When preparing to put your house up for sale, or just looking to maximise the property's value, you probably realise some changes need to be made to maximise the selling price. You will scrub & clean, paint, polish and maybe even de-clutter. You will make sure the house is spick and span, ready for inspection by the hordes of eager buyers you anticipate beating a path to your door.
Aside from elbow crease, bigger projects such as loft conversions, new kitchens, and bedrooms are all proven ways of adding value to your property but, by concentrating on the interior of the house, you may be missing a trick and, worse, leaving money on the table. It's time for you to take a look outside. At the garden.
Homeowners often under-estimate the importance of the garden and the value it can add, or conversely subtract, from the property. Yet the front garden will present the all-important first impression of the house whilst the gardens to the rear of the property is the icing on the cake.
The back garden
This area is especially valuable and a bit of landscaping works wonders. Ensure the lawn is lush and even, replace worn areas with new turf or even consider a full re-turfing project if the garden hasn't had the attention it deserves recently. Trim hedges, clear every weed, and restock the flower beds. Even if it's winter you can buy an array of plants from your local garden centre which will make an attractive display.
These improvements are cheap and easy to do yet you will be repaid in spades (pun intended). Studies estimate a well-manicured garden can add between 1&2% to the value of a property. In pounds and pence that could mean an additional £3798 on the average UK selling price of £189,901. A significant return for the amount of work involved.
Don't go overboard
We have seen that garden improvements will raise the value of your property and also make it easier to sell. But, a note of caution. Don't spend more money than you will recoup. For example, adding costly features such as decking or ornate fountains may make the garden even more spectacular but they won't push the value up exponentially; you will make back less than you lay out.
In a similar vein don't build an extension thinking the extra room will rocket the value. By building over the back garden you could actually be reducing the value of the house in real terms and you won't recoup your investment. Outdoor space is highly valued, especially today when most new builds only have tiny gardens, so if you have a decent sized back garden make the most of it.
This doesn't seem right but.....
The front garden is an interesting area. As the first thing a potential buyer sees it is vital that it is neat and tidy. Grass should be mown, plants kept clear of weeds and make sure there are no kids’ toys or old car tyres around for people to fall over. Keeping the front garden tidy will increase the kerb appeal of the house and create a great first impression.
However, and this may seem to fly in the face of everything I've written above, there is a case for tearing up the front lawn and flowers and pouring concrete over the whole lot. Bear with me.
It sounds drastic but, in the urban areas of big cities, parking spaces can be hard to find. By concreting the front garden and providing access by lowering the kerb (don't forget to apply for planning permission) you create a highly prized and valuable parking space. Getting the work done isn't cheap but it will add a premium to the property presenting a big return on your investment. So, I guess we can legitimately call it a garden improvement... of sorts.
Finish the job
Remember, whatever your plan for your outside spaces are, potential buyers want to see the finished product. They want to be able to sit on a bench and look out over flower beds in bloom. An unkempt or neglected garden will only put people off. They won't 'see the potential' they will just mentally reduce their offer or even walk away. Tidying and landscaping your gardens is definitely worth your while and could well be more money in the bank.