Renovating or ‘flipping’ an investment property
If you have decided to buy an investment property on the Costa del Sol with the intention of ‘flipping’ it, there are numerous factors you should take into account that can help ensure it’s a wise investment. Of course, there is always going to be a level of risk. However, taking the time to do your research and working with a trusted agent will help minimise this risk.
Flipping properties isn’t about making them as beautiful or stylish as they can be, it’s about making the highest return you can possibly earn on each individual home. You don’t want to be spending your savings on little touches and features that you think make the home look unique but don’t actually add any value to it.
First of all, let’s talk about location. I’ve said it before – location is everything on the Costa del Sol. If you buy a property in Estepona, spend thousands on renovating it, then put a hefty price tag on it, it’s likely going to be sat there for a long time. No matter how beautiful or modern you have made it, it’s not Marbella and people will not pay over its value.
Now this isn’t to say you should rush to buy an investment property in Marbella and expect to make millions in return, but being aware of the location you are buying in, what the property values are in the neighbourhood, the recent sale prices of comparable homes and how long they sat on the market for are all factors you should be looking at prior to buying anything.
Online resources are available, but working with a trustworthy agent who understands real estate and the different areas on the Costa del Sol is going to help you decide on the best possible investment choice.
After 16 years of living here, renovating multiple properties ourselves and having an in-house interior designer, Alegra Estates has an in-depth knowledge of the areas on the Coast and what can really add value to a home.
FLIPPING A HOME
So, now you’ve chosen a home and you’re ready to get started. Home flippers have a simple plan for earning money; buy a cheap enough home, fix it up and then sell it for a higher price. Buying low usually means it’s going to need work, but what home improvements and renovations actually increase a homes’ value? Check out some of our suggestions below.
FRESH PAINT AND FLOORING
Although basic home improvements, a fresh paint and new flooring can give a home a new lease of life. In many of the older Spanish homes here, terracotta tiles and bumpy cream walls are old-fashioned styles that should be updated.
The most popular and best choice for versatility would be to go for a wooden effect tile and choose a colour that is in keeping with the rest of the property, i.e. if the walls are a warm-toned white or beige colour, go for a light brown wooden effect tile to compliment it.
We would always recommend waiting to make final decisions on furniture once you have chosen all of the inside finishes such as paint colours, flooring, kitchen and bathrooms.
First impressions are everything. As well as giving the inside a fresh paint, the outside needs attention too. The front of the home should look inviting and modern. If it’s large enough, consider investing in landscaping this area. Add new flooring or concrete, a manicured garden/plants and possibly even a covered parking area.
If it’s a smaller area, perhaps add some potted plants to create a homey vibe, give the outside a fresh paint and either replace or clean up the front door.
It’s important to note here that if you have bought a property such as a townhouse or apartment that sits within an urbanisation, you have limitations with changing the outside of the property. For example, you can’t repaint the exterior of the home a different colour as it has to keep in line with every other house in the complex.
One of the best ways to increase a home’s value is to ensure it is flooded with light, especially here where the Coast benefits from nearly 320 days of sunshine a year. Many older homes have small windows and doors, making the inside incredibly dim and dark – a big turn off.
It’s worth investing in opening them up, so the property has large windows and floor to ceiling double glazed doors with electric shutters.
As well as natural lighting, updating and adding new light fixtures around the home is an effective method to increase lighting.
OPEN PLAN SPACE
Older homes will typically be in a closed floor plan, separating the kitchen from the living room and living room from the dining room. If possible, it’s worth opening it up and creating an open plan living space. Not only is it a more popular style, it also makes the space look bigger and allows more light to flow throughout the home.
KITCHEN AND BATHROOMS
Many estate agents will tell you that the appearance of the kitchen and bathrooms can make or break a sale. They are the rooms most often used by everyone in the house; the kitchen in particular is known as the heart of any home. If a buyer can imagine themselves in your kitchen, cooking for their friends and family and making happy memories, it’ll heavily influence their decision.
A brand-new kitchen can be one of the priciest areas of renovating a home, but it’s also one of the main selling points and will increase its value.
This doesn’t mean you have to splurge and go overboard on fancy, expensive granite or marble counters because there is no guarantee you will make that money back, but focus instead on making it look modern, clean and efficient.
Make sure the space has good flow, plenty of storage so that the kitchen surfaces are uncluttered and insert efficient appliances such as Bosch and Siemens (these are good quality, budget friendly appliances).
Design wise, go for simple, sleek and modern materials and keep it neutral. You don’t want the kitchen to overpower a buyer as they walk in. Neutral tones such as white cabinets with a cream or black work top look modern, clean and cater to most people’s styles.
The same rule should apply to reforming the bathrooms; keep it modern, clean and efficient. Both neutral and darker tones with tiles and cabinets work well here. If you can, replace or add a bath in one bathroom and a walk-in shower in the other/s. This just gives people a choice, however if it’s not possible and you can only fit showers, it’s not an issue.
Again, you should opt for installing good quality toilets and sinks. We would recommend Rocca for reliable yet still budget-friendly fixtures. His-and-hers sinks are also an especially appealing touch to the master bathroom.
ENERGY EFFICIENT FEATURES
Not only do energy efficient features positively impact the environment, but it can help add value to a home. Especially with the rising cost of energy, updating the home with energy efficient features and appliances can help persuade buyers of your property’s superiority and efficiency.
If possible, solar panels are a great addition to help keep a homeowner’s cost down, as well as inserting double glazed windows and doors and opting for energy efficient appliances such as ovens, hobs, microwaves and so on.
If you have bought a home with a garden, it’s worth investing in landscaping. Again, there’s no need to go overboard but sprucing up the garden with new grass, or completely tiling it over and adding some plants, adds value to the home and helps a buyer picture themselves enjoying it.
As well as this, if the property has a pool that needs work, the best and most cost-effective avenue to go down is just to re-tile it. Many of the older pools use a dark blue and white tile with patterns inside it, such as a dolphin or sun, and although this is quaint, updating to a simple pale blue coloured tile really makes the pool look fresh, inviting and ties in with the manicured garden and modern home look.
You might think this one is a given in a hot country, but many older Spanish homes do not have air conditioning. Adding this is a must to increase a home’s value.
The Bottom Line
So, the bottom line; there’s no need to go overboard, focus on keeping it modern, smart and efficient. You may not even have to make all the above improvements to a home – it completely depends on the property you buy.
Form a realistic budget and make an effort to stick to it. This goes for your timeline too. Do your research beforehand and then asses what updates will need to be made to deliver the best returns.
Be aware that here on the Costa del Sol, if you are planning on changing anything structurally within or outside the home, you will need to obtain planning permission from the local town hall. This is added time and expense, so be prepared to add this to your budget and timeline if necessary. Before going forward with any structural changes however, it’s worth consulting an architect or the local town hall first to see if there are any restrictions.
Use a trustworthy real estate agency like Alegra Estates to help do your research, explore multiple options, understand the different areas and market values and asses how much work you will need to do to a home first. Following these steps will help you make an informed decision on an investment property.