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Investigating the misconceptions behind home renovations

Home-owners take pride in improving their home, sometimes even investing a large amount of time and effort to renovate it to suit their fancies. The real question is whether these enhancements will add value to a property, or will they come back to create a bigger dent in the pocket when it is time to sell in the future.

Stress is a given when a homeowner ponders about how to renovate their home. There are a multitude of factors that need to be taken into consideration: the overall budget, the type of fixtures to install, how to make living spaces feel homely…the list goes on. For the most part, homeowners do have an end goal in mind when it comes to developing the design concept for their properties.


We approached two real estate agents, Calvin See, CEO of SEA properties and Yammie Ho, Associate Senior Team Director from HSR Realtors, to help to clear some of the misconceptions there are about how renovations can add, or affect, a property’s value in the long run.


Breaking down the walls in your HDB flat will reduce the value of your flat by 20%

Verdict: Breaking of walls do indeed influence resale value but not drastically

Yammie Ho (YH): Breaking down walls affect the official valuation of a property to a certain extent, but not as much as 20%. Homeowners may still choose to break down 1, 2 walls or even modify the positioning of the walls entirely, so long as the house is tastefully renovated, it can still fetch a good resale price.

My advice is that homeowners should break their walls wisely. They should only do so if it is easy for buyers to reconstruct them back upon resale. Too much reconfiguring should be avoided as this will complicate the layout. That said, if breaking the walls can create more living space and make rooms more spacious, prospective buyers will still be receptive to buying it.

Calvin See (CS): Based on my experience, breaking down the walls in a HDB flat would only affect its market value by a margin of up to 5%. This is because hacking the walls will alter the number of bedrooms in the unit, which in turn will influence the decision of buyers in the market searching for a specific flat size. Breaking down of walls should only be done if it enhances the layout and design of the unit in terms of aesthetic or practicality.


Homes which are renovated tend to increase the resale value of a property

Verdict: True, but only if it is done tastefully

CS: A well renovated unit generally will trigger interest from buyers to make an offer for the unit. This is because it tends to enhance the “feel” of the property, which may in turn result in an increase of say 5-10% of the property’s value. Also, some buyers usually prefer a renovated resale unit as it can help save on renovation cost.

Choosing the appropriate materials is a key factor in order to garner a higher resale value. For example, flooring that uses polished white homogeneous tiles will add brightness to a unit, and at the same time provide easy maintenance. In this current market, contemporary designs are very much sought after and homes that are designed with suitable wallpaper, cove lights and/or false ceilings to achieve this look may appeal to a wider audience.

YH: This is true only if the property is aesthetically pleasing. While I do agree that this is too subjective to judge, as a rule of thumb, it is best to get an interior designer to advise before renovations take place in order to reap the best value for the property in the long run. Buyers are extremely visual and from what I know, homes that have designer deco are always best sellers regardless of market conditions.



A property has a higher chance of being resold if the kitchen and master bedroom are fully furnished/renovated

Verdict: Partially true

YH: First impressions do matter! Other than Kitchen and Master Bedroom, the Living Room is the place of 1st entry to a house. If the Living Room is not adequately renovated, bright, spacious or airy, buyers will not be able to imagine themselves living in the house. The Living Room must at least be renovated with a feature wall/TV console, contain certain display units or have down lights installed.

CS: The kitchen does account for the bulk of a unit’s total renovation cost, hence experienced resale property buyers will place this as one of their major priorities when looking for a home. This also applies to the master bedroom, often the intimate area in the house where most of the time is spent after work.

However, there are other considerations too that may influence the buyers’ decisions to purchase a resale unit. These usually include the floor level of the unit, the unit’s layout, extent of renovation, floor area and unit’s orientation (sun direction).


It is not advisable to have colourful walls or wallpaper if you want to sell your property

Verdict: Absolutely true

CS: Majority of buyers prefer themes/concepts comprising of not more than 3 different colours. Having complicated and overly colourful walls may not appeal to many buyers. The key here is to stick to simple contemporary designs.

YH: Gaudy colours and decorations may not suit prospective buyers’ lifestyle or preferences. Using neutral colours will help buyers picture themselves living in the house; warmer or more inviting colours makes it easier for the buyer to feel right at home.


It is a bad idea to have a walk-in wardrobe in the master bedroom because it affects resale prices

Verdict: False

YH: There are a number of units which have walk-in wardrobes that fetch good resale prices. Many young couples like the walk-in concept, as long as there still is sufficient walkable space in the bedroom. The most important thing is that said walk-in wardrobe must be tastefully designed and able to effectively organize and un-clutter the room.

CS: In this current market, walk-in wardrobes are popular, especially among the younger generation. Walk-in wardrobes provide space as a changing room and allows the storage of more apparel. It also promotes the feel of an organised sense in storage.

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