They spend their days talking up the properties they sell, but what do real estate agents really think of your acid-yellow splashback?
Domain asked agents to nominate the renovations or design features they would never include in their own homes, especially if they planned to put up the “for sale” sign any time soon.
Here are some of the experts’ biggest property no-nos.
Building a walk-in wardrobe
Of course, this doesn’t apply if you have acres of floor space and an unlimited budget, but Maria Magrin, a residential sales consultant at Belle Property Annandale in Sydney, warns walk-ins can be a waste of space.
“The first thing I did when I bought a terrace house five years ago was convert the walk-in wardrobe into an en suite,” Magrin says.
The extra bathroom is not only better for her family; she expects it will be more appealing to buyers when she wants to sell.
“It was a pathetic walk-in anyway. Then I put built-ins in my bedroom, which gave us more storage space than the walk-in wardrobe had.”
Going nuts with bold colours
Stop! Walk away from the feature wall! And think twice about the oh-so-now turquoise kitchen cabinetry.
Magrin is all for adding pops of colour through cushions, rugs and other soft furnishings. But for more enduring interior design features, she cautions against bold colour choices.
“It’s like fashion. Colour does date,” Magrin says. “Not only that, some people might walk into the home and not be able to get over the fact that they hate red or orange, or whatever colour you have used. Some people can’t visualise what a room might look like with a different colour.”
Installing a swimming pool
A backyard swimming pool isn’t part of everyone’s great Australian dream, according to Matthew Waddell, general manager of Robinson Property in Newcastle.
Instead of seeing a pool and envisaging endless hours of fun in the sun, many would-be buyers see nothing but a hassle, and an expensive one at that.
“If it’s for your benefit and it suits your family in the long-term, that’s fine, but there are plenty of people who will look at a house with a pool or spa and think, ‘I’m going to fill that pool in’,” Waddell says.
In his experience, homes with pools appeal mainly to families with school-aged children.
“After that, it becomes a drain on your resources to maintain. People start to think, ‘What do we want a pool for?’ Especially if you live near the beach.”
Creating a man cave
That fantasy about converting the garage into a man-cave? It might be best left as a fantasy, because chances are when you want to sell, buyers will be more impressed by having somewhere to park the car.
Waddell cautions against converting useful spaces (such as bedrooms or garages) into man caves, media rooms or other areas that don’t necessarily have a broad appeal.
“If you want to do something quirky because that’s what you love and you are going to live there for 10 years, go for it, as long as it’s not too costly to convert back,” he says.
“But if you’re trying to maximise your return … keep it as vanilla as possible so you can attract as many buyers as possible.”
Getting creative with painting techniques
There are YouTube videos galore with lessons on how to create faux wood grain looks, marbled finishes, textured crackle surfaces and other amazing wall painting techniques.
Braden Walters has no plans to watch them.
“Whatever you think looks creative may not look that great to buyers,” Walters, a board member of the Real Estate Institute of NSW, says.
“For example, we sold a house where the owners used a zigzag pattern with the paint brushes. The buyers walk in and go, ‘Oh my god, what were you thinking?’”
Like Magrin, he says it’s best to add colour through soft furnishings, “not Pro Hart stuff where you’re splashing paint all over the walls”.
Doing it yourself
Unless you’re a licensed tradesperson, think very carefully about hiring the power tools to build your own deck, extension or other substantial renovation.
“I’ve seen ugly-looking decks that aren’t square, or one corner sags, so it’s more like a sliding deck,” Walters says.
His advice? Know your limits. And leave big jobs to the experts. “I’m more of a brickie’s labourer. If I was going to do something, I’d get one of my friends who’s a licensed tradesman and be their lackey if I wanted to get involved.”