Keep renovations in step with the prevailing trends in the area.
Every family’s needs and their homes are different, so there is not a blanket rule about when homeowners should renovate or should move instead.
In general, some issues make one or the other decision unrealistic, says Adrian Goslett of Re/Max. For example, no amount of renovations will be able to solve the problem of living too far from your workplace or being outside your preferred school district.
“Likewise, buying a new home when you already live in a neighbourhood you love seems like an extreme decision if the property can easily be adapted to suit the needs of both you and your family.”
The most common reasons why homeowners choose to remain in their current homes are sentimental value and the amount of admin that comes with moving.
“Purchasing a new home means uprooting your whole life, packing it into boxes, and starting again. Many try to avoid this if possible,” Goslett says. Interestingly, when homeowners decide to move instead of renovating, he says it is usually for the “exact opposite reason”.
“Relocating offers a fresh start, a blank book with empty pages waiting to be filled with new adventures. Many homeowners want to escape the memories of the frustrations with which their home furnished them for all the months or years they were there.”
A growing family or change in lifestyle needs is usually motivation for extending or revamping your home, and “is always a great idea” as a home should be a place of refuge, says Seeff’s Samuel Seeff.
“For example, if you enjoy outdoor entertainment, it makes sense to kit out your patio with a roofed area with outdoor living space where you can put couches and perhaps a dining area with braai facilities.
“Or, perhaps you are into yoga or fitness, so it makes sense to build your own yoga studio or gym. Perhaps you are an artist so an art studio would be a great lifestyle addition to your home,” says Seeff.
“Having older children or elderly parents may necessitate converting and extending an area to create a flat which can later be rented out or used as an Airbnb option.”
However, while improvements and extensions are often done to meet a family’s lifestyle needs, he cautions homeowners to remember there may come a time when they need or want to sell, so they should keep their renovations in step with the prevailing trends in their area.
“Often agents are called in to list a property at a much higher price than the current market, based on lavish or elaborate renovations. You often find these properties sit on the market for long periods.
“On the other hand, smart renovations in high demand and high-growth areas, such as the Atlantic seaboard or high-demand nodes in the southern suburbs, can turn a good profit for smart investors.”
The first nine months of 2018 have seen a “noticeable weakening” in home maintenance and upgrades, the latest FNB Estate Agent Survey has shown. Measuring the level of upgrade and maintenance in five categories, FNB’s John Loos says the survey reveals:
- Owners investing in improvements and value-adding upgrades to their homes: This has weakened from 16% in the second quarter to 11% in the third.
- Owners maintaining their homes: There has been a mild decline from 42% in the second quarter to 40% in the third.
- Owners not spending much on improvements but still maintaining their homes: Survey levels were at 33.5% in the third quarter, up from 30% in the second quarter.
- Owners attending to basic maintenance: This saw a slight increase from 12% in the second quarter to 14%.
- Owners letting their homes get run down: This rose from 1% in the second quarter to 2% in the third quarter.
Alter for maximum returns
Homeowners looking to maximise renovation budgets for better returns when selling should consider high-return areas, says Rhys Dyer, chief executive of bond originator Ooba.
Kitchen: Money can be saved by using flat-pack cupboards. Replacing old doorknobs, cupboard handles, tap fittings and ceiling lights are good for a low-cost revamp.
Bathroom: Dyer says: “If you can fit a bathtub, do so. Don’t install tiny or square baths. Put in a shower instead.”
Roof: Extending upwards is an easy way to gain an extra bedroom and/or bathroom.
Pool: Before taking the plunge, keep an eye on the local market. “If your area is more popular with retirees, a pool could seem like hard work.”