The conventional wisdom is cool kitchens and sexy bathrooms are what sets a house apart.
In my experience, those are just table stakes. What people will really pay for is amazing backyards.
Here's just one real experience from my real estate practice. Two years ago I found a home for a three-generational family. The older house was nothing special but the backyard--on an acre-- had a gorgeous pool, a basketball court, a sunken fire pit, an organic vegetable garden, an outdoor kitchen and an outdoor shower. Plus it had a covered patio with dinner seating for 20 with both misters and heaters on stands. All it was missing was a zip line. This backyard rivaled the pool area of many of the Strip's casinos.
There was a dispute about the home's square footage because the seller had not declared the upscale-appointed attic on her property taxes. That meant five days before closing my buyer had to come up with an additional $25,000 cash to purchase the home.
Many buyers would have walked. But this was a one-of-a-kind backyard. They borrowed the money from a parent. Two years later they are glad they spent the additional money.
Today Las Vegas homeowners view their backyards as a logical extension of their indoor living space. And they are willing to pay over appraised value for an exciting backyard.
My two cents: If you want to invest in upgrading your home, don't ignore the backyard.
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"Hey Jake, working with you has been fantastic. You really helped make the stressful burden of buying a house a breeze! My wife and I were always impressed by the speed at which you could obtain information to any of our questions. Even helping us find someone trustworthy to get estimates for pool equipment. We can't thank you enough for helping us find the house with the layout we wanted in the area we wanted and making the purchase process so easy!
Jason and Rachelle Johnson"