It used to be that impressive chef’s kitchens and massive, walk-in closets were at the top of every buyer’s list as they searched for homes, but a new home feature has made a sharp rise through the ranks as Americans reflect on lifestyle changes as a result of the pandemic: The number one home feature buyers are after in 2023 is a backyard, according to a new report by home search site Zillow
Backyards are now mentioned in property listings 22% more often than they were in listings last year, Zillow’s data found, indicating that sellers and their agents are capitalizing on this desire in the market.
“The rising popularity of outdoor features suggests the pandemic has changed the way we want to live for good, priming the backyard for a 2023 evolution,” said Amanda Pendleton, Zillow’s home trends expert, in a release announcing the report. “When the pandemic forced all entertaining outdoors, homeowners reclaimed their backyards from the kids or the dogs. Now they’re rethinking how that space could serve as an extension of their home in new, creative ways.”
Having a backyard to highlight is a great advantage for home-sellers—but there are ways to make that property asset even more valuable, whether you’re planning to sell now or in the future. (The advantage of making upgrades sooner rather than later is that you can enjoy your updated outdoor space
“Investing in strategic upgrades to areas of your home like your yard can help enhance your home atmosphere, improve your quality of life, and may increase your home’s resale value,” says Courtney Klosterman, home insights expert at Hippo
, a home insurance group focused on proactive home care.
Here, we’ll take a look at the evolution of the backyard from a nice-to-have to a must-have, plus highlight the features you can add to your yard to make it even more appealing to buyers.
Related: 13 Fantastic Small Backyard Ideas
The Rising Interest in Backyards
The 2022 report by Zillow found that one out of every five home listings on the site mentioned the backyard as a feature of the home, showing that sellers and agents are paying attention to the increased interest in outdoor space—and working to meet the demand.
“When the phrase ‘shelter in place’ became our new norm, the outdoors became more important than ever. Not only for our sanity (families inside for extended periods of time), but also, we were encourage to be outside to exercise and to gain Vitamin D,” says Sandra Harvey
, a Realtor with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers. “The sunshine was very important for our physical and mental health. People did not want to visit parks and other public areas. They wanted to be at home.”
There was also a 7% increase in mentions of private spaces in listings, Pendleton says, suggesting that home buyers are interested in being able to enjoy their outdoor living areas while still enjoying some privacy from neighbors.
One helpful trend to point out is size is less important than function in outdoor spaces.
“The area does not need to be large or over-sized to attract a buyer,” Harvey says. “Some buyers prefer a smaller, beautiful space without spending a lot of time on the upkeep.”
Related: 10 Landscaping Projects That Add Value to Your Home
How to Upgrade Your Outdoor Space (for Yourself and for Resale)
Just like staging your home
, emphasizing a backyard as a selling point is all about helping a potential buyer envision their life in that space. To that end, there are tons of ways you can help a buyer see the variety of options available by bringing in certain features to elevate the area.
Pendleton points out you can make small upgrades by adding something like a modest fire pit or go all in with an outdoor kitchen. Of course, you shouldn’t invest in these backyard features if you’re simply doing it to sell your home. These suggestions are just something to keep in mind as you consider resale, but you should also prioritize your household’s preferences. The point is, if you want to cook s’mores with your family all summer, it’s great to set up your yard to accommodate that pastime, because chances are good that other buyers would love to do the same—but if your family won’t enjoy an outdoor fire feature, you’re better off investing in something you will use and love.
Related: The 12 Best Fire Pits of 2023 for a Toasty Outdoor Hangout
The features home sellers highlight the most may surprise you: The same Zillow data showed an increase in mentions of patios (13%) and pools (11%) in listings. There was also an increase in mentions for covered porches, verandas, gardens, and fenced backyards.
“It’s not clear if people are adding these features or just more likely to highlight them,” Pendleton points out, meaning people may not have added these features just to sell their homes—but they did recognize the value of highlighting them in their home listings.
Pools had fallen out of favor in past years, Pendleton says, because many buyers viewed them as a maintenance headache. Now, however, they’re seeing a resurgence, she says, as trends like the cocktail or plunge pool
offer less costly pool options.
Another interesting twist is that some previously prized backyard features are actually being mentioned less often in listings. These include balconies, roof decks, and the all-American picket fence.
“Again, these features are not going away, but maybe just falling out of favor and being mentioned less frequently,” Pendleton says.
“Buyers are really seeking out sustainable maintenance,” Pendleton says. “We found that homes that mention turf can sell for 1.1% more than expected and eight days faster than similar homes, meanwhile homes with drought-proof landscaping can sell nine days faster. Drought-resistant landscaping doesn’t have to be a hardscape, some use native plants. It’s simply a style of landscape.”
Not sure which project to tackle in your backyard? Pendleton suggests asking a local agent about the kinds of features that are popular in your area.
Related: 14 Ideas for Creating an Outdoor Oasis
Don’t Neglect Curb Appeal
Beyond the Zillow report, there are several more ways you can upgrade your outdoor space to improve sellability. Trends are always shifting, and going after forward-looking trend predictions (such as the addition of a sitooterie) can help set you up for future selling success.
“It is more important to keep what you have maintained. Fresh ground covering ie., pinestraw, mulch, etc,” Harvey says. “Keeping the shrubs and trees trimmed, remove debris, freshly cut grass and edging. If you are selling a home, the first impression is what the buyer sees as soon as they have your home in view.
”Consider adding walkways, enhancing your home with outdoor lighting, and focusing on landscaping.
“Landscaping makes a massive difference in your space’s look, livability, and overall monetary value,” Klosterman says. “Upgrading your outdoor space takes time and money, but it’s a great way to make the most of your property—and set your home up for stronger resale.
”Want to make some other quick improvements to your yard that don’t involve a lot of money? Klosterman suggests spraying for bugs, trimming trees, power washing your home, and installing smart tech such as motion-detector lights, cameras, and doorbells. And don’t forget to keep on top of regular maintenance such as mowing, reseeding, and fertilizing your lawn: Hippo data estimates that doing all of these projects will take less than 12 hours total, but they can have an enormous impact on your home’s appeal.
Related: Make Your Yard a Relaxing Oasis by Adding an Outdoor Wellness Space
This blog was written by Kristine Gill and published to www.bhg.com on March 9, 2023. The Keri White Team has no rights to this blog or the content. This is for resource purposes only.