A wide range of factors come into play when selling an investment property. The garden, oftentimes sidelined as a nice-to-have, has an enormous influence on potential buyers’ perception of your property. Knowing how to enhance its best features is key to leaving a lasting impression – and, hopefully, get the offers rolling in.
Get rid of clutter
In much the same way as clutter inside the home can turn off potential buyers, the garden’s general tidiness has a big role to play. Keep in mind that most buyers will be looking at your property as a future home. In many cases, the garden is the first impression a buyer will get of your home – make sure it’s a good one.
The first step would be to make sure the lawn (if you have one) is neat. Get rid of overgrown shrubs and prune back trees that are blocking walkways, doors or windows. If your garden is filled with pots and trinkets, consider getting rid of some of them. While you may love them, they may very well be overwhelming to a prospective buyer.
Craig Hutchison of Engel and Völkers explains that renovating or adding to a property won’t always result in a higher sales price: “However certain renovations add value immediately, some small and exterior-focused improvements offer better value than larger challenging renovations.” While landscaping and pools can add value to a home, depending on its location and price point, decking is sure to add a few bucks to your eventual selling price.
According to Hutchinson, decking or a patio can offer as much as 133% ROI. Creating a useable and attractive deck or patio invites prospective buyers to envisage the seamless flow of the home into the garden. But how do you choose the right type of material?
As much as a good deck or paving can help your cause, a bad one could create the impression of low quality in the home as a whole. Choosing durable and timeless materials is crucial if you want to add real value.
Peter Bissett, owner of KwaZulu-Natal timber construction company Cottage Concepts, highlights a few points to consider when installing wooden decking
- Do not accept a deck that bounces when walked over. Your tea should remain in its cup and not spill out into the saucer or the deck.
- Balustrade posts should be bolted to the sub-structure and not nailed, as they will eventually come loose.
- The balustrade should not have any gaps through which a 100mm diameter ball would fit.
- Any part of the deck that is higher than 1m off the ground requires a balustrade.
- Timber structures should have space of at least 450mm below the decking for air to flow around the timber. Where this is not possible, try to keep the timber above soil.
When it comes to outdoor flooring, you have three main choices: wooden decking, pavement, or tiles. Depending on the space, one of these will most likely prove to be most practical.
If you’re looking to add outdoor flooring around a pool or hot tub, it’s best to steer clear of slippery tiles. Areas that are exposed to the weather might be more suited to pavement, unless you’re willing to put in the time to properly maintain a deck.
Whichever route you choose, experts predict that buyers are increasingly aware of low-maintenance gardens: “”I am involved with many developers who are adjusting their products to properties with smaller gardens requiring less maintenance. These changes have been positively accepted by the market, which realises that water scarcity is the new norm in Cape Town. Both owner occupiers and investor buyers have responded positively to smaller, lower maintenance gardens,” says Rowan Alexander of Alexander Swart Properties.
While the water crisis in the Western Cape has placed it under a magnifying glass, the need for more water-friendly gardens is becoming more important around the country.
Top tips for choosing a deck
While wooden decks are the classic choice, you can also opt for more environmentally friendly options. Composite decking is one to consider. Made up of recycled plastic and wood, these decks are more durable and less likely to splinter.
Sure, it might seem like a simple job, but trying to install a deck without the necessary skills and equipment could cause more harm than good. Find an installer that has the necessary credentials and experience.
Keep in mind where the deck will be used. Use this as a guideline for size and materials. If you’re planning on installing the deck as a seating area, ensure there’s enough space to comfortably move around. If the deck will be installed next to a pool, ensure the surface isn’t too smooth as to make it a slipping hazard.
Wooden decking requires regular maintenance. Different types of wood will age differently, with some being more hardened for outdoor use than others. While the initial appearance of the deck is important, keep future maintenance in mind when making your final decision.