How do you turn a liability – a small back yard – into an asset?
Although some buyers prefer no back yard or as little yard as possible, the vast majority of home buyers, especially those looking to purchase in the suburbs, want a home with a back yard big enough so kids can have room to play.
In 2015 our son Adam and daughter-in-law Cheri decided they wanted to move to a bigger home. Four kids in a 1,200 square foot home makes for cramped living conditions. Our daughter-in-law had purchased her current home when she was single with only one child. Because she had to care for the home herself, a small back yard was something she wanted. The home she purchased had a tiny back yard – literally about 800 square feet – barely big enough to even get a mower in the back yard.
Cheri and Adam married about a year after she bought the home and promptly decided to have more kids. After 4 years and three new kids, space for the kids to play was becoming important.
I originally listed their house on the market in 2014 but one thing we kept getting complaints on was the very small size of the back yard. It was not very usable space – it was split level, had overhanging trees and shrubs, and just was not an inviting place to play, especially for toddlers.
We pulled the house off the market and decided to make a few changes. First up was to turn the back yard from a liablity into an asset. How? By adding a huge deck to the back yard! We decided to deck basically the entire yard, turning it into a single level living space where the kids could play and the family could enjoy grilling on the deck and inviting friends over.
My son and husband went to work, designing and building a fabulous deck on a budget. They spent a few weekends working together, setting posts, building the subframe, and then installing the decking and railing. After about $2,000 of lumber and a few weekends of work, my son and daughter-in-law now had a fabulous deck that the kids loved. Before the deck was built the family would seldom go out in the back yard. Once the deck was built the kids would play in the back yard every day and Adam and Cheri regularly ate dinner on the back deck and invite friends over to spend time enjoying their little back yard haven.
A year after the deck was completed, Adam and Cheri decided to put their house on the market again, hoping they could sell it this time and move to a bigger home. This time their house sold in 2 days at a higher price than the year before, and the beautiful deck was one of the key selling points. It actually sold to the first people who looked at the home before we could even get the sign in the yard!
So if you have a feature of your house that is a negative, think of ways to turn it into a positive. Some things are not worth the investment but some are. Consult your professional real estate advisor to be sure you’re making the worthwhile improvements for a quick sale!