Is your garden adding value to your home? A “for sale” sign along with the fresh scent of several yards of beauty-bark and some perennials desperately shoved into the dirt is a sad but familiar scene. Nice try, but no one is fooled by that trick–especially not a property assessor.
A strong investment in a garden shows in your final resale price, especially if it is well-designed, established and maintained. After I purchased my home and redesigned the garden spaces, the value increased significantly. Over time, I can also see that my home has increased in value at a more rapid rate than others in the neighborhood. When I recently refinanced, I was able to learn the details of how your landscape figures into an actual assessment of property value.
The assessor explained that the landscape of an individual house is compared to other landscapes within the neighborhood, similar to how some of the other quality-related characteristics of a property are evaluated. When the landscape quality exceeds the average in the neighborhood the margin of that difference is added to the value of the property. Similarly, neglected or outdated landscapes detract from the value. The actual amount is different for each home and neighborhood but can be as much as 10%. You can experiment with this by looking at properties you are familiar with on Zillow.
If resale value is among your objectives, your landscape design can be a considerable asset. Be cautious about more extravagant features–such as fish ponds–as they pose a maintenance issue for a potential buyer and as such might not add much to the monetary value of the property. In the end, paying for cover ups does not add value. Investing in the longer term need not be expensive or elaborate to have a great pay-off, and you get to enjoy the investment along the way!