This is a guest post.
For homeowners looking to sell their properties in the near future, the news continues to be glum for both buyers and sellers, although the latest report from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors suggests there might be a glimmer of hope. They show a small majority of estate agents reporting a rise in new instructions to sell in April 2011, alongside more surveyors reporting an increase in new buyer enquiries, although the market remains subdued.
However, many homeowners will be in a situation where their property is worth less than it was a couple of years ago, and in some cases perhaps less than the amount they bought it for. In these cases, looking to invest in improvements and renovations can, if done properly, increase the value of the home by significantly more than the expenditure.
When this is combined with the slowly increasing availability of advantageous remortgage rates, it often makes sense to look at remortgage deals as a way of releasing some extra funds that can then be spent on improving the home.
There are some jobs that can cost very little, yet immediately add substantial sums on the value of your home. For example, creating off-road parking, especially in areas where street parking is restricted and garages are unavailable, can cost a few hundred pounds, but add thousands. Good quality kitchen and bathroom upgrades are always worth investing in, and all buyers now look for central heating, so if you do not have it think about getting it fitted. Converting the loft is frequently cited as one of the most cost-efficient improvements you can make, especially if you add an en-suite as well as a bedroom. Adding extra bedrooms by other means – extension, or garage conversions – are often cost effective, but be mindful of local demand; a three-bedroom house in a very family oriented area would benefit from another bedroom, but if it is an area popular with retirees, it is unlikely to be in such demand.
Also keep in mind the overall balance of the property; it is not a good idea, for example, to add more bedrooms to a property that only has a tiny kitchen and living room. In this case, expanding to create a spacious kitchen diner would probably be more valuable.
Beware of poor DIY jobs. It can cost thousands to correct a failed DIY attempt, so always seek advice from a professional if in any doubt. There are also legal barriers to doing some types of work yourself; for example, gas appliances need to be fitted by registered engineers.
When looking to release cash for property improvements, always remember to look at the entire cost of the remortgage, including any early redemption fees or valuation charges, rather than just looking at the headline remortgage rate. If in any doubt, get some independent advice; the remortgage market moves very rapidly, so it is hard to ensure you are getting the best deal without help.