Must-do repairs before selling your home

woman painting fence

RACV staff

Posted August 29, 2022

Making quick and affordable upgrades to your home can increase your sale value. Here’s where a real estate expert says to invest your time and money prior to putting your home up for sale. 

Whether you're planning to sell your home, or an investment property, spring might be the ideal time to capitalise on a busier property market.  

‘Spring sale season’ has traditionally been a more profitable time for sellers, as more buyers take advantage of the warmer weather to go to open homes, lawns and gardens look their best, and buyers look to settle into a new home before summer.

However, today’s buyers are more cautious and conducting more online research, and in a competitive market, minor defects could be the difference between selling your property for top dollar or leaving money on the table.  

Peter Kudelka from Kay Burton Real Estate says that while it’s difficult to completely future proof your home, knowing where to spend and where to save when it comes to repairs and upgrades before you put your home up for sale is key to appealing to a range of prospective buyers – and it is entirely possible to make your home look expensive on a budget

“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression,” he says. “There’s a fine balance between getting your home ready for sale and overcapitalising with upgrades that won’t see a return on investment.”  

“Things like installing a granite kitchen in a dated home on a busy street won’t see the best return but updating the bathroom can really help.”

So, when it comes to preparing your residential property for the spring sale season, keep it simple. Some repairs can be DIY, and some require professional assistance – but both can help drive the value of your property higher.

paint roller and brush next to paint tray and tape on linen cloth

Taking the time to update your home, such as fresh paint on the walls, can pay dividends. Image: Getty

How to prepare your home for a better sale price

Improve the street appeal of the property

If the house looks shabby from the outside, you may not even get buyers through the front door. Fortunately, this can be fixed without spending too much time or money.

Kudelka says if you’re not looking to spend big on major cosmetic improvements to sell your house, small visual improvements can still make a big difference.  

“The first thing people do is look at pictures and floor plans, and a lot of people will even just drive past,” he says. “Even extremely minor things such as mowing the lawn and pruning the garden can make a huge difference in terms of street appeal."

“You could also paint or varnish the front door or replace it if you have the cash, paint the fence, update the letterbox, clean the gutters, and add some plants around the entrance,” adds Kudelka.

For weatherboard or timber homes, a new coat of paint can really lift the façade. If you have a brick house that looks dated from the front, consider rendering or cladding options. 

Book a property inspection

The last thing you want to do when selling your home is make unnecessary investments. Beyond basic updates to street appeal, a property appraisal with a licensed real estate agent can give you guidance on where your money can be best spent in relation to your home. 

“Real estate agents look for things sellers might not,” says Kudelka. “We can help you decide whether budget is best poured into the kitchen, the living area, or the bathroom for example, because when you start putting money into some things, it can highlight other inadequacies.” 

real estate agent showing people through a home

Property agents can advise you on what buyers look for in a home to improve your chance of a profitable sale. Image: Getty

Paint the property and upgrade the flooring

Walls with flaky paint scream 'neglected', which is not a word you want buyers associating with your home – it’ll make them doubt the integrity of the property.

Kudelka says it’s wise to repair any superficial cracks and then paint the walls, cornices, skirting boards, door and window frames, and any other surface that won’t be compromised by a paint job (such as cabinetry).

“Older homes often have carpet or vinyl installed over floorboards” he says. “So, if you have that timber underneath, rip it up, sand the floors and add a coat of varnish. If you have a modern house with poor flooring, consider a cost-effective option like quality laminate, new carpet or tiling.” 

Get your plumbing and electrical checked

Some buyers will request a building inspection before shaking hands on a sale, so while plumbing and electrical checks and upgrades may seem like an unnecessary expense, it could be a false economy to not get them up to current standards.  

Kudelka says this doesn’t mean you have to spend big on smart wiring or state-of-the-art showerheads, but it’s important to make sure there’s no leaky pipes, blocked drains, unsafe power sockets or broken lights. When it comes to the kitchen, a cooktop in great working order is something buyers expect.  

“You really can update fixtures on a budget,” he says. “Things such as lighting, switches and tapware will improve the look of the interior a lot, and if you do have the money in the budget, a heated towel rack is a great spend.”

Remember, jobs like plumbing and electrical work should always be left to licensed professionals. 

Cosmetic upgrades to kitchen and bathroom

If you have a little extra budget to make improvements to your house for sale, the kitchen and bathroom are great choices for increasing value.  

Start with the kitchen and add in modern conveniences that buyers love, such as stylish benchtops and cabinetry, new appliances, and a quality cooktop

Kudelka says if you have space and budget for a quality dishwasher, that will be a plus.  

“In the bathroom, focus on the vanity, sink, tapware and showerhead,” he says. “These are the little touches that add a sense of modern luxury, which impresses buyers. Again, that could be the difference that sways a buyer to choose your property over another.”


kitchen with island bench and white benchtops

Cosmetic upgrades to the kitchen, such as new cabinetry, can add a lot of value to your home. Image: Getty

Don’t forget the small details and finishing touches

In the day leading up to inspections and the auction (if that’s your method of sale), Kudelka says there are a few finishing touches you can make to really increase sale potential.  

“Things like getting the windows cleaned, making sure you haven’t cooked pungent smelling food, and ensuring bathrooms are sparkling clean are minor things that make a big difference,” he says.  

Overall, poorly presented homes can drag down the value of the sale. If you ensure your home is tidy and modern, you have a much better chance of maximising your sale value during spring sale season. 

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