Whether you’ve got an imminent sale on your mind, a not-to-distant future sale, or like knowing you’re adding value to your home when renovating, a bit of insider knowledge can really help. The First National Real Estate team have seen a property or two in their time and developed a good feel for what makes buyers tick and what ticks them off. So, we’ve drawn from this extensive knowledge pool to guide you on where to place the focus when renovating to captivate and added a few other expert tips along the way. Here’s how to get started.


Plan for the best outcome

It might sound old hat, but it’s essential to formulate a solid plan before you strap on a toolbelt or shimmy into your painting overalls. And a comprehensive renovation plan you’ll need. At the very least, outline your goals, budget, and timeline. A well-thought-out plan will help you stay organised and on track – we all know how easy it is for renovations to get derailed!


First impressions that count

Studies have shown that humans take, on average, just seven seconds to form a first impression – and in the real estate world, those seven seconds will have started before they even set foot in your home! And for that reason, amping up your curb appeal is the smartest and arguably the most crucial first step in any renovation. Start by checking if your front fence could do with a wash or fresh lick of paint, tidy up the gardens, give your front door a once over, and sub out the old worn doormat for a welcoming new one.

Front elevation of a new modern Australian style home.


Death to dead spaces

While ticking off every item on a buyer’s ‘must-have’ list is a never-ending challenge, take a close look at any spaces in your home that aren’t currently serving a purpose or could be put to better use. Some common value add transformations are:

  • Home office – remote working is still a reality for many. Is there an unused nook or landing that could function as a work-from-home space?
  • Smart storage – having a well-organised, clutter-free space is a priority for many; look at how well wardrobes and pantries are functioning and consider adding modular storage solutions to boost functionality and appeal.
  • Home gym – having a workout space within a home is a huge bonus; look to areas like garages, basements, or attics to carve out a dedicated workout zone.


Rooms that wow

Not all rooms are valued equally through a buyer’s eyes, and while some of it does come down to personal preference, here’s where you’ll get the most bang for your reno buck:

  1. Coveted kitchens – often considered the heart of the home and often with a reputation for making or breaking a sale, this is the single best room in the house to place your focus (and dollars). Think about simple things you can do to modernise your kitchen, like replacing a dated splashback with some fresh tiles, updating or adding open shelving, changing lighting, reworking your pantry, or even painting the cabinets and bench top. A modern, functional kitchen can significantly increase your home’s value too.

Kitchen in new luxury with waterfall island.


  1. Make room for living – second only to the kitchen, the living or family room is where households spend most of their time. It’s where people gather, entertain, and relax, so the space needs to reflect this. A light, airy feel is favoured by many, so check how you’re embracing natural light; switch out any dark heavy drapes for beautiful, light-diffusing linen ones, and consider investing in some floor lamps for added ambience. Decluttering and adding fresh furnishings like rugs, cushions, and throws will open up the space and make it more inviting.


  1. Beautiful bathrooms – perhaps one of the hardest working rooms in the house, worth investing in freshening up (or completely renovating) is your bathroom. A clean, modern bathroom with good lighting and storage is not only a pleasure to use but also to look at. If a full-scale renovation isn’t on the cards, consider changing out outdated fixtures, giving the grout a good scrub (or paint), and adding some fresh accessories like a bathroom-loving houseplant and a new set of towels.

Bright elegant bathroom interior in a luxury house.


  1. Master the bedroom – often seen as the sanctuary of the home, a spacious, well-designed master bedroom appeals to all types of buyers. Ideally, with an ensuite and walk-in robe accounted for, check that your master invokes a sense of calm and is free of clutter. Soft, nature-inspired palettes or soothing pastels work well in bedrooms – this can be incorporated through paint, bedding or furniture like bedside tables and artwork.


  1. Outdoors at yoursoutdoor living space can extend the ‘living’ footprint of a home considerably. Consider clever ways to highlight and maximise this for maximum appeal, and don’t forget to style it right.


  1. New room wins – are there walls in your home that could be removed to open up your spaces or even added to create additional space? Investigate separated lounges, kitchens or dining areas that could potentially be amalgamated or oversized wardrobes that could be transformed into compact ensuites.


Added value

Finally, these are some nice-to-haves that can add value to your home and make it more liveable, loveable, and saleable:

  • Energy-wise – things like insulation, lighting and fixtures that are energy efficient spell long-term savings on bills for future homeowners.
  • Fabulous floors – replace worn-out carpets with hardwood, laminate, or tile flooring. And in older homes, peek under the carpet, and you might even find hardwood ripe for polishing.
  • A pop of paint – a fresh coat of paint can work wonders. Choose neutral colours that are not only on-trend but appeal to a wide range of potential buyers.
  • Smart featuressmart home technology like programmable thermostats, smart lighting, or security systems add convenience and appeal.
  • Fresh fittings and fixtures – replace old light fixtures, switches, faucets, and hardware for a quick and affordable win that can make a world of difference.


Know when to enlist the pros

For major renovations, consult with builders, architects and designers who specialise in home renovations. Their expertise can help you make informed decisions, achieve the best results, and sometimes even save you money along the way – particularly where permits and building code adherence come into play. Cutting corners on necessary compliance can lead to costly issues down the road and impact your resale value if not done right. Focussing on high-quality materials and craftsmanship is essential, even if it means completing fewer renovations.


Renovate your way to a buyer’s dream, and sellers win

The goal of renovating your home is to add value while creating an appealing and more liveable space for you and your family and your future buyer. You’ll need to prioritise your upgrades to align with your budget and goals and have a solid understanding of buyer preferences and expectations in your local market. That’s where we can help. With a local First National Real Estate office near you, we’ll provide valuable insight into what buyers in your area are looking for, so you can tailor the renovations to match.


The following advice is of a general nature only and intended as a broad guide. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial, or real estate advice. You should make your own inquiries and obtain independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial, or real estate decisions. Click here for full Terms of Use.