How to Use Outdoor Space To Sell Your Home

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Humorist Fran Lebowitz once wrote,

"The outdoors is what you have to go through to get from the apartment into the taxi."

But she's an exception. When considering a new property, nearly every homebuyer considers the outdoors in some way as a requirement for a property they're considering.

If the buyer is looking for a home in the suburbs, they want to know about the size of the lot, access to the yard, whether or not there's a pool, or the location of the lot in relation to the neighborhood.

Some buyers love properties on corner lots; others, not so much. In more urban areas, buyers want to know if a property has any outdoor space at all and, if not, where is the nearest park?

Big Cities, Small Spaces

Just having some outdoor access doesn't always do the trick, either, unless you're in a large city like New York, where private outdoor space is few and far between and therefore something to be coveted. New York City apartments with a deeded, usable outdoor space often sell for 20 to 30 percent more than the same apartment without the highly sought-after outdoor access.

The key word when identifying the value of outdoor space is "usable." Having usable -- easily accessible -- outdoor space from the house, that can be enjoyed most of the year, definitely helps sell a property. This is why, if you're a seller and you've got the goods, you should make the extra effort to showcase your deck, yard or patio.

If you have outdoor space but it's detached from the property -- like a backyard one floor below a condo, to which you have rights but no easy access -- you should still point it out to potential buyers. Just realize that they aren't likely to pay as much for your place as they might for a similarly configured and priced property that offers direct, easy outdoor access.

Living room or great room that opens to outdoors? Jackpot!



Some of the most valuable outdoor spaces are in areas accessible directly from the best parts of the home, usually the kitchen/living area or the great room/media room. These are the places where people tend to hang out the most. Having an outdoor space directly off a communal, desirable part of the house serves as an extension of that living area. And if designed correctly, it will give the inside living area the appearance of more square feet.

If you're selling and you have this outdoor real estate gold, focus your staging/prepping time on it. Much like giving the front of the home curb appeal, pay extra attention to the outdoor spaces. People love to entertain, especially during the warmer months. So it's important to show potential buyers how they can live and use this space.


How to Highlight Your Outdoor Space



Here are a few things sellers can do to bring out the best in your outdoor space:

Add comfortable-looking, inviting outdoor furniture.

Is your stereo system hooked up to outdoor speakers? If so, be sure to point this out. Play music (softly) outdoors during an open house.

Have a backyard grill? Make sure it's clean and prominently displayed.

Landscape! Plant flowers, pull weeds, thin out any scraggly trees and bushes, and make sure the grass is freshly mowed.

Consider low-maintenance lawn alternatives. Turf grasses and ground covers can be an easy way to make your lawn more attractive. They're low-maintenance as well, which many busy professionals today will appreciate. And lawn alternatives can be, ironically, "green" -- eliminating the need for herbicides and gas-powered lawnmowers.

This might sound extreme, but you might also consider adding a deck or patio to your backyard if you don't have one. It's an investment, to be sure, but one that often pays for itself and then some.

Properties these days take longer to sell, and outdoor space is an asset. Consider it an extension of your home. The nicer it looks, the better the interior of your home will look -- and, with luck, the easier your job of selling will be.

Read more on Zillow:
Long Weekend Project: DIY Patio
Outdoor Luxury Spaces Provide Perfect Escape
How to Pick a Real Estate Agent That Suits Your Needs

Brendon DeSimone is a Realtor and real estate expert based in San Francisco and New York. He is a contributor to Zillow Blog, has collaborated on multiple real estate books and is often quoted by major media outlets. Follow Brendon on Twitter.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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How to Use Outdoor Space To Sell Your Home

Recent reports on the housing market suggest that real estate prices may finally be close to hitting bottom, with at least one expert predicting that national median prices will tick up this year for the first time since the housing bust. 

For some towns, price recoveries have been in the works for some time. Florida, in particular, lays claim to quite a few markets that appear to be firing on all cylinders, and posting the price gains to show for it.

With the help of our friends at Realtor.com, AOL Real Estate brings you homes from the metro areas that posted the greatest year-over-year median price increases in February, as measured by Realtor.com listings. If a national price recovery is happening, these are some of the towns leading the charge. 

Location: Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla.
Median Price Increase: 14.47 percent

Home Price: $5.479 million
Beds/Baths: 5/7
Sq. Ft.: 5,286

This home, apparently recognized as a local architectural achievement, uses the material terrazzo, a combination of granite or marble and concrete, for its indoor and outdoor flooring. 

See the listing for more details

Highlights of the home include its gourmet kitchen, master bedroom, master bath, entertainment areas, office and exercise space. Need we mention the views? 

