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Is a Backyard Remodel Worth the Cost? 5 Tips for Sellers

Your backyard may be the last stop on your open house tour but does that mean you shouldn’t put as much effort into making it look as appealing as the front yard or the kitchen and bathroom? Read on to learn if remodeling your backyard is really worth the price.
Your backyard may be the last stop on your open house tour but does that mean you shouldn’t put as much effort into making it look as appealing as the front yard or the kitchen and bathroom? Read on to learn if remodeling your backyard is really worth the price.

Article after article and all the home renovation shows have drilled into your head that when selling your home, you need to focus on revamping the kitchen, bathroom, and master bedroom to get the highest return on your investment.

And while that trifecta is important in attracting interested buyers, you don’t exactly want to neglect the rest of your home hoping buyers won’t look in that one jam-packed closet or that they’ll forgive the major cracks in the driveway.

Buyers are dropping thousands upon thousands of dollars on a home; they’ll definitely look in that closet and mention the cracks in the driveway. And yes, buyers will also take a peek at your backyard. But is an entire backyard remodel actually worth the cost?

Like with most things, the answer is: it depends.

Major backyard remodel costs can range anywhere from $3,000 to $50,000 depending on what work you have done. Keep in mind, however, that generally, your landscaping work will add 5.5% to 12.7% to your home’s value. This means that on a $200,000 home, a backyard remodel can add an additional $11,000 to $25,400 value on your home.

Backyard remodels can add significantly to your resale value, but not all backyard renovations are equal. To get the best ROI know where to put your money and which backyard remodels you’ll want to skip.

1. Invest in a Deck or Patio

Buyers love a deck or a patio. And according to the 2019 Cost vs. Value Report from Remodeling Magazine, adding on a composite deck that costs $19,150 will provide a 69.1% return, or $13,232, when you sell. If you decide to go with a wooden deck, you’ll see even higher value with a 75.6% return.

When it comes to installing patios, a new 18x16 foot patio that costs around $7,200 will give you about 69% in return or about $5,000. With both decks and patios, your costs will go down if you’re simply refurbishing an existing deck or patio.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) also reports that decks increase liveability and enjoyment with 81% of people having a greater desire to be at home because of their deck. With patios, 83% have a greater sense of enjoyment being at home.

2. Skip the Swimming Pool

As much fun as a swimming pool is on a hot summer day, those couple refreshing dips in the pool aren’t worth the cost. Swimming pools traditionally have one of the worst returns on investment when it comes to backyard remodels seeing only around a 7% return.

Installing a pool costs between $35,516 and $65,067 on average, not to mention the costs for maintenance and upkeep that can set you back up to $1,800 a year. Plus, if you’re in a location that only sees nice weather a few months out of the year, a pool will add even less value to your home.

Similar to a pool, you’ll also want to bypass the backyard tennis court or wood-burning pizza oven as most buyers will write off your home due to the hassle and cost of upkeep for amenities they’ll likely only use once or twice.

3. DIY the Small Projects

If you’re even the slightest bit handy or can follow directions from a how-to video, you’ll be able to save a bundle on your backyard remodel. You can take charge of the smaller projects like planting flowers or trees, fertilizing, installing outdoor solar-powered lighting, or even staining and painting your own deck.

You can leave the big projects like laying sod, constructing a patio, or building a deck to the professionals, but before you begin your remodel and landscaping, make sure you have a long term plan and design in mind so your backyard looks cohesive and manicured.

4. Work With Nature

You can make your life a bit easier if you work with nature rather than against it. This means if you live in the Southwest where grass struggles to grow against the blazing sun, instead use rocks or stone to create an amazing backyard landscape.

Additionally, use native plants, trees, shrubs, and wildflowers as they will be less costly, easier to maintain, and hardier against the type of weather in your area. For instance, in colder climates, plant annuals that will come up each year without any effort on your part.

By planting native flora, your backyard landscaping will look more diverse, lush, and will cut down on upkeep making your home more appealing to buyers. And as a plus, plant fruit trees that are native to your location, buyers will eat it up — both figuratively and literally.

5. Tap Into the Buyer’s Imagination

Creating a welcoming outdoor space in your backyard will help the buyer envision all the backyard barbeques, chatting with friends on the deck, sipping wine on the back patio with their spouse, or making a home-cooked fresh dinner from the veggie garden.

Smart remodels to your backyard draws on a bit of nostalgia and imagination from the buyer helping to sell your home quickly and attract more offers. And it’s worth the cost — typically your backyard remodel costs about 5% to 10% of your home’s value and will increase your home’s resale value up to 15% or more, showing a 150% ROI.

Work With an Experienced Real Estate Agent

To help you recoup any expenses from your backyard remodel, partner with a local, experienced Clever Partner Agent who will know how to effectively market your home and the backyard additions to draw in multiple, competitive buyer offers.

And if you’re still deciding on what remodels to make in the backyard, your Partner Agent will work with you every step of the way, advising you on the best ways to see a high ROI so your home sells at the best price possible.

Plus, when you work with Clever you’ll see even more cost savings as our Partner Agents work for a flat fee of $3,000 or 1% if your home sells over $350,000, helping you save thousands on commission fees.



Andrew Schmeerbauch

Andrew Schmeerbauch is the Director of Marketing at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you top agents to save on commission. His focus is educating home buyers and sellers on navigating the complex world of real estate with confidence and ease. Andrew has worked on projects for the United Nations and USC and has a particular passion for investing and finance. Andrew's writing has been featured in Mashvisor, L&T, Ideal REI, and Rentometer.

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