Advice from Across the Pond: An English Agent’s Tips for Buyers When Considering Grounds
While buyers will always be concerned with indoor spaces when pondering making an offer, gardens and grounds are more and more important these days. So, what should people look for when touring a property’s outdoor spaces so they don’t find themselves wondering if the grass is greener elsewhere?
Known throughout the centuries for their immaculate gardens, who is better to advise on the matter than a real estate expert from England? Louise Ridings of Stacks Property Search says, “It’s not unusual for half the value of a property to be in its garden, and it’s often the case that the plot is worth more than the property. The balance is likely to swing further in the direction of plot value over property value. The importance of the garden will literally grow and grow.”
Already this summer, Betty White’s former LA residence sold for over asking based on the land value without any show of the interiors. Bottom line: Don’t overlook a home’s lot and grounds when buying. Without further ado, here are Riding’s top tips for assessing a property and making the best decision possible.
1. Size Up If You Can
While house-hunting, you may be fine with having a quaint garden, but that may not be the best move for re-sale down the line. Ridings asserts, “Buyers should pay great attention to plot when looking at a property with a view to buying. Size is obviously important.”
“Too big for your needs is much easier to remedy than too small. A garden that’s larger than necessary can be allowed to go wild and require little upkeep. But a garden that’s too small will compromise the property’s value, even if you don’t want much garden space yourself.”
2. Analyze the Shape, Slope, and Aspect
Having a larger garden may not always be possible, but grounds gain value in other ways. What is the view like? How steep is the sloping? “Shape, access, aspect, accessibility, and gradient are vital; views from the garden and what it is overlooked by are also important considerations.”
“Aspect shouldn’t be ignored; when viewing a property check which way the garden faces, where the sun rises and sets, and whether any adjacent trees or properties will be blocking your light and sunshine.”
“Gradient can be an issue, but a lot can be done with terracing, and some gradient can actually improve the potential for creating different areas and spaces, and adding interest.”
3. Keep an Eye Toward What You’ll Grow
All generations are getting into gardening, and people are especially loving growing their own fruits, herbs, and vegetables. You can create a farm-to-table lifestyle at home this way, but it all starts with land that can accommodate this.
Ridings says, “The pandemic has turned a whole generation into keen vegetable growers, so give consideration to where you might position vegetable beds and utility space for composting, shed space, and storage of paraphernalia. Veg gardening provides food, mental and physical health well-being, and a great pastime. It’s a triple win. And we’re seeing more and more homeowners hiving off bits of their gardens for wildlife, re-wilding on a mini scale, swapping immaculate lawns for wild flowers, bees, and butterflies in glorious chaos.”
4. Room for More?
The pandemic also heightened the desire for separate spaces for working from home or having fun with hobbies. Even if you don’t plan to build something right away, having the potential never hurts.
“Space for an outside office, or habitable shed is a great asset and an excellent way of adding secondary accommodation that can be dramatically less expensive, and more flexible, than adding an extension to the property itself. Check if you are going to need planning permission with your local authority.”
5. Imagine Options for the Front
Gardens aren’t all meant to be tucked away, private and out of sight. It can be fun and social to create destinations for outdoor enjoyment at the front of the house. Ridings urges buyers not to ignore this area and instead think of if a table or set of chairs can find a home comfortably. The agent claims it’s a “great way of meeting the neighbors and engaging in spontaneous and low-key ‘street-socialising’, so much easier than a dinner party!”
Whether you’re an avid gardener, someone who likes to entertain, or simply looking to buy a home with the highest potential for value growth, grounds are key. You don’t have to house hunt in England to find homes with stunning grounds, and no matter where you’re looking, don’t be afraid of a blank canvas. Starting from scratch with landscaping can be an exciting endeavor and a true passion project to continually work on months or years to come.