Backyard Inspiration: Value-Added Outdoor Improvements
As the days get longer and summer makes its debut, it’s time to turn your attention to your outdoor spaces. Whether you are updating your home for a quick sale or just want to choose a project that will contribute to increased equity down the road, it’s important to choose wisely and with an eye on the projects that sell in your local market.
Even as COVID-19 restrictions are easing up in some places, many camps, country clubs, and community recreation facilities remain closed or restricted. That makes outdoor spaces even more important—and attractive—than ever before. If you are selling this year, talk to your real estate agent or broker about highlighting your picture-perfect outdoor spaces in the marketing materials created for your home sale.
Doors, Siding, and Roofing
They’re not as hot as other outdoor projects, but these elements are among the most value-added improvements you can make to your home’s exterior. Year after year, new exterior doors, garage doors, siding, and roofing lead the pack in return on investment (ROI). Remember, these improvements don’t have to be strictly utilitarian— they can contribute to updating and upgrading your home’s curb appeal as well. Go for a different color, different material, and a different look, and enhance these updates with new exterior lighting and hardware for maximum impact.
One of the most cost-effective ways to add value, no matter what your plans are for selling your home, are trees. Offering a host of benefits, including improving your ecological footprint, savings on heating and cooling costs, and appreciation year after year, mature trees add beauty and value to your home and to your neighborhood.
In addition, consistently well-maintained landscaping can make a big difference in the way your home looks, without breaking the bank or requiring weekend warrior DIY credentials. Consider a lawn service or the installation of an irrigation system to help your lawn reach its full potential.
Patios and Decks
Patios and decks are always a popular upgrade, and they generally recoup much of their cost. Take a look at what your local market will bear before deciding on an over-the-top, elaborate patio or deck. In the South, where such spaces are used practically year-round, multiple levels, pergolas, and other bells and whistles may be a major selling point. In the North, they will probably seem like overkill and lose much of their ROI due to increased maintenance costs.
Geography is a major factor in determining the return on investment for a pool. In some markets, and in many luxury properties, a pool may be considered a must-have. In others, it is a liability and an unnecessary expense. In addition, positive ROI on a pool installation is difficult to create, since it’s an expensive upgrade with high ongoing expenses for maintenance and upkeep. A general rule of thumb is not to install a pool unless it’s something you and your family will enjoy, and is something that will enhance your quality of life during the years you are living in your home.
Outdoor Kitchen and Dining Room
Also called a summer kitchen in some markets, an outdoor kitchen can provide a beautiful setting for outdoor lunches, dinners, and entertaining opportunities. The key to enhancing your ROI with an outdoor kitchen? Scale. While a luxury property might require extreme upgrades, for most homes, an inset grill, stainless steel ice chest and drawers, and sufficient counter space are all that’s required for a functional outdoor kitchen. Add an amply-sized table and chairs with a roof or pergola and you’re ready to party.
Firepits and Seating
Though summer is warm for the majority of the country, the evenings can sometimes turn cooler in some places, especially at the beginning and end of the season. A large firepit or fire bowl with seating makes a perfect place to cozy up for a long evening of marshmallow roasting and storytelling with family and friends. As a bonus, fire features can range from elaborate gas-powered setups to simple, cost-effective DIY projects—meaning they’re a value-added update you can afford no matter your budget.
For many buyers, pets are a major consideration, so projects that appeal to pet parents are particularly popular selling features. These can include:
- Pet-friendly fencing options or dog runs
- Animal pools or bathing stations
- Climate controlled doghouse
- Dog potty areas
- Pet-friendly landscaping
- Splash fountain water feature
Since 67 percent of US households own a pet, a marketing plan that includes pets may make your home the top choice for even more buyers in your area.
Projects with Rental Potential
Especially in a time of economic uncertainty, projects that offer additional financial stability are, perhaps, the best investments of all. If your property includes a carriage house, guest house, pool house, or garage, you may be able to create a desirable rental unit. For convertible spaces in your main home, like an attic or basement, a separate entrance, porch, and outdoor space may create even more impact and marketability. If you don’t want to rent the space out yourself, use it for guests or as an in-law suite now, then market its rental potential when you decide to sell.
Don’t forget to include additional features like outdoor lighting and audio to enhance your updated space. For upgraded landscaping, ensure that you have a plan in place to keep it healthy and optimally maintained, no matter the season.
Your real estate professional has the insights you need to help you determine which outdoor improvement will have the most impact at the closing table. This will depend on a variety of factors, including buyer demand, comparable properties, and market conditions in your area. In addition, your real estate agent or broker will know the best professionals in your area for helping you plan and install your upgraded outdoor spaces.
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