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:
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.
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.
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
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.
Location: Naples, Fla.
Median Price Increase: 15.67 percent
Home Price: $11.95 million
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.
Location: Washington, D.C.
Median Price Increase: 18.45 percent
Home Price: $7.495 million
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.
Location: West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, Fla.
Median Price Increase: 18.48 percent
Home Price: $3.4 million
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.
Location: Punta Gorda, Fla.
Median Price Increase: 19.35 percent
Home Price: $1.15 million
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.
Location: Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz.
Median Price Increase: 20.62 percent
Home Price: $4 million
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.