Do the work?
For some reason I have seen a lot of empty properties this week. All sorts as well, flats, bungalows and houses. These have been empty for a variety of reasons including people inheriting them, ex rental properties or elderly relatives going in to retirement homes. They have all differed in condition but most of them have needed some form of work from a basic clean and clear to a full refurbishment and modernisation programme.
The question I get asked most of all is whether it is worth doing the work? Or the fact that people have already made up their minds that they are going to do the work and what the house might be worth afterwards?
99 times out of a 100 I say to people that it is not worth bothering.
There are a lot of factors to take in to consideration of course and it obviously depends on the current state of the property, location, price and desirability but it is not usually worth people going to the time, expense and effort of carrying out major works to an empty property that you are going to sell.
The perception of a lot of people is that they will make more money if they carry out work to a dated property and this could well be the case but there are problems with this thinking. The idea may be to update the kitchen to more modern fixtures and fittings and this may cost £10,000 for example. Afterwards the property may well be worth £10,000 more or hopefully even more but don’t forget to take in to consideration the other costs incurred.
There could well be a delay in getting the builders in to do the updating work. Have you got holding costs on the property? These may include mortgage payments, council tax, utility bills and the like. It may be that the house in unencumbered (no mortgage) but what are you going to do with the cash when you get it. If you are going to invest the money, if you have to wait for 3 more months while you do the work how much income will you lose in that time. It is not just a simple equation of spending a few quid to make it back or make a profit.
What usually happens is the cost of works escalate it is always difficult to know when to stop. It may be that people think of just doing some basic decoration which seems easy (and cheap) enough. The walls are painted a bright neutral colour and even though it has taken a week or so they look great. The only problem is they now highlight how much the ceilings need doing and how dull the gloss paintwork is on the skirting boards, doors and surrounds so these all now need doing as does the balustrade and spindles on the staircase. After doing these the carpets have been damaged and you cant just do one as it will look odd so all the carpets and floor coverings need replacing. And because you are doing this should you replace the tiles in the bathroom or just put down cheap lino? If you do that should you just go for it and replace the whole bathroom suite because it is avocado or burgundy and you cant stand it. As I said, in most properties one job leads to another and the trick is to know when to stop.
That’s why in most cases it is not worth doing major works. That is not to say you have got off scott free. There is still plenty for yo to be getting on with. The minimum standard must be for a property to be clean and I don’t mean just a quick dust and hoover. It doesn’t matter how dated the fittings are as long as they are spotless people will happily move in to the property and live with them whilst deciding how they might want to update at a later point.
All personal belongings and clutter must be removed (you will be on first name terms with the guys at the tip). You may leave some of the big items of furniture like sofa’s beds and white goods. These can be useful for potential buyers to imagine their own furniture in a room or even to leave at the property to help them out temporarily if need be. A thorough deep clean including carpets can be really useful and things like light fittings and curtains can really help out buyers on their first few nights in a new home.
Gardens have to be dealt with as well. They have to be tidy and safe. Cut back that jungle, pressure wash the patio or decking and clear out the shed and garage. Make sure that people are able to park on the drive if need be and keep on top of all the junk mail so people don’t have to wade through it to enter the property.
It all sounds very basic but you would be surprised at the condition of some properties I have to sell. Like I said, usually you don’t have to go mad with modernisation or updating properties as I always go on (and on) about it is about presentation, presentation, presentation. An old fashioned property that is spotlessly clean can instantly give the impression that the house has been loved and looked after over the years whereas it is more likely that people will presume that an untidy and dirty house that is actually much more modern has not been looked after and can hide all types of more serious issues.