Property, be it at home or abroad, is probably the largest investment most people will make in their lifetime but that is exactly what it is – an investment. So what can home-owners in France can do to maximise their investment?
Give your home an external makeover
By far one of the easiest ways of adding value to your home is to give it an external makeover. A little ‘home-staging' goes a long way with even small inexpensive ‘tinkering' making a real difference. From giving the walls a fresh coat of paint in a neutral colour to tidying up the garden, even buying a new doormat can make a difference to the value of your home says Amy Fontinelle, writing for www.investopedia.com . A home with curb appeal will also sell quicker – research shows that just 10% of home buyers can look past a house's appearance to see its potential so first impressions are very important.
Update your kitchen
As one of the most well-used rooms in the average household, any work to renew your kitchen will increase the value of your home significantly. Indeed, according to estate agent George Franks updating your kitchen is the ‘single most valuable improvement you can make'. Extending your kitchen (either by stealing space from other rooms or by building an extension) will give you more room in which to create a kitchen which really stands out and can increase the value of your home enormously, however even small changes to your kitchen (refreshing the paintwork, changing the cupboard doors, replacing cupboard and drawer handles etc) can make a difference. If you do decide to invest in an entirely new kitchen choose a moderately priced good quality kitchen that will last – Don't waste your money on a cheap kitchen that will need replacing almost straight away nor on a very expensive kitchen which is at odds with the rest of your home.
Replace your bathroom suite
Because updating a bathroom is so disruptive with potential buyers loathed to take on such a mammoth task just after moving in, a new bathroom suite can add anything up to 20% to the price of a house, depending on the materials used (a timeless white suite will add more value to your property than a Barbie pink one, for example) and the overall aesthetic of the end result.
Adding another bathroom will also increase the value of your French home and confer a real advantage when the time comes to sell your property, additional bathrooms being a real boon for family-sized properties. However home-owners should beware of creating an extra bathroom at the expense of a bedroom which can actually reduce the value of your home.
Create another bedroom
By far one of the best and most effective ways of adding value to your property is to add another bedroom. Naturally, the actual value of an extra room varies according to the location of the property, how many bedrooms it had before, how many bedrooms the neighbours have etc., but of all the ways mentioned in this article for adding value to your French home, adding an extra bedroom offers the best value pound for pound (or euro for euro in this case), with the cost of creating an extra room more than covered by the resultant increase in value.
However adding bedrooms will only increase the value of the property up to a point. A five-bedroom house in a street of two-bedroom houses may prove difficult to sell; remember, a house is only worth what someone will pay for it.
Build a conservatory
Adding a conservatory is an excellent way of increasing the value of your French home for a relatively small outlay. Designs, materials and costs vary greatly but a good-sized conservatory kept in good condition can add anything up to 5% to the value of a house in the UK and will add a similar amount in France. Because they don't normally require planning permission, conservatories are also a hassle-free alternative to an extension to add an extra room to your property.
Convert your loft
Loft conversions allow you to add an additional room to your house without compromising on outdoor space in the way that adding an extension or conservatory would force you to and can add between 10 and 15% to the value of your home, making it one of the most profitable home improvement projects.
However home-owners beware; in order for a loft conversion to add value to your home it must be a useable (i.e. large enough with a real staircase) and fully-functional (with windows and plug sockets) living space and must meet all relevant fire and building regulations. If your loft extension doesn't, the space you have reclaimed will not be acknowledged nor reflected in the value of your property.
Install a swimming pool
Another popular way of adding value to your French home is to build a swimming pool.
If you live in the north, an indoor, in-ground swimming pools will generally offer the best return with an outdoor pool all too often proving to be ‘an expensive white elephant' (adding value to your property but costing a lot to maintain) whereas if you live in the south of France an outdoor in-ground swimming pool would be better. Above-ground swimming pools, whilst relatively inexpensive to install and unlikely to require planning permission, will probably not make the value of your property skyrocket but are equally unlikely to have a negative impact on the value of your property. They will however make property easier to sell/let.
Transform a room into a home cinema or gym
Like swimming pools, cinemas and gyms are also highly desirable and can be deal-clinchers when it comes to choosing one house over another. However those thinking about trying to add value to their home in this way need to think carefully. Not only are home cinemas (and to a lesser extent, gyms) vulnerable to the risk of obsolescence as new technology becomes out of date in months – especially at the moment as audiovisual technology takes its biggest leap forward since the switch from black and white to colour picture with the advent of HDTV (high definition television) – but in these cash-strapped times buyers may be unwilling to pay extra for such features.
Consider a water feature
It is a fact that a waterside location adds to the value of a property. Whilst re-routing a river to give your property water frontage and thus increase its value is not really feasible, the installation of any type of water feature, from a pond to a well-stocked lake with fishing rights, is likely to make an appreciable difference to how much your home is worth.
Unlike in the UK where outbuildings tend to be price neutral (having little or no impact of the price of a property), outbuildings in France will affect the price of your property. Although it is impossible to put a value on an outbuilding rest assured that even the lowliest outbuilding will increase the worth of your French home, especially if your target market is British buyers who often seek properties with outbuildings suitable for conversion to gites or in which to set up their own businesses.
About the Author
Matthieu Cany is Managing Director of Sextant French Property
(ArticlesBase SC #2084578)