Many people spent 2020 and 2021 scrambling to find the contractors and workers to complete home improvement projects. They were intent on enjoying comfort at home while much of the social world shut down. A great deal of these projects involved creating a backyard oasis for all to enjoy. So just how well will these backyard renovations pay off in 2021 and beyond?


Top real estate agents have discovered that, even as restrictions are relaxed and more people have been vaccinated against COVID 19, many buyers are still putting outdoor living areas as one of their top three priorities in a home. As a result, many homes with excellent outdoor features are selling well and recouping more of the costs for installation. That being said, few, if any, outdoