6 ways your outdoors can add value

Here are some cost effective alterations you can make that will maximise exterior appeal to buyers, and therefore your eventual sale price.

1. First impressions last.

Where often a coat of paint and a thorough deep clean can work wonders – what about outside? One of the oldest real estate rules is making sure your house looks its best from the street as that’s where first impressions are formed. Make sure gardens and lawns are tidy; fences, gates and mailboxes are in good condition, driveways and paths are free of mildew and there’s a clear access to the front door. But beyond that, what are the exterior features that can turn open home viewers into buyers?

Below are a few suggestions, along with ways to achieve them quickly and where possible, inexpensively. As with any pre-sale home improvements, make sure you stick to your budget to make sure any spend is going to come back to you, ideally plus some, in the sale price.

2. Go with the flow.

Indoor-outdoor flow might be one of the most-used property descriptions, but that’s because it is one the most valued features of residential property buyers. If your budget – and profit margin – don’t allow for a full makeover for French doors and a deck you can still make some easy improvements to bring the outdoors in.

Make sure your windows are freshly cleaned and curtains are pulled well back to maximise natural light. If you’re blessed with a sunny, warm open home day, have as many doors and windows open as possible.

If possible, make sure your back door opens to some sort of deck or paved patio area that then flows on to your lawn and keep any back steps free of clutter and well maintained.

The point is, even if you don’t have a huge view of the outdoors from inside, that it should feel as though it’s easy and fuss-free to move between the two.

3. Make your section look usable and inviting.

Whether your section is small or large don’t just present it as a blank canvas for buyers. Just as with your home interior you need to present each outdoor area in a way that connects with prospective buyers and helps them imagine themselves living there.

If you have a large section divide it into ‘rooms’ designed to appeal to your target audience – such as an outdoor dining area, a kids play area, a vegetable garden. Keep them simple and unfussy – and consider hiring appropriate outdoor furniture just as you might use staged furnishings indoors.

Design and place the areas based on their accessibility from indoors, and which areas get the most sun at different times of the day.

4. Keep it all clear of clutter.

This is even more important with small space. Show buyers what can be done with it, with clever use of furniture, plants or lighting, rather than have them focus on what can’t be done in a small space.

If your only outdoor space is an apartment balcony, buyers will want to see how it can be used. Showcase it with plenty of plants in pots or keep it purely functional with a good outdoor table and chair set.

5. Make it appear as low maintenance as possible.

It’s a good thing to remember across the board with outdoor features of any property. Almost every buyer’s dream is to find a home with a fantastic, usable section that requires them only to relax and enjoy it, rather than spend hours toiling in it.

Make sure everything is trimmed, weeded, freshly painted and free of mildew.

Consider adding easy-care gardens to reduce the amount of lawn that needs mowing and trimming and talk to a garden expert about the kind of plants that can make your garden looking inviting without requiring hours of hands-on attention.

6. Special features.

One of the questions we are asked most about ahead of listing property is do special features such as pools or pizza ovens add significant value to houses. As with any other aspect of selling, it all comes down to your target market.

If you don’t have an existing pool or spa, it’s probably not worth the time and expense of having one installed. Many buyers are often even put off by the amount of maintenance a pool requires. And definitely don’t force one in for the sake of it if you don’t really have space. If you do have a pool it is definitely worth spending a little to make sure it’s looking it’s best.

Other smaller extras like pizza ovens or barbecues can be worth investing in, but the general guide would be to stay away from anything too “trendy” and go for a good classic, quality barbecue.

But keep tight control and your spend, and think it through thoroughly. It could be enough to set up a stylish inviting outdoor entertaining area with good lighting, shelter and seating so buyers think “all that’s missing there is an outdoor heater/pizza oven/barbecue”. It may be enough to get them excited enough to consider making an offer.