Absolutely, without question, the most impressive internal part of any house is the kitchen. It is the main ‘gathering’ zone of the home, and its ability to satisfy prospective purchasers can be a deal maker or breaker. Which is why any experienced real estate agent will advise, this is the first area for sellers to sink their improvement dollars.
However, before you race off ordering Calacatta marble bench tops, Gaggenau appliances and premium tap fittings, the essential issue is: how do I add value while not over-capitalising for my area? Yes, it is generally considered that in inner city areas, prices are usually influenced by purchasers that will pay for convenience; and to some degree, the more impressive the ‘updating’ the deeper buyers will delve into their bank account… but what if your area is awash with developers?
Professionals vs Bulldozers
Julianne Sheffield from Raine & Horne Fullarton, an inner-southern suburb of Adelaide, offered some wise advice: “In our area, the 30- to 40-year-old professional buyer is quite dominant. As they were born around the 80s, they expect something more modern than they experienced when growing up — they don’t have time to start ‘doing up’ properties once they purchase.”
However, Julianne also acknowledged the other side of the coin, “No matter how attractive the home, be aware of the developer market,” adding, “don’t spend so much that you price yourself above the buyer intending to send in a bulldozer instead of furniture.”
Adrian Root from Raine & Horne Baulkham Hills, a north-western Sydney suburb, drilled down into the kitchen’s specifics, advising, “In our area, buyers are expecting to see a decent kitchen. However, if updating, never go for bold colours like fire-engine red, or an Elvis purple… light, neutral colours always appeal — and expect to pay around $20K to $30K for a good return.”
Priced for the market
Closer to the city, Youseff Chmait, from Raine & Horne’s southern Sydney office of Marrickville, was also specific with his advice: “In our area, sellers should question the idea of spending up to $50K on a new kitchen. Really, you’d be amazed just how impressive kitchens can look by adding a new bench top and splashback, while making sure appliances are stylish.”
Not only is Youseff sensitive to the market presence of developers, but he also points out the growing presence of ‘Frank Sinatras’, that is, buyers wanting to get into a home and ‘do it their way!’
What a woman (and a man) really wants
Many millions of kitchens to the west, Susan Pitts, from Raine & Horne Bunbury, a port city south of Perth, has dealt with many kitchen/buyer issues. “It’s simple,” she said, “here, if you update a kitchen it will deliver a better market presence, and higher return.” Further adding the kitchen should be priced for the area, “Not too expensive, but not too cheap either, and definitely designed for the space with thought for functionality.”
Susan also added, “In our area, the woman wants a nice kitchen, and the man wants a good shed… get those two things right and everybody’s happy.”
And getting things right is the key question for those considering updating their kitchen for a good return. Based on all the variables of location, buyer demographic and budget, it appears there is one strong answer that all the referred agents agreed: ask your agent what to do before you spend money — they’re the ones that know what your area’s buyers want.
After all, even though the kitchen is the heart of the house, make sure you use your head instead when considering how to prepare yourself for the marketplace.