Most of us are well aware of the basic elements that define a home’s value, but kitchens, bathrooms and school catchment areas aren’t the only things that have buyers digging deep at offer time. According to Tony Clarke, MD of the Rawson Property Group, there are a huge number of less obvious factors that influence the desirability of a property.
Here are four of his favourites that catch a lot of sellers by surprise:
“It’s amazing how many homeowners underestimate the value of their outdoor areas,” says Clarke. “Established gardens with thoughtful landscaping elements are a huge value-add to homes, as are neat and attractive walkways, pretty off-street parking areas and convenient garden storage spots.”
While Clarke says it’s impossible to pinpoint an exact ROI for landscaping improvements, online sources cite statistics anywhere from 100% to 1000% returns.
“As a rule of thumb, it’s suggested that homeowners invest around 10% of their property value in landscaping if possible, but this does vary depending on the specifics of your home,” says Clarke. “It’s a great discussion to have with your real estate agent – they can advise you on norms for your neighbourhood, and give you tips on how to stand out without spending too much.”
Keep in mind, landscaping improvements that appear high-maintenance can have the opposite of the desired effect on your sales price. Clarke recommends aiming for attractive but manageable features, and leaving the sculptural topiaries and exotic rose displays to professionally-maintained show gardens.
Trees are another green touch that can add surprising value to homes and neighbourhoods, and not only because they clean our air, attract bird life, and keep our streets shady and cool.
“Mature, well-kept trees are typically associated with affluent neighbourhoods,” says Clarke. “A side-effect of that is that the more trees there are in an area, the more value buyers tend to perceive in its homes.”
Whether the tall, leafy beauties are in your own garden or lining your street, putting a little effort into keeping them strong and healthy can go a long way towards achieving the sales price of your dreams.
Walkability is a trend that has been growing in strength over the last few years. Clarke says homes within an easy stroll of shops, restaurants, parks and public gardens are now highly sought-after and highly-valued as a result.
“People don’t want to have to hop in their car every time they want to grab a beer with friends, or pick up a loaf of bread anymore,” he says. “The more self-sufficient your neighbourhood, the more people are willing to pay to live in it – particularly in suburbs with younger, trendier residents.”
While nobody expects homeowners start opening neighbourhood pubs to improve their saleability, Clarke says keeping the streets clean, safe and attractive is something in which everyone can take part.
“Get involved in neighbourhood watches, litter clean-ups and park initiatives,” he suggests, “and try taking the kids and the dogs out for a stroll in your own neighbourhood instead of driving somewhere else.”
Street and House Names
Buyers aren’t only influenced by the physical attractions of a home or neighbourhood. According to Clarke, even the name of your street can have an influence on your property’s value.
“It’s all about perception,” says Clarke. “Streets and roads sound pretty ordinary, but avenues, drives and hills sound a little more high-brow. Likewise, properties with a name rather than just a number tend to be viewed as unique or special, and achieve better sales prices when marketed as such.”
While South African statistics are scarce on this subject, UK surveys have shown street and house names can boost home values by as much as 5%. Not a bad return on investment for mounting a nameplate next to your front door!