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This is a good time to look critically at your home and see what you can do to up its wow factor, even if you’re not thinking of selling – but beware the danger of over-capitalising

Many homeowners have been blessed with time on their hands over this lockdown period to engage in some home improvement, and with finances tight and until now only essential businesses permitted to operate, these upgrades are taking the form of DIY.

Unless they have specific nag areas that they want to renovate, though, they might be unsure where to start. Even those who have no intention of selling in the near future will do well to bear in mind the main areas of appeal and value for buyers.

Homeowners should concentrate funds and attention on improving their property’s wow factor and functionality but avoid the trap of over-capitalising where the investment won’t be recovered, advises Steve Thomas, secure estate specialist for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Cape Town.

“In other words, just because you’re thinking of selling, definitely don’t rush out and sink thousands upon thousands into every improvement project you’ve dreamt of but put off for the past decade.

“New owners often buy homes in order to make changes that personalise spaces according to their own vision, which might not match the dreams you’ve had for your property. All that investment you’ve made in those lastminute projects could therefore end up being wasted expenditure.”

Picture: Erika Wittlieb

Echoing this, Lyndsay Child, a residential agent for Knight Frank in Rondebosch, says she never recommends a major spend on any property as buyers will want to make their own changes.

“Rather adjust the property price downward to move the property quickly so that each buyer can incorporate their own taste in the changes. If a particular area is really not acceptable then an upgrade would be advisable, but within a reasonable budget, remembering that major renovation costs take a while to recoup.”

Thomas says DIYers should focus on the essentials first, such as:

◆ Fixing a broken gate

◆ Painting the front door and other areas of the home that need it

◆ Replacing broken tiles on paths, patios and in the bathrooms

◆ Replacing cracked window glass

◆ Repairing or replacing broken cupboard hinges and handles and dripping taps.

It is also a good idea to take a critical look at your property from the street, and if necessary, smarten up fences and front walls.

“Don’t forget to update old or broken house numbers, as well as ensure that the intercom system is working. Also check your property’s security system and, if necessary, replace faulty sensors or add more to cover blind spots,” he says.

Everyone is becoming more energy-savvy so making the home more energy-efficient can make a big difference when selling, says Mike Greeff, chief executive of Greeff Christie’s International Real Estate.

“Although it’s costly, this is a certain return on investment… As the number of energy-efficient homes continues to rise, first-time buyers and tenants are starting to favour these upgraded homes over traditional homes due to the potential long-term savings.”

Some energy-saving measures he advises include:

  • Ceiling insulation to reduce the energy needed to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.
  • Geyser blankets.
  • Lighting systems including compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) that can reduce power consumption by up to 75% or LEDs which are the latest saving energy light globes and last up to 100 times longer than normal globes.
  • Solar water heater.
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