Home prices in the U.S. surged within the last year, the result of pandemic-related relocations, low mortgage rates, and a lack of new and existing housing inventory. According to Zillow, the median home value in the U.S. is $303,288 as of August 2021, a 17.7% increase from 2020. However, according to a new Trees.com survey of 1,250 licensed U.S. real estate agents, there’s one way to decrease a home’s value—neglect your home’s landscaping and hardscaping.
- 78% of agents say poor landscaping and hardscaping negatively affects property values
- 59% of agents say trees are the landscaping element that adds the most value to a home
- 20% of agents say that adding one healthy tree can increase property value by 30% or more,
There’s no question that landscaping elements like trees, grass, and flowers add a lot of visual appeal to a home, but just how much does their absence affect what a home is worth? According to 43% of real estate agents, poor landscaping has a “very” negative impact on a home’s value. Another 35% say it will “somewhat” impact how much a home is worth.
Real estate agents have differing opinions on exactly how much a home’s value decreases with poor landscaping. 24%t say a home’s value decreases by 10%, while 22% estimate the value decreases by 20%. 18% predict that a home’s value drops by 30% or more if the property lacks an appealing landscape.
Much of it has to do with perception, according to real estate broker Kimo Quance, owner of the Kimo Quance Group in Santee, CA.“Landscaping provides potential buyers with a first impression of your home,” she says. “When they observe a neglected lawn, or a home without any additional curb appeal, potential buyers immediately get the idea that the home was not well-maintained. They set a value of the home in their mind based on that, and it’s usually not a good price. On the other hand, a neat, clean lawn puts the buyer’s mind at ease.”
In today’s hot real estate market, even a 10% price decrease means a seller could be leaving tens of thousands of dollars on the table if they don’t bring their lawns up to snuff before putting their home on the market. Hardscaping, which refers to all the non-living aspects of an outdoor design, such as structural or decorative elements, is also important. 40% of agents say poor hardscaping has a very negative impact on a home’s value, while 38% say it has a somewhat negative impact.
According to Chicago-based real estate investor and developer Bill Samuel, a well-designed outdoor space is even more important now due to how much time families are spending at home.
“Today’s homebuyer expects the home they purchase to be move-in ready and prefers not to have to do any work,” he says. “Exterior hardscape upgrades that allow for outdoor entertaining are becoming even more desirable as most homeowners prefer to entertain at home and outdoors during the pandemic.”
The landscaping elements that add the most value to a home include grass (64%), trees (59%), and flowers (52%). As far as hardscaping goes, real estate agents recommend adding or improving decks (58%), driveways (54%), and an outdoor kitchen (47%) to add the most value.
91% of agents say adding even one healthy tree to your landscape will increase a property’s value. 20% of agents say that the presence of one healthy tree in the front yard of a property increases the home’s value by 30% or more. 19% of agents estimate an increase in value of 20%; and 19% say it raises the value by 10%.
“A tree is one of the most natural and interesting ways to add color, texture and contrast to any home’s yard,” says David North, a real estate broker in Redmond, WA. “The natural beauty of a tree can be especially powerful when it distinguishes one property from others, whether by different shape, color, or size.” Location is key, North says, encouraging homeowners to plant trees where they will provide needed shade, privacy, and noise protection.
There are also the practical benefits of having trees on a property. “Big, healthy trees help improve the home environment and make it more sustainable,” Quance says. “Trees contribute to a functioning home ecosystem by helping with stormwater management, pollution filtering, and soil fertilization. During warmer months, trees are a natural cooling system, providing shade. Then, in colder months, trees that lose their leaves let sunlight filter through to warm the home.”
Those who are selling their homes shouldn’t forget about having greenery inside, either. 54% of real estate agents say it’s very important to have indoor plants when showing a home for sale; another 28% say it is somewhat important.
Home prices vary widely by location, and the impact of poor landscaping does as well. Real estate agents in the Midwest are most likely to say that poor landscaping will have a very negative impact on home value (51%). By comparison, 44% of real estate agents in the Northeast say poor landscaping has a very negative impact on what a home is worth.
Having indoor plants during a home showing is most important in the South (67%) and the West (65%), whereas 57% of real estate agents in both the Midwest and the Northeast think this is very important.
While the majority of real estate agents in the Northeast say having a healthy tree in the front yard will increase property values, 10% say that it won’t. Comparatively, only 6% of real estate agents in the West and Midwest, and 5% of real estate agents in the South think having a healthy tree won’t increase a home’s value at all.
Trees.com was founded in 1997. With horticulture experts, arborists, and tried-and-true gardeners, they offer a wealth of knowledge and actionable guidance. All data found within this report derives from a survey commissioned by Trees.com and conducted online by survey platform Pollfish. They are reprinted with permission. For full survey data email Julia Morrissey at [email protected].