Plot details: the gardens that buyers want Outdoor space is moving to the top of wish lists — so will your backyard meet the exacting requirements of house-hunters?
By Rachel Johnston of Stacks Property Finders
A breathtaking view helps Rachel Johnston of the property search agency Stacks explains that the view of the garden from the house is the most important factor for her clients. “What wins them over is the setting,” she says. However, an idyllic vista can come with pitfalls. Johnston warns that “if you can see it, the wind can travel up through it”. In other words, an exposed position means that venturing outdoors in winter might be chilly.
Size matters “People shopping for a property in the country say they want five acres. But actually, even two acres of garden take a lot of maintenance. Do you want to spend your weekends mowing the lawn?” Johnston asks. She contends that “a six-bedroom rural house should have an acre of garden, a five-bedroom house should have three quarters of an acre, and a four-bedroom house half an acre”. “It’s important not to get ‘garden’ confused with ‘land’,” she adds. “Any land should be in addition to garden space.”
In towns, different rules apply — especially if buyers are downsizing. “People downsizing think that they want a slightly less large version of the garden of their family home. Actually, what they may really want is a small, perfectly formed low-maintenance terrace that’s not overlooked.”
Don’t have a garden? Well-kept communal land will help If you live in a flat, communal gardens often dramatically improve your price premium. “The advantage is your own perfectly small patch, and wonderful views of green space maintained by somebody else,” says Johnston.
New-build gardens are often too small In the modern builder’s race to occupy ever-diminishing plots of land, gardens are often the first thing to be sacrificed. Many new developers provide gardens that are “smaller than the footprint of its house”, Johnston says. “It’s incredible that a developer who goes to enormous lengths to provide every high-spec finish in a property will think it’s all right to squeeze it into a tiny, overlooked plot. Gardens in new developments started to feel uncomfortably small in the late 1990s and have become increasingly inadequate.”
Gardens that are overlooked — or those that you need to go through a house to access — can put buyers off.