Spring is the season to get head outdoors and enjoy the smell of freshly cut lawns and blooming flowers. As many homeowners get ready to spend their time and hard-earned cash on improving their landscaping for a fresh start, it's also a great time to think about which outdoor projects provide the best return on investment (ROI).
There are many outdoor features that can help owners enjoy living in their homes, but not all of them will add value for all future buyers. For example, swimming pools might be fun for families who aren't afraid of consistent maintenance and added costs, but they could send some buyers running. Investing in curb appeal, however, almost always pays off.
"First impressions are everything," said Jessica Lautz, managing director of survey research and communications with the National Association of Realtors (NAR). "Even in landscaping, we want to attract the homebuyer."
These days, that initial impression often comes in the form of an online listing photo. According to a recent NAR report, viewing homes online is the first step for buyers, with the vast majority of people saying that photos were the most important part of their online research. If a home doesn't have the most well-kept and well-photographed exterior on the block, online shoppers could be more likely to move on the next online listing.
Another part of keeping up with the Joneses, of course, is understanding the outdoor trends that are popular in a particular area.
"In Miami, homeowners want to live outdoors equally as they live indoors," said landscape architect Deena Bell Llewellyn, president of Bell Landscape Architecture and president-elect of the Florida Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. In South Florida, where she works, Llewellyn said homeowners are looking to open their homes completely so that the line between interior and exterior is erased.
"Landscape architects really get into the 'hardscape' design for the exteriors," she said. "Specific things clients really want are outdoor kitchens -- very sophisticated outdoor kitchens that might have the same types of appliances they have indoors, outdoor televisions with full sound, and lighting outdoors and outdoor fireplaces or conversation pits that act as part of an outdoor living room."
Thinking of taking the plunge on an outdoor improvement this year? Check out these 10 projects that could add value to your home today and in the future.