5 things I learned from my favourite TV renovator
Do you love property developer Sarah Beeney’s show Property Ladder? I do! Each week Sarah visits people who are determined to renovate for profit and equally determined to ignore any and all advice that Sarah (a successful, professional developer) has to give them. It’s one of those shows that literally has me howling at the TV! I’m not sure if it’s still being made but there are always re-runs on Foxtel. Ask me how I know!
Over many years of, ahem, research, here’s what I’ve learned about how to renovate for profit from Sarah Beeney.
Research your buyer
Talk to real estate agents in your area about who buyers are – couples without kids, families, empty nesters – and take that into consideration when you’re doing your reno. I’ll always remember one guy who was renovating a house in a very family neighbourhood, installing a bath in the main bathroom that was really hard to get into (you had to step in the narrow end, not the wide side). Not great for a mum trying to bathe 2 kids at the end of the day (or, you know, every second day if you’re my nephews). Think about what your buyer is looking for in a house – not what you’d want.
Research the market
On more than one occasion, Sarah has followed a would-be developer who’s spent time and money on a renovation, only to realise that they would have made the same amount of money if they’d done nothing as the market was rising anyway. Renovating can be time consuming and expensive and unless you know what you’re doing, it can be tough to make a profit. Have a look at what the market is doing and work hard on your sums to see whether renovating is actually worth it, or whether you’d do just as well to sit on the property and do nothing. I know. It’s not nearly as much fun – but Sarah’s all about making money, not having fun!
Of course, it depends on who will buy the property, but in Sarah’s world, more bedrooms are generally better. She’s not a fan of taking a bedroom to create a bathroom. Hard fact is that more bedrooms sell for more money.
It’s not personal
One of the biggest mistakes you can make if you’re renovating for profit is to make intensely personal design decisions. One set of sisters on Sarah’s show fell in love with some incredibly expensive tiles and used them for the bathroom. They were completely forgetting that they were renovating to sell and needed to included fixtures and fittings that would be appealing to their buyers, not to their particular taste. Ditto the woman who spent hours gluing fake rose petals to the wall in her hallway.
Lots of the people Sarah features want to “save money” by doing some of the work themselves. This can often be a false economy as non-professionals will usually take a lot longer to do a job (no matter whether that’s demolition or painting) than a professional. While you’re “saving money” on paying professionals, you’re actually spending money on holding costs as the job will take longer which means you’re paying interest on a loan for longer. Which means you’re reducing your profit.
Have you done the renovate for profit thing? Did you actually make a profit? What would you have done differently if you were going to move in yourself?