See the listing for more details

Location: Daytona Beach, Fla. 
Median Price Increase: 15.56 percent

Home Price: $7.7 million
Beds/Baths: 4/10
Sq. Ft.: 13,654

Commanding a long, lavishly-landscaped driveway, this "new traditional" epitomizes the "good life" in Daytona Beach. 

See the listing for more details

The gated home has its own dock and and a generous stretch of waterfront.

See the listing for more details

Location: Fort Myers-Cape Coral, Fla. 
Median Price Increase: 15.59 percent

Home Price: $8.7 million
Beds/Baths: 6/13
Sq. Ft.: 13,723

This home is a behemoth. But while it may stretch 13,723 square feet, you're never far from a bathroom. There are 13. 

See the listing for more details

The home is steeped in luxury inside and out. Exhibit A: a nine-car garage. 

See the listing for more details

Location: Naples, Fla. 
Median Price Increase: 15.67 percent

Home Price: $11.95 million
Beds/Baths: 5/8
Sq. Ft.: 7,890

She's not hard to look at, is she? One of the many things this mouth-watering residence has going for it is its gigantic, resort-style pool. The home also has 127 feet of waterfront, and its many columns, inside and out, give the place regal flair. 

See the listing for more details

As far as amenities, we say the theater room and library top the list. 

See the listing for more details

Location: Boise City, Idaho
Median Price Increase: 16.28 percent

Home Price: $1.25 million
Beds/Baths: 4/6
Sq. Ft.: 6,984

Sitting on a hilltop perch, this sprawling log-built home commands five acres of woodsy Boise real estate. 

See the listing for more details

The place is brimming with interior detail, including cherry floors, built-in cabinets and sound system, "forged-nickel hardware" and crystal chandeliers. 

See the listing for more details

Location: Washington, D.C.
Median Price Increase: 18.45 percent 

Home Price: $7.495 million
Beds/Baths: 6/8
Sq. Ft.: 9,710

Throw down for this stately manse and you'll win the right to call Joe Biden neighbor. Vicey himself lives in the neighborhood. The Tudor-style home has 17-inch stone walls that are stitched with timber and brick. 

See the listing for more details, or see AOL Real Estate's full profile on the home

The home's interior has ebony-stained floors, and amenities include a library, breakfast room, great room, "executive kitchen," gymnasium and au pair room. 

See the listing for more details

Location: West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, Fla. 
Median Price Increase: 18.48 percent

Home Price: $3.4 million
Beds/Baths: 6/7
Sq. Ft.: 7,043

This lavish mansion boasts membership in Harbour Isles, a ritzy, secluded community. In fact, ever single home has a dock, according to the listing. The 7,000-square-foot home has over 90 feet of waterfront for itself. 

See the listing for more details

Pictured here is the home's columned patio that offers soul-soothing river views. 

See the listing for more details

Location: Punta Gorda, Fla. 
Median Price Increase: 19.35 percent

Home Price: $1.15 million
Beds/Baths: 3/2
Sq. Ft.: 3,950

Overlooking a stretch of creek, this luxury property spans four verdant acres. Of all the interior highlights, the great room really caught our eye, thanks to some creative copy on the part of the property's listing description. Inside the cavernous room, the "Built in Wood/Gas Fireplace is perfect for snuggling on [the] occasional cool Florida evening," the description says.  

See the listing for more details

The home has a gourmet kitchen with cherry cabinets, marble countertops, dual ovens and its very own "butcher block." There's also a glass-enclosed pool that overlooks the property's creek. 

See the listing for more details

Location: Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz. 
Median Price Increase: 20.62 percent

Home Price: $4 million
Beds/Baths: 6/8
Sq. Ft.: 9,309

Located in the city that posted the second-highest year-over-year increase in home prices for February, according to Realtor.com, this $4 million mansion features marble and oak floors, beveled glass windows and custom cabinetry. Oh, and also close to 10,000 square feet of space. 

See the listing for more details

The home has a guest house and expansive courtyard connected to the gourmet kitchen. Amenities run the gamut: The home has a game room, wine cellar, music room and potting room, among other perks.  

See the listing for more details

Location: Miami
Median Price Increase: 26.19 percent

Home Price: $7.7 million
Beds/Baths: 6/7
Sq. Ft.: 6,500

This sprawling apartment nestles into one of Miami's soaring residential skyscrapers. Price per square foot for the contemporary is a whopping $1,185. 

See the listing for more details

The sleek, lavish interior opens up to a balcony perched over Miami's waterfront. Occupants can suck in the jaw-dropping views while lounging in an outdoor hottub. 

See the listing for more details

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