GTA property values have been steadily on the rise for the past decade, sometimes making dramatic year-over-year price leaps that approach the double digits.
Does that mean that, if you own a home in Toronto, you can hammer a hand-scribbled For Sale sign into your weed choked lawn and still sell it?
The demand for homes is high, and supply is short. However, without appealing to buyers, you certainly will not get the asking price that you want for it, nor achieve the full value you deserve.
Since arguably there has been no such thing as an ‘affordable’ home in the Toronto area for a couple of years now, buyers fully realize they are buying high, and expect to be wowed by your property if you are asking top dollar.
Hardscaping forms an integral part of your curb appeal…and it’s the outside of your home that buyers see first.
How Hardscaping Can Add Value to Your Home
Ontario can be a tough place to sell a home from a simple weather standpoint. The grey winters and soggy springs don’t do much for a home’s exterior, and once the snow begins to melt, revealing all the undesirable outdoor elements – the brown lawn, the cracked steps, the peeling driveway – your property can begin to look rundown even if it’s really not that bad.
A sloppy looking exterior makes an immediate impression on the minds of potential buyers. What will they find inside, they wonder…and is it really worth the asking price? Questions like these from buyers can leave your house sitting on the market longer than the current lightning-fast average, a condition which can eventually stigmatize your home and drive the selling price down even further.
In order for a buyer to picture themselves living in your home, it simply has to look appealing. The good news is that, unlike other renovations you might do inside, landscaping and hardscaping have a recovery value of 100 to 200 percent – meaning the costs you put in will be recovered, if not doubled.
“Studies in Canada and the U.S. show that landscaping can add anywhere from 4% – 15% to the value of your home,” says Denis Flanagan, Director of Public Relations for Landscape Ontario in a report for Re/Max. “Improving your home’s curb appeal also increases the likelihood that potential buyers will come take a look at your property. People judge a home from the curb. Professional landscaping helps create a good first impression of your property, and it may even give you a (h)edge over the Joneses’.”
The Hardscape Elements That Boost a Home’s Value
Hardscaping adds permanent elements to your property, so these elements should be chosen with care before any landscaping (trees, shrubs, grass, flowers) are added in a complementary fashion.
Hardscape elements include your residential driveway, walkways and paths, retaining walls, deck or patio, and fencing. New hardscaping immediately tells buyers that you care about your home and that it is well maintained. It’s a visual cue that as a homeowner, you take care of the details, and there aren’t going to be any nasty surprises later on.
While many gardeners like to get creative with the mulch, and there is nothing wrong with that, mulch won’t hide a cracked asphalt driveway or a walkway that’s missing bricks or a patio whose stones have shifted over 20 years of freeze/thaw cycles.
Here’s what you can do to make sure your hardscaping is as attractive as possible to potential buyers:
- Replace any broken steps on your concrete stairs
- Replace cracked walkways with natural stone or practical interlocking pavers in an eye-catching pattern
- Re-surface or replace a patched and hole-y asphalt driveway
- Consider paving over high-traffic areas of churned mud where nothing will grow
- Add a stone retaining wall to contain landscape elements and provide a gorgeous rustic backdrop for climbing vines and shrubs
- Add tasteful, adequate outdoor lighting that directs guests around your property and to your front door
Hardscaping can extend your living space, essentially making the outdoors just another room in your house. Think of it that way, and buyers will be delighted in the investment you have made…and reflect that in their offering price for your home.