Want to up your curb appeal? Invest in landscape lighting

Spring is here, and for homeowners with a yard, that means spending more time outside. The National Association of Realtors suggests, whether you’re selling your home or not, that it’s a good time to invest in improving a home’s curb appeal.

But what is curb appeal?

“In all honesty, we don’t define it. I think that it is to a buyer’s interpretation. Did you feel like you want to step inside of a home when you drive up to it,” said Jessica Lautz, NAR chief economist and vice president of research.

For those homeowners planning to sell this spring, NAR’s survey of its Realtor members found 92% suggest sellers improve their curb appeal prior to listing. Topping the list are landscaping maintenance and tree care. But one of the easiest ways to improve curb appeal doesn’t cost much.

“The biggest cost recovery is actually the lowest dollar value project. Just looking at standard lawn care service has the highest return,” Lautz said.

NAR’s Remodeling Impact Report: Outdoor Features ranks the value of project costs, estimated cost recovery if selling, and the consumer experience.

That includes what it calls a “Joy Score,” ranking outdoor projects on homeowner satisfaction when the project is complete. They range from extremely expensive to not all that expensive at all.

“The highest Joy Score that we see is an in-ground pool, landscape lighting and a new patio. And I have to say when you drive through your neighborhood and you see homeowners who have invested in that landscape lighting, you can really tell the difference,” Lautz said.

Its survey found 92% of landscape professionals have seen an increase in demand for contracting outdoor features during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 79% cited outdoor project scopes increased in size from before the pandemic.

Among outdoor improvements listed in its report for best return and owner happiness and what those projects cost, it includes an in-ground pool ($90,000), outdoor kitchen ($15,000), a fire feature ($9,000) and lawn irrigation system ($6,000).

The National Association of Realtors’ full report, including methodology, is online.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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