Curb Appeal: Property Makeover

Now that summer is gone and the crisp fall air is here to stay, you’re likely to spend the next few months looking out your windows at the dreary weather. And that makes it a great time to start thinking about what could be done in the yard to improve the value of the overall property.

A few months ago I wrote a blog post about how major remodeling projects do not provide a positive return on their investment (with the exception of one- a new roof) and why that’s just fine because the Joy Score for many of them is so high that it’s worth the expense if you don’t plan on selling for a few years. That post is based on the 2015 Remodeling Impact Report.

The National Association of Realtors just released a complimentary study, the 2016 Remodeling Impact Report: Outdoor Features that lays out what Realtors say matters most to their Buyer clients: the top three responses were lawns, landscaping and patios/decks. (You can download the full report here or view it in your browser here.)

Let’s take a peak at their top features.

#3: Patios & Decks

Given how we in the Pacific Northwest love to spend as much time outdoors when the weather is nice, it makes sense that these outdoor living spaces are a main attraction for many buyers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had buyer clients go straight to the deck before walking through the entire home during a showing- they find it important to take in the energy the grounds offer and how connected the outdoor space is to the indoor space. And if the deck has a view, buyers will have a greater expectation of the quality of that space as they will plan on spending a lot of time there.

If you are considering selling in the near future, make note that having a deck in disrepair is a major turn off to potential buyers. The first thing they do is imagine how much work is needed to address deferred maintenance or how much a replacement will cost. On the other hand, home owners report a Joy Score of 9.7 after completing this project and seventy-seven percent report a greater desire to be at home enjoying their space. So why not consider an upgrade that you can enjoy for the years before you sell?

Since we’re in a region that is subject to so much damp and wet weather, I do recommend considering composite materials for your deck since, as Popular Mechanics writes in this article, “they’re extremely low-maintenance and never need to be sanded, refinished or stained.” That said, there are plenty of high end woods that compliment a luxury home with a feeling of quality that wasn’t restricted by a budget.

#2: Landscaping Upgrade

Between the deck and the lawns is the landscaping. Seventy-five percent of respondents state an increased desire to be at home after completing this type of project and experience an average Joy Score was 9.8.

To quote the local gardening guru, Ann Lovejoy writes in her book The Handbook of Northwest Gardening that “busy people need green havens, lovely places where they can be gracefully enveloped in the natural without stressing about weeds. Natural care is a way of gardening in cooperation with natural patterns and following principles of sustainable design [to provide] year-round gardens that provide beauty, style, and elegance with a modicum of work.”

The landscaping features that appeal most to our buying clientele are selection of trees/shrubs/plants, rock pathways/walls, ponds and water features, edible gardens and entertaining spaces that may hold a fire pit or permanent barbeque. The island supports several landscape architects and designers that can help create an outdoor space that brings harmony and peace to make a home site as peaceful extension of the indoor space.

#1: Lawns

This study shows how unique Bainbridge Island is compared to the national market; lawns just aren’t a feature of major concern that local buyers weigh when looking at homes, despite being the number one feature in the national study. A lush lawn may play a major role when buyers are shopping for a cookie cutter tract home in the median American home’s $240,000 price point, but not so on the island.

Rather, our buyers’ main concerns are floor plan, privacy, view, access to Winslow, road noise and the overall condition of the home. Our typical buyers have so much disposable income that, if a grassy spread is of high priority, they just improve what’s currently in place after taking ownership. In fact, I’ve had buyer clients express more concern about a yard not being level and consider bringing in an excavator to “fix it”.

Again, Lovejoy, writes that “lawns, like prairies, are not natural to this part of the world. Moss is. One might equally argue that lawn grasses ruin beautiful, thick, cushiony mosses. If you have a shady, mossy lawn, consider a novel idea. Instead of poisoning the moss, appreciate it. Add some sculptural rocks, ferns, and some shapely, compact rhododendrons [and other plants and trees] and watch that frustrating lawn become an artful, Japonesque moss garden.”

Spring Will Come Quick

So in anticipation of the wonderful weather we’ll see in 2017, consider increasing your property’s value and bring in a zen-like experience at the same time. When you eventually go to sell, this project will inspire potential buyers to feel at home before entering the house.

Here is the link to my post I referenced on home remodeling projects: 40 Ways to Enjoy Losing Money Before You Sell

To have a professional opinion on how to prioritize your property’s curb appeal with some outdoor improvements, contact me at or 206.399.3641.