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Across the nation, we love doing up our homes, particularly if we think it will make us huge returns when it comes to selling it later. Deciding where to save and where to invest in pre-sale renovations is the tricky part, as not every upgrade will pay for itself upon the sale of your house, and you can end up financially worse off than if you hadn’t made the changes.

The key is to keep it simple, and make sure there’s nothing that would put a potential buyer off. Ask yourself the three Ds (is it dirty, damaged or dated?) and address these issues first. Next, keep in mind the five things below, to make sure your house stays ahead of the pack.

Don’t Curb Your Appeal

The rocketing prices of new build homes gives sellers with an older property an excellent market opportunity. To truly capitalise on this, make sure that “old” doesn’t translate into “shabby”, and make sure the presentation of your home is as fresh as possible.

Revitalise any particularly tired spots, like rendering discoloured brickwork, or power-washing a mossy driveway. The front door and street-facing windows should be given special attention, particularly if they need repairing or replacing. Having a garage is a huge advantage, so make sure it looks it’s best by giving old doors a lick of paint or replacing tired plastic with traditional wooden garage doors.

Details make a difference, so tuck dirty wheelie-bins out of sight, mow the lawn and spruce up any planters or hanging baskets waiting to greet viewers.

Get Up to (Internet) Speed

Even if they’re looking for some rural charm, property seekers are still interested in fast internet speeds and reliable mobile reception. If your broadband connection is slow, you absolutely need to fix it to bring your property up to par. In some cases, simply relocating your router will balance out interference from thick walls and heavy doors, but if this doesn’t solve your trouble, start looking at powerline adapters, a new provider or even fibre cabling.

Talk to your mobile network carrier about supplying a plug-in booster for your phone reception, which are often inexpensive or completely free of charge. Boosters work by increasing the signal they can receive, so if you know there’s a signal sweet-spot near the kitchen window, that’s where you should position the booster pack.

Grant Their En-Suite Dreams

Not surprisingly, having to queue for the family bathroom is not high up on house-hunters’ priority lists, so if your 4-bed still only hosts one set of bathroom facilities, you could find yourself missing out on a buyer. To compete with new builds, you’re looking at about 1.5 bathrooms for every 2 bedrooms, roughly translating to a family bathroom, downstairs cloakroom and en-suites for your master bedroom and second bedroom.

Adding just one of these will give you a considerable return on your investment. We’d recommend sweetening up the people actually prepared to pay for the property, and focusing on an en-suite for the master bedroom. Also check that all bathrooms are close to contemporary standards; that’s includes a reasonable shower pressure, glass screens (ditch that soggy shower curtain) and a heated towel rail.

Light Their Fire

Despite our technological leaps and bounds, we still feel an irresistible pull from an open fire, or rustic wood burner. If your home already boasts a working fireplace (fuelled by wood, gas or electricity) then make sure it’s a prominent feature of your listings. Keep it warm and welcoming when your potential buyers come to visit, unless they’re viewing on a searing midsummers day.

Repairing or re-commissioning a fireplace and flue are well worth the investment, especially as absorbing the cost will stop it weighing on the mind of your buyer. If you don’t currently have a fireplace in your home, consider installing a wood burner – prices start at around £1,000 (including installation), which will easily be added to the value of your home.

Make Room to Grow

Gardens are a must-have for many homeowners, but it’s nearly impossible to please everyone. Some buyers will expect perfectly manicured flowerbeds plus space to grow veggies, while others will just want a lawn to let their little ones run around.

Save yourself a fortune and don’t worry about a professional landscaper. Instead, make sure that your patio is clean and inviting, the fence is in excellent condition and there are no neglected corners harbouring junk. Invite as much space and light into your garden as possible by keeping leylandii in check and considering cutting down any trees that detract from the space.

Before undertaking any work, make sure you budget carefully and consider consulting with an estate agent to see if the upgrades are likely to be reflected in the price. If not, then don’t spend it on improving a home that you’re moving out of – put it towards something for your new home!