Number crunching is one of the less exciting parts of renovating – but unfortunately it’s also one of the most important. Whether you are turning over an investment property or renovating your home as a long-term nest for your family, it makes sense to know you are not overcapitalising and the money you are spending is adding value in the long-term. What’s more, the scope of the work can often determine the best type of finance you need to put in place.
This is the first part in a series about steps to take to ensure the hard work you put into your renovation pays off financially.
Know where you stand – valuations matter!
Start with the end in mind – is the work you are planning going to add more value to your property?
Even if you plan to stay in your home for the foreseeable future, it’s important the work you undertake not only improves your lifestyle, but that it’s work that actually adds to the value of the house and you know where you stand financially up front.
In my work as a broker, I always advise clients to get two valuations. Having your house valued by both a real estate agent and a registered valuer is one of the most beneficial steps you can take. It’s best to have valuations from both, because the two tend to look at property values differently. Real estate agents look forward to what people will pay in the future, while valuers look in the rear vision mirror at what people have already paid for similar properties.
Show them your plans and ask them what they think your property will be worth when the work is completed. A good rule of thumb with valuations from real estate agents and valuers is to work with a number somewhere in the middle of both estimations – agents tend to be optimistic and valuers conservative.
Once you have an idea of what your home is currently worth, what it’s estimated to be worth on completion and how much the work you are planning is actually going to cost, it will become apparent whether or not your renovation is going to add value.
Ask the real estate agent what buyers are looking for in your area and how your house compares. For example, if they tell you swimming pools are turning people off buying, you may need to reconsider your plans to install one, especially if your budget is going to be tight. It may make more sense to use your pool money to install another bathroom or an extra bedroom.
As well as obtaining professional valuations, make sure you do some legwork yourself. Go to as many open houses in your area as you can to get a feel for what’s on the market and how much it’s fetching.
Use your valuations to guide your design choices. If your house has already significantly increased in value thanks to its location, it is less likely you will spend more than the value you’ll add in the long-term and you would probably do well to upgrade the finishes you install. Look at the kitchens and bathrooms in similar houses that are on the market and use them as a guide as to what buyers are expecting. Similarly with floor plans and soft furnishings.
Your valuations can also steer you in the right direction when it comes to how you are going to finance the work. If you are planning a major renovation that’s going to add significantly to the value of your home, you may choose to leave more of the work in the hands of a builder and take out a construction loan that is paid directly to your contractor.
For a smaller DIY reno that is going to enhance your lifestyle more than the value of your home, a personal loan could be the way to go, while a renovation you plan to complete in a few stages may be best serviced by leveraging the value of your home as work progresses.
Arming yourself with a thorough knowledge of the market before you begin is a solid foundation for any reno, especially one that’s close to your heart!
— Paul is the Director of CVG Finance, a leading brokerage offering financial services across all areas.