Last Updated on June 14, 2023
You’ve decided to drop an entire year’s salary on a complete backyard remodel. You’re putting in mature trees, a koi pond, an apple orchard, a sweet outdoor kitchen, and a covered patio overlooking a brand new infinity pool. The plans are ready, and you’re stoked! After all, the sum total of these features can only add to the value of your home, right?
Um. It’s actually a little more complicated than that.
Some quality outdoor home features have the potential to increase your home’s value when it’s time to sell. But will the value increase enough to outweigh the costs of putting in the features?
Here are a handful of outdoor features that are nearly guaranteed to add value to your home, as well as a few that aren’t worth the trouble.
Add value with these outdoor home features
If you want to sell your home for more, get your lawn under control! In 2023, NAR estimated that standard lawn care would recover 217% of the cost estimated by landscape professionals. Shape hedges, remove overgrowth, and consider adding low-maintenance plants. Native plants are a great choice, which are used to the soil and climate conditions of the region. If you’re able to think long term, consider adding shade trees, which look nice and will also cut cooling costs considerably once they mature. However, don’t overdo it! If you’re not sure where the line is between perfect curb appeal and lawn care nightmares, consult your local garden center for advice.
Get the magic of twilight anytime you like with “Malibu lighting”, easy-to-install solar-powered outdoor lights. In addition to showing off your lawn and garden at night, these lights keep everyone safe from tripping and deter burglars. A typical installation of a standard 600w transformer and 20 LED lights is projected to cost $6,800 and have a 59% recovered value during your home sale. In the meantime, though, it increases visibility, improves curb appeal, and helps you enjoy your yard more anytime of the day. 55% of homeowners who install these lights “have an increased sense of enjoyment when they are at home.”
Outdoor kitchens are today’s backyard status symbol. They can cost between $15,000 to more than $100,000 to install, depending on your amenities and appliances, from grills to refrigerators to sinks. However, if you want the best chance to recoup your costs during your next home sale, keep it simple. NAR says an inset grill, stainless steel drawers, ice chest, sink, and 60 square feet of concrete countertop is plenty. For this kind of install, you can expect a 100% return on your investment. Doesn’t get much better than that!
If your back yard has the potential for outdoor entertaining, creating the right space for it could mean big money to the next buyer. But which will get you the biggest bang for your buck: a dining area, patch of gravel, dry laid patio, covered patio, or an above-grade deck? Experts estimate that a new deck offers a resale value of at least 89%, which is higher than just about any other home renovation project. Wood decks are the best choice since they’re affordable and desirable among buyers. Composite decking is more expensive and doesn’t provide as high of resale value, but it is higher quality than wood decking. According to SmartMoney.com, a landscaped patio raises the value of your home by 12.4%. And NAR reports a 95% cost recovery.
In addition to lowering your electric bill, solar panels have another long-term financial benefit: They can add value to your home. The exact percentage by which they increase a home’s value varies by state (as well as the size of your installation, of course). In their most recent report, Zillow reported an average premium of 4.1% for homes with solar versus homes without. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy also reports a premium of approximately $15,000 for a home with an average-sized solar array. However, homeowners who own their solar panels outright see a better return when they’re ready to sell.
If your lawn is the showcase of your property, keep it looking its best with a quality irrigation system. Your buyers will certainly notice. A buried sprinkler system is one of the best short- and long-term investments for a great-looking lawn. Plus, you’ll see much of the projected $6,000 installation costs in savings on your water bill. And when it comes time to sell, you can expect the system to improve your home’s value by $5,000. At 83% recovered cost (not including water savings), that’s one of the best home improvements you can make!
The sound of trickling water has many calming benefits. Small water features like fountains and ponds also attract birds and other wildlife that make it fun to sit out and enjoy your own yard. Best of all, it can cost as little as $50 to add a simple terra cotta pot with a recirculating pump to your landscaping. When paired with a comfortable place to sit and relax, these features can add a great aesthetic value to your home. Even if that does not equate to a specific dollar amount, the addition to your home’s overall landscaping and curb appeal could just be the thing to attract a great buyer.
Save your money on these outdoor home features
When researching the value of backyard fire pits, we got very mixed results. Firstly, the size and type of fire pit makes a huge difference. After all, a luxurious permanent fire pit that makes an architectural statement will have a bigger impact on buyers than a small, portable fire pit that may only last a few years. The convenience of natural gas or propane gas fire pits are well known. But those come with hefty installation costs. It costs upwards of $9,000 to install dry-stacked natural stone kits and a gas burner with a 10-foot diameter flagstone patio. On the other hand, you could see at least 56% back from an install that includes a patio. But wouldn’t the patio alone be enough?
Tree planting and care are very important facets of a great landscaping strategy. In fact, homeowners can expect to recoup 87% of their costs from overall tree care! But the least fruitful trees for adding value to a home are, well, fruit trees. Yes, they smell fragrant while in bloom, and you could enjoy their fruits for yourself. However, it could take years for certain types of trees to fruit at all. And when they do, the rotting fruit that falls to the ground is a magnet for flies and other insects. Plus, fruit trees require more pruning and attention than, say, a native white pine. Make sure you understand the responsibilities of any trees before planting them on your property. Especially fruit trees.
Wouldn’t it be nice to pour a tall, cold drink and just sit by your own in-ground backyard swimming pool all day? Put a swimming pool in for your pleasure, but know that it’s unlikely to add significant value to your home—and might even make it harder to sell in some neighborhoods! In-ground pools can cost anywhere from $30,000 to more than $100,000 to install. That’s a significant amount of money to try to recoup when a house is sold. Add that to your regular maintenance costs, and any increase in home value (which is negligible in some regions) will be quickly overshadowed.
Want to know your home’s current market value?
Understanding the outdoor features that add value to your home is just the first step to estimating its worth. There are many factors that go into estimating your home’s value and pricing a home correctly for sale. A thorough understanding of your property and of local real estate markets are essential in order to make informed and confident decisions. Nothing can replace the expertise of a knowledgeable and experienced real estate professional.
If you’d like to learn more about your home’s value in today’s fast-paced market, we can help. Contact your agent today to request a Real Estate Review.
All real estate is local. In order to make confident real estate decisions, it’s important to have timely and neighborhood-specific information. Contact us today to speak with an agent about selling homes and land.