When selling a home, we tend to focus on improving the structure itself in order to appeal to prospective buyers. While the building is certainly important, most buyers are also highly concerned with its outdoor space. Since landscaping can make or break a sale, keep these important factors in mind when trying to sell real estate:

Is it in demand? The law of supply and demand states that when something is in short supply, the demand for it (and therefore the price) will be greater. If the property is located in a tightly packed urban area, having usable outdoor space will make it more valuable. Of course, demographics are important too. Young families with children, for example, are more likely to place high value on outdoor space.

Is it accessible? Your landscaped area will contribute more to the home’s overall value if it is usable for most of the year (as it should be here in Southern California). The area should also be easily accessed from rooms such as the living room or kitchen.

Is it private? Most potential buyers will value privacy in an outdoor setting, so plan patio or recreation spaces in the backyard, and consider installing a fence, wall, hedge or other natural barrier.

Is there a view? Naturally, you can’t just pick up the property and move it so that you suddenly have a view of mountains or a lake. But it’s something to consider before you build any structure, which could obstruct the view. If you do have a nice view from the yard, consider the placement of a deck or patio so that seating areas take best advantage of it.

Is the yard in good condition? An unkempt yard can turn off potential buyers, so make sure someone is professionally maintaining the landscaping. A yard that isn’t being well maintained can be a quick turn-off to potential buyers who aren’t interested in inheriting a large and expensive fix-up project. Planting colorful annuals 2-3 months before you list and adding a fresh layer of bark mulch will make the area look lively and appealing.

Do you have trees? Many buyers prefer properties with trees, because they add shade and privacy to the home. Trees also provide wind and noise blocks, and can reduce cooling costs in the summer. Of course, improperly maintained trees could be seen as a messy hassle or even a safety concern. So be sure that your trees are trimmed and maintained correctly.

How can the space be used? Attractive landscaping is obviously a plus, but it’s even better if it can be used in some way. Outdoor kitchens provide a perfect spot for entertaining, play areas are great for children or grandchildren, and water features or fire pits make for relaxing environments. Having multiple functional outdoor rooms can be a huge selling feature for the home.

How much work is it? Some prospective buyers may be enthusiastic gardeners, but the majority of people want an attractive, usable landscape that isn’t too difficult to maintain. Installing features like drip irrigation, low water landscaping, and hardy low-maintenance plants can make a world of difference in selling a particular property.

Once you improve your property’s landscaping, don’t forget to talk it up to potential buyers. While they’re sure to notice its beauty right away, pointing out how the space can be used will give buyers a mental picture of what it would be like to live in the home. If you have the original landscaping plan or contact information for the professionals who did the installation, include that in the sales listing as it can be an additional incentive to buy from you rather than one of your neighbors!

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