are well groomed, and cut back any trees or shrubs that might be blocking sunlight.
You might want to think about creating a dedicated seating area or terrace, decking, or even a garden office.
Features like this can help people to envisage themselves enjoying life at your property.
9. Keep it warm and bright
This is such a little detail, but it could make a difference.
When you know there’s a viewing of your home scheduled, make sure the heating comes on before buyers arrive.
Also switch on some key lighting, such as lamps in potentially gloomy corners. These moves can work wonders if it’s chilly or dark. Obviously, it would be great if everyone saw your property on a perfect sunny day, but that may not be possible.
10. That all-important first impression
The first point of contact with your property is likely to be the front door, so make the most of it.
You don’t necessarily need to replace it, but make sure it’s really clean or has a fresh coat of paint.
Shiny new door furniture could make a strong first impression too, so think about replacing the doorknob and house number or name where this is applicable.
There are many ways you can help your home shine through in a tougher market.
Some are simple and won’t cost much more than a tin of paint, while others will need some investment on your part.
To really add value, you need to target the details that matter to buyers of your type of property in your area, so have a chat with local estate agents before committing to any bigger changes.