Pools and hot tubs are nice, but who doesn’t love a tricked-out backyard? During the COVID-19 pandemic, people spent more time at home than ever before and homeowners have upgraded their outdoor space in ways big and small… and those improvements have paid off in dividends. We asked some of the top agents from Nassau County and western Suffolk County about the types of new features they are seeing people splurge on. What backyard element offers the best value when it comes to investing in your property?
Rachel King, SERHANT.
“The sky is the limit when it comes to outdoor design. I’ve seen everything from ice skating rinks, vineyards, outdoor gyms, and even exotic plant and animal habitats in owners’ backyards. But your backyard is an extension of your home and valued by the amount of usable and desirable square footage; if you want to add real lasting value to your property, consider adding gas and electrical lines for outdoor kitchens, heaters, firepits, lighting, and sound systems. Factoring in the elements and offering protection from inclement weather also adds significant value and provides maximum enjoyment. Even with a small or imperfect backyard shape, a landscape architect can transform your space so you can enjoy beautiful outdoor living and entertaining every day of the year.”
Fran Mazer, Compass
“After being holed up in apartment living during the pandemic, so many people are fleeing the city life. Families are looking for more space, not only indoor space but outdoor space as well. People have taken their outdoor spaces to the next level. It is no longer a patio and a pool. Outdoor spaces have become an extension of your home. People think of it as another family room complete with sofas, TVs, outdoor heaters, and firepits/ fireplaces decorated with outdoor rugs, outdoor lighting, throws and pillows. The freestanding barbeque has migrated to an outdoor full-service kitchen, in some cases including an outdoor pizza oven. The inground pool acts as a light show with various color schemes to fit your mood. The typical tennis court morphed into a sports court, work-out arena, hockey rink or a paved surface for first-time bike riders. Let’s not forget the gardens, whether it be for meditation, growing vegetables or just beautiful English gardens. The beautiful properties of the North Shore lend themselves to allowing your imagination to run wild!”
Tara Fox, Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty
“Updating the backyard can net you the highest return on your investment but that could mean going in dozens of different directions, dropping five figures — or more — to create an epic outdoor lifestyle space. With additions like patios and decks, fire pits and outdoor kitchens, and even movie screens, you can improve the chances of selling your home for more and (in some cases) quicker. Which ones are worth the time, energy and funds, especially if you’re thinking about selling in the next few years? My picks: 1) The roaring popularity of firepits shows no signs of cooling off. A firepit can be alluring during all four seasons. 2) You know how an updated kitchen sells a home? So does a sleek outdoor one. It’s a surprise that has people instantly envisioning themselves dining al fresco. Make sure to build ample counter space to make cooking easier and design your outdoor kitchen around your grill. Specialty appliances like pizza ovens, Argentinian grills, wine refrigerators, side burners and dishwashers add sophistication. 3) Outdoor lighting is an important selling point for both security and aesthetics. The right lighting will impress a potential buyer who looks forward to evenings outdoors. 4) If the space allows, invest in a pergola and your backyard will feel more like a resort. 5) Invest in an outdoor movie projector — not only does it make for a fun family activity but it has the added bonus of watching movies under the stars.”
Maggie Keats, Douglas Elliman
“If there is one thing the pandemic has left us with, it’s a desire to socialize, mingle and be together. For that reason, without question, a great “summer kitchen” (outdoor barbecue grill, cooktop, refrigerator, sink, even a wine refrigerator) is the best “pandemic investment.” It is not only the most bang for your buck but the most soul-satisfying. If you have a little more to invest, an outdoor dining room, or a great screened-in porch (or an outdoor dining room with radiant-heated floors or optional heaters and electric retractable screens) gets everyone outside, is nurturing and social, and its use extends across several seasons, not just the summer months. Not everyone swims or plays tennis, but everyone eats! What could be better?”
We asked Hamptons agents the same question. See what they had to say.
This article appeared in the June issue of Behind The Hedges inside the Long Island Press. Read the full digital version here.