Should I improve my Brighton property before selling?

The basic rule of thumb here can be summed up in two well-worn sayings: “less is more” and “price doesn’t equal value.” In other words, while little things like a good spring clean, touching up the paintwork and tidying the garden can definitely be beneficial, any major outlay is likely to be uneconomic, since you almost certainly won’t recoup the full cost when you sell.

If this sounds odd, try thinking of it in car terms. Just because you have forked out £1,000 for a new gearbox doesn’t suddenly make your car worth £1,000 more than it was before. On the other hand, a good going-over with some T-Cut and a chamois leather can work wonders. Just ask any second-hand car salesman!

OK, so cars are a depreciating asset, whereas houses aren’t. Nevertheless, the same rule generally applies. To take an extreme example, let’s look at the roof. As with cars and their gearboxes, people expect houses to have a reasonably sound roof. So, if it’s just a question of a couple of loose or missing slates letting in a bit of water, and a satisfactory repair can be effected at minimal cost, then it’s definitely worth doing. On the other hand, if the roof is in such a poor state that it really needs completely replacing - forget it. A house with a brand new roof costing, say, £15,000 is not going to sell for £15,000 more than the one next door! So, my advice in this instance would simply be to leave the roof, and adjust your asking price accordingly.

Needless to say, of course, as with any rule, there can be exceptions – and those will depend on other factors, like the type of property, its location, and the state of the market. So, for example, if you have a two-bed house in an area where there is a glut of them on the market, but a serious shortage of 3-beds – then it might just be worthwhile having that expensive loft conversion done!

However, this is where the one truly golden rule about the property market comes into play: if in doubt – ask an estate agent!  The agent will almost always say:  spend your money on what you are moving to, not what you are leaving!