What Do Your Tenants Want Outside The House?
Curb appeal is one thing, but what about yard appeal, backyard appeal, and the rest of the appeals?
Real estate agents put a lot of value on curb appeal when selling houses, and to a degree, property managers tend to as well — it’s important that the first impression that a house makes on a prospective tenant is a good one. But that doesn’t mean that your attention to the outside should stop at “looks good as you drive up.” Prospects do pay attention to the function, as well as the form, of their yard, porch, patio, and so on.
Here’s what people are looking for, according to the Residential Architecture Design Trends Survey for 2015, given by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA):
Easy and Earth-Friendly
“Consumers care about designed landscapes that are attractive, easy to take care of and eco-friendly,” says Nancy Somerville, CEO of ASLA. “The survey shows that homeowners increasingly see opportunities to improve the environment right in their own backyard.” 85% of those surveyed said they valued native plants, and 83% said they valued drought-tolerant plants — both ways of saying “low-maintenance,” in the language of the tenants. 78% explicitly said “low-maintenance landscaping” was a priority.
Making Use of the Yard
Another thing that tenants largely agreed on: having a yard that was practical was a great idea. 79% of respondents said a vegetable and/or herb garden was a huge plus. 78% said a fireplace or fire pit was something they would appreciate, and another 63% each named a grill, a dining area, and outdoor furniture as desirables.
Things That Aren’t As Important
On the other side of this fascinating survey, there’s a decent list of things that are fairly commonly advertised, and sometimes even added deliberately by a renovating investor or property manager, that actually aren’t as desirable as we seem to believe:
- Play structures were only desirable by 25% of respondents
- Sheds were deemed worthwhile by a mere 29%
- Water features like ponds and streams had a positive response of only 33%
- Porches were mildly more popular with 38% of the votes
- An outdoor hot tub only got a 40% response
- A fenced yard only stimulated interest in 42% of folks
- Even having a deck was something less than half of people — 45% — were turned on by.
In short, if you’re preparing a property to be rented, and you’ve gotten the inside taken care of, consider taking a long, hard look at the outside. Compared to many renovations, putting in a couple of garden boxes or a fire pit is a pretty minor investment — and it could be the boost you need to nail one of those great tenants that passes your screening process with flying colors.