Gardens: The Unsung Hero in Real Estate Valuations

Gardens, and landscaping in general, are often the most overlooked elements when it comes to adding value to a home.

How much value your gardening and landscaping choices can add is highly subjective to the market the property’s located in, but it’s worth noting that over ninety-percent of buyers rank garden design as something that definitely increases value, whereas the color of the paint inside the home is often of little concern by comparison.

Deck garden

The reality, when faced with insight from experts in the field like realtors and home-staging professionals, is that adding a garden will not only add to the overall value of the home, it can make the home sell much faster, too. In fact, homes lacking appealing property design elements may never sell at all.

Curb appeal sells homes…

Most buyers decide whether a home is for them or not before they even pull in the driveway. Whether it’s from the pictures you have posted in the listing, or if they’re visiting the home for a showing; curb appeal sells homes. It’s a lot like how single people know within seconds of meeting someone whether they’re attracted to, and compatible with that person.

Curb appeal sells homes. Yes, they may change their mind once they get inside, if there are design elements that would be hard (expensive) or impossible to change to suit their tastes. And yes, they’ll surely back out of the sale if their home inspector tells them the house needs a brand new foundation, or if toxic mold is present and the place needs to be gutted.

Again, those same buyers may never venture inside for a look at all if the yard is a disaster area, or if it’s just a cookie-cutter-carbon-copy of every other home in the neighborhood (ie., like a condo or townhouse community).

What constitutes a garden?

It’s easy to get thrown by the term “garden.” It’s an ambiguous term for many. Most people think of an arrangement of flowers – or rows of cucumbers, tomatoes, and watermelons when they envision a garden.

Consider Wikipedia’s definition before jumping to conclusions:

“A garden is a planned space, usually outdoors, set aside for the display, cultivation, and enjoyment of plants and other forms of nature. The garden can incorporate both natural and man-made materials.”

A garden can be as simple as a 10’ x 10’ section of the property set aside for a simple flower arrangement, or the whole of all the landscaping elements on the property including plants, trees, ponds, shrubs, lighting, gazebos, terraces, stonework, walkways, fountains, and much more that surround the home.

Recommendations for adding garden elements to a property

This is where things can get easy, or complicated and expensive for homeowners and investors. There are a lot of choices to consider. However, some offer a better ROI than others – especially if you’re trying to do a fast and profitable flip and don’t plan on living on and enjoying the property yourself for a time.

Flower garden by the window

For the most part, experts agree that landscaping choices need to be modern, in line with the surrounding community theme, and should offer mostly cost and resource-sparing effects rather than adding to a potential buyer’s homeowner expenses.

There are 3 gardening elements you can add to virtually any property that are sure to add value, rather than detract from it:

  1. Trees: Trees add oxygen to the air, shade the home from UV rays to lower cooling bills, prevent water runoff, and act as a wind break which can save 5 – 15 percent on heating bills each winter.
  2. Native plants: Non indigenous plants require more care as they’re often not acclimated to areas outside their preferred environment and will die easily without expert and time-consuming effort.
  3. Exterior lighting: Exterior lighting deters burglars, makes walking around in the dark safer, and can significantly lower homeowner insurance premiums for home buyers.

Other elements such as those mentioned earlier, can also add value to the home. But, the dark side is they can also present problems for buyers. For instance, a fishpond could certainly turn off some parents, especially parents of young children. Gazebos and stonework throughout the property can also present a danger, while also being harder and more expensive to remove.

While nothing is for sure, trees, plants and lighting always go over well. As do vegetable gardens, if there is enough property to justify putting one in. With the recent movement toward whole, unrefined foods that are pesticide free; health-conscious home buyers will always find the opportunity to grow their own natural foods to sustain themselves immensely appealing.

Advice for homeowners seeking to sell in the future

Investors do indeed need to be careful when choosing what gardening elements to add to a property for a quick sale and maximum profit. There is so much on the line when it comes to financing agreements, taxation, and obviously the equity you have sitting in the home while it’s unoccupied. The last thing you want to do is spend fifteen-thousand dollars creating a jungle themed grotto in the backyard of a home, then have to wait months or years to find the right buyer.

For homeowners who know they’ll be selling their property at some point in the future, it’s more important to structure how your garden looks for your own enjoyment. In the long run, the investments you make now for selfish reasons will most definitely appeal to at least one lucky buyer down the line.

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