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Get that magic street appeal

Boost your house’s value and enhance its rental appeal by giving it an exterior facelift. Ilse Wolfe Director of Opes Accelerate, has tips for every budget.

9 March 2022

Nailing a great first impression from the kerb means dressing your property to impress.

Most investors will spend renovation dollars on the inside of a property, but first you’ve got to entice in tenants or buyers. We call this 'street appeal'.

If you’re looking to sell, or you’re sprucing up a rental using the BRRRR strategy (Buy, Renovate, Rent, Refinance, Repeat), here’s how to give your property the ultimate competitive edge in any market.

1. On a shoestring

Give the façade a house wash

First things first. The façade is the ‘face’ of a property. So, a well-maintained appearance works in the same way as your face does at a job interview.

A house wash has an immediate impact. Once scrubbed, the paint appears fresh and the spouting brand-new white, primed for photography.

A professional house wash for a 100-square-metre house will cost NZ$500 to NZ$800. But if you’re tight for cash, pull out the hose and brush yourself.

It’s a good idea to repaint the front door, too. If you have spare paint on hand, great, if not, buy a small pail for NZ$50.

Fence and letterbox

Take the house wash one step further by water blasting other surfaces, like concrete footpaths, trims, fences, and the letterbox.

Scrub up all hard surfaces, especially on the southern boundary. This side tends to get less sun and is more likely to get green or slippery.

This step uses your own elbow grease for zero cost, but makes a big impression when people arrive.

Garden and lawns

Having a tidy garden goes without saying. A freshly cut lawn and a weeded, pruned garden give a property a fresh, clean appearance, at no cost if you do it yourself. To get full points for the overall impression, include the street berm!

A great tip for small gardens is to turn over a few bags of mulch, which gives the illusion of it being freshly worked on.

Cut back any shrubs limiting light into the house. This will instantly brighten the interior.

Plant a pair of feature trees (called a ‘standard’) to create symmetry and a premium touch when people enter to the front yard. This will cost about NZ$200 per standard tree.

2. Mid-range budget

House façade and exterior paint

Fresh paint in keeping with your existing colour palette gives you an instant value boost but without the full price tag.

One topcoat, along with a tidy-up of any obvious wear, will reduce the perceived cost of maintenance. This is something a potential buyer will factor into their offer.

A professional touch-up costs around NZ$4000 or, if you do it yourself, NZ$500 for paint and brushes.

Don’t forget to replace the dented or rusty letterbox and take note of the garage door’s condition. If it’s scratched or mouldy, consider a topcoat of paint, oil, or stain to make it look brand-new again.

Garden and lawns

Find a gardener via Builder’s Crack or on a student job search website.

Usually, NZ$300 to NZ$400 a day is the going rate for weeding, pruning and a general tidy, plus disposal of any waste.

Install or update outdoor light fittings

Install appropriate feature lighting for entertainment areas or put LED downlights into the soffits to light a side path.

Accent lighting creates an impressive ambience and will turn a nondescript back deck into a destination when you host guests.

You’ll be looking at anywhere from N$50 to NZ$200 per fixture, plus an electrician’s labour at NZ$80 plus GST an hour.

Complete the look with outdoor furniture.

Create a seating area

If you’re selling, enlist the help of a home stager to rent you outdoor furniture at a fraction of the cost of buying it.

This will evoke emotion, where a potential buyer or tenant begins visually fitting their own furniture into the spaces.

Staging costs NZ$1000-NZ$4000 for up to four-week rental.

3. Extravagant

Full house repaint

A professional repaint has two benefits.

A fresh seal of paint will protect the house from the seasonal elements.

It adds substantial perceived value because a new paint job will last for up to 10 years.

Choose a colour palette in keeping with neighbourhood taste. You don’t want to risk alienating some potential buyers or tenants with an outrageous colour.

Allow for NZ$7000 to NZ$15,000 for a professional paint job, including scaffolding, which is a legal health and safety requirement.

However, after the house is freshly painted, prepare to start noticing lesser maintained features which suddenly appear more jaded. This is called the ‘Diderot Effect’.

So, set aside NZ$5000 to NZ$10,000 in the budget for supporting maintenance, depending on what may stand out.

Replace or re-oil cladding

If your house has timber cladding, over the years it will have faded and weathered. Consider a reclad of the worn materials.

Or a more cost-effective option would be to re-oil or re-stain the timber.

Landscape architect

A professional will deliver the maximum manicured effect and give balance to the overall streetscape. If you want to make a splash, employ a landscape architect to plan a flowering rotation through the seasons.

If you’re building, keep aside a NZ$50,000 to NZ$100,000 budget for landscaping, including plants.

This will pay itself back on valuation day.

Water feature or a centrepiece

If there’s no constraint to your budget, a floating overbridge or a centrepiece water feature adds allure to an entrance.

A bespoke outdoor lighting plan by a qualified electrician will transform the house after dark, too.

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