Where most renovators go wrong? – Cate Bakos

In today’s show Cate Bakos, a buyer’s agent from Melbourne, tells us, from an agents perspective, where most DIY renovators go wrong.


Kevin:  When you do a renovation project, it’s always good to get some feedback about what are the good points and what are the things that are really going to turn the buyers on. I’m going to give you some advice on that now. It’ll come from Cate Bakos, who is a buyer’s agent from Melbourne. You can contact her through the website CateBakos.com.au.
Good day, Cate.
Cate:  Hi, Kevin. How are you going?
Kevin:  Wonderful. As you take people through some of these renovated properties, what do you see as the big turnoff for buyers, and where do renovators go wrong?
Cate:  Sometimes renovators might take it upon themselves to put in some fixtures and fittings that aren’t suited to the target tenant, and I’ve mentioned the target tenant before on the show. They might be pitching the finish above and beyond where the target tenant sees value and not conserving some of their budget for good additions that might be of value to the tenant.
For example, putting in a beautifully finished kitchen with granite benchtops and then overlooking some decent heating. That can certainly be one mistake that they can make. But there are some others, as well, and I’m happy to chat about those.
Kevin:  One of the ones that strikes me quite often is that they just don’t put their professional finish on them. It might be a nice paintjob, beautiful colors, and the house might be nicely decorated, but it’s just the finishing touches, particularly with paint, that seem to stick out.
Cate:  That’s so true. There’s nothing worse than a really shabby job, and most buyers can see through that. That can range from just tardy finishing touches such as bad paintjobs, maybe not patching properly so that surfaces are uneven, or having fixtures and fittings like lights or handles that aren’t put on nicely when it would have just taken a little bit of care to get it right and not make the buyer wonder what else is wrong with the property.
Kevin:  What I think is a real shame about this, too, is that sometimes those little finishing touches, they look as if the job was done in a shoddy fashion, but unfortunately they’re probably only finishing touches, but it is taken as a reflection on the entire job.
Cate:  That’s so true. In some cases, you can get some nice finishing touches but the buyer can tell that the really essential parts of the job weren’t done properly. One of the key ones that I find is uneven flooring. Then they’ve laid tiles and painted beautifully, but everyone knows that if the property needs restumping, all of that work will disappear into the ether.
Kevin:  What about for someone who is taking on a project and they may not be necessarily familiar with the area? What advice would you give them about who should they talk to, to find out what tenants are really going to want?
Cate:  They should always talk to their local property manager or find one who they feel particularly comfortable with and find to be trustworthy and know their stuff. If a property manager can indicate what sort of rental you can achieve with a particular finish or what sort of tenant will respond well and maybe stay for a long time, then it is worth considering putting in a finish like that. But without chatting to someone, you might make some additions that aren’t valued or you might – worse still – overcapitalize or not get any effect out of the effort and the money that you’ve spent.
Kevin:  The other thing I really love about what you just said, too, Cate, is getting a property manager involved in those early stages may just help you get a tenant that’s almost champing at the bit to get in there the moment you finish the renovation.
Cate:  That’s so true. I recently had a client who did a fantastic renovation and had the property managing guiding her through the process. She was able to take tenants through when they got towards the very end of the project, and she actually had a tenant in waiting, which is as good as it gets when you’re looking at a small-scale renovation project.
Kevin:  Cate, always great talking to you. Thank you so much for your time.
Cate:  Thanks, Kevin.

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