Coffs Harbour sees more renovation work due to COVID-19: HTW residential

Coffs Harbour sees more renovation work due to COVID-19: HTW residential
Coffs Harbour sees more renovation work due to COVID-19: HTW residential

The Coffs Harbour rental market appears to have held up relatively well, according to the latest Herron Todd White (HTW) residential report. 

The valuation firm suggest in locations across the nation, the downtime delivered by isolation has spurned on owners looking to improve their assets through maintenance and upgrade. This month’s HTW report highlights where renovations are on the rise and the price points and outcomes those markets can expect.

The HTW report notes although some holiday rentals have switched to permanent, there is no dramatic oversupply and no sign that rental values are falling. 

"One month on from the start of the COVID-19 restrictions and we are seeing some light at the end of what may prove to be a long tunnel. The market surprisingly has not come to an abrupt halt; more so, it has taken a cautious approach.

"We have experienced a distinct lack of supply of properties for sale with the property section of the local weekend paper becoming significantly smaller, although demand has not appeared to have dropped with supply.This has caused values to remain relatively firm with some noticeable good prices being achieved in areas where supply is down," the valuation firm said. 

Given there are no active cases within the area and restrictions are slowly being lifted, the general feel is of positivity with the expectation that once domestic travel is given the green light, the Coffs Coast will be seen as a very attractive place to come for a holiday, giving the local economy a much needed shot in the arm.

"To renovate or not to renovate is an age old question. We have seen in recent years the modern generation’s appetite for new homes with a significant push towards new estates and building the dream.

"As land is becoming scarce within the region (with a lack of new estates coming onto the market), we are definitely seeing a move towards renovations and extensions, especially within well-established suburbs where vacant land is no longer available," the valuation firm said. 

Typically, these are the more sought after locations close to the beach and town, however renovation activity is not isolated to one specific location.

"We have seen many DIY home improvements over recent weeks thanks to COVID-19, however these are more your catch up on general maintenance items rather than full blown renovations," the valuation firm said. 

"We have seen building costs increase significantly over the past four years as increased demand for construction of new products and renovations has seen builders and trades stretched thin within the region.

"People’s expectations of the cost of renovations or extensions are often well under- cooked and depending on the degree of house improvement proposed, we are regularly seeing renovation costs in excess of the cost to demolish and rebuild a new home.An average renovation cost for a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home to upgrade the kitchen and bathrooms, floor coverings and painting would start at $50,000 and up depending on the quality of fit-out.

"If we then start adding internal remodelling of floor plan, additional outdoor living, extensions etc, we are now talking $100,000 plus with major rebuilds often being in excess of $300,000 and if talking prestige homes $700,000 plus may not be out of the question," the valuation firm continued. 

Examples of an area where renovation works are becoming part of the norm is the popular beachside suburb of Sawtell, dollar for dollar one of the most expensive areas in Coffs Harbour, the report noted. 

"To compare, we have examined some recent sales in Circular Avenue, a well-positioned street within walking distance of the main village precinct," the valuation firm said. 

77 Circular Avenue, Sawtell (pictured below) is a very modest original 1970 brick home with three bedrooms, one bathroom and single garage set on 531 square metres.

It sold for $700,000 in January 2020 which represents predominantly land value.

Coffs Harbour sees more renovation work due to COVID-19: HTW residential  

In February 2020, 88 Circular Avenue, Sawtell (pictured below) sold for $1.04 million (a record street price).

This is a fully renovated 1970s rendered brick home with four bedrooms, two bathrooms and double garage set on 663 square metres.

 Coffs Harbour sees more renovation work due to COVID-19: HTW residential

"This property sold at auction with high demand and a price achieved above expectations, however when you compare it to 77 Circular Avenue, it represents good buying.

"To achieve the same product on 77 Circular Avenue (notwithstanding a slightly larger lot size), the cost to renovate and extend the modest 1970 three-bedroom home to a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home would be in excess of $350,000 which would result in a total cost of $1.05 million plus the time and effort undertaken to achieve this.

"In this case, it makes sense to buy the already completed property," the valuation firm said. 

The main rule to renovations is to understand the added value of the cost of renovations and not to overcapitalise for the locality.

This is easier said than done and all depends on the underlying land value and the purpose and scope of the works, plus factor in whether it’s as a homeowner or investor.

The homeowner who has decided that their current place of residence is their forever home can afford to over capitalise to achieve the lifestyle benefits they desire within their budget.

However the investor should be shrewder and consider factors such as cost versus added value and only renovate areas that are required or value add by increasing rental return. This could be in the form of secondary accommodation (granny flat) or reconfiguring the current space to provide additional bedrooms, the report noted. 

"One point should be made when undertaking remodelling or conversions within the dwelling is to seek council approval before you start the project. 

"One of the misconceptions with owners is that council approval is not required for conversions or reconfiguring internal walls so long as you stay within the current building footprint (that is no extensions or additions). This is incorrect; any moving of a wall or conversion of a garage etc has to be approved by council," the valuation firm said. 

"If you undertake any improvements of this nature without approval, for all practical purposes, no one knows so who cares?However, the ramifications come when you wish to sell the property or need a valuation for mortgage security purposes; any works undertaken without approval will not achieve the full value.

"Even more so if you have converted the home into dual accommodation and rent separately for investment purposes or live on one side and receive rent in the other," the valuation firm said. 

The report suggests this extra income will not be included in a valuation for mortgage security purposes as it is not council approved. This is critical when you require the extra rental to be included in your loan application to prove you can service the repayments, not to mention the insurance implications if an accident occurs.It is difficult to say what people should or shouldn’t do when it comes to renovation.

"Our best advice is to seek the experience of your local Herron Todd White valuer to navigate and guide you through the market in your local area." 

Renovation Coffs Harbour

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