Dress to Impress

By Yvette Yatras

Tarting up your property’s street appeal can mean better tenants and higher rent.

When it comes to selling and leasing property, first impressions count. A home’s street appeal – or lack thereof – can be a deal-breaker in property negotiations.

An overgrown garden, broken fence or neglected facade can be an instant turn-off.

“Presenting the property from the outside is crucial,” says Richard Wakelin, a director of Wakelin Property Advisory. “A house needs to speak to you, it needs to invite you in.”

Wakelin says it’s not uncommon for buyers and renters to do an initial drive-by of a house on the market and to strike it from their shortlist if it doesn’t impress.

As an investor, you can turn shabby presentation of a property to your advantage. Buy a home with little street appeal, tart it up to add capital value and increase the chances of securing a good tenant and a better rent return.

“The more negatives you can eliminate the easier the decision will be for a buyer or renter to make,” Wakelin says.

From the curb to the side passages of a property, there is plenty of room to make improvements.

Wakelin is a fan of exterior lighting to draw interest in the evenings when many buyers and renters are on the prowl.

You can repair or install a fence, create garden beds or hedges, buy a new letter box and lay a path to the front door.

Use a high-pressure cleaner on the house, a driveway or front porch and get the windows professionally cleaned. If a fresh coat of paint is required, choose contemporary paint colours.

“Like attracts like, so to get a good tenant you need to have a property that is well-presented. Otherwise there’s a strong chance you won’t attract tenants who will look after the property,” Wakelin says.

In Melbourne:
8 Hopetoun Crescent, Coburg North $380,000+
Snapshot:  A two-bedroom, one-bathroom weatherboard home built in the 1950s on a 770-square-metre block. It has a combined living/dining room, a basic original kitchen and bathroom and a garage down a side driveway.
Last traded: in the 1950s, price unknown.
Rent estimate: up to $350 a week.
Yield: 4.8 per cent at $380,000 purchase price.
Agent: Barry Plant Coburg, 0422 880 031.
More photos:
Agent Sam Gotzilianis says a complete makeover of this home inside and out could see it revalued at as much as $560,000. He describes the area as safe and family-friendly with the majority of residents owner occupiers. Surrounded by parkland and with a new estate and retail amenities under construction, Gotzilianis sees good capital growth on the horizon. He suggests giving the yard a clean, tidying up the garden and applying a fresh coat of paint.
Best feature: Up-and-coming neighbourhood close to Melbourne CBD.
Worst feature: Large yard requires lots of attention.

And Sydney:
34 Yvonne Street, Seven Hills $520,000+
Snapshot: A three-bedroom, one-bathroom 1960s house with a single, detached garage on a 556 square-metre block on the border of Kings Langley. Renovated in the 1990s, it has a timber-veneer panelled kitchen with adjoining dining room and a separate living room.
Last traded for: $235,000 in 2001
Rent estimate: $400 a week.
Yield: 4 per cent at $520,000 purchase price.
Agent: Century 21 John Ross Combined, 9831 2622.
More photos:
In the last 12 months, a surge of investors has snapped up property in Seven Hills, creating strong competition for the rental dollar. Agent Penny Stylianou says 70 per cent of buyers are currently investors, with the remaining 30 per cent mostly falling into the first-home buyers category. Stylianou says Yvonne Street has a strong reputation as a good neighbourhood.
She says the street appeal of this home could be improved with a new garden bed along the property’s border, a verandah and the extension of the concrete driveway to the curb.
Best features: Popular neighbourhood, room to add value inside and out.
Worst feature: Low rent return.

Date: March 29, 2014
Kate Farrelly


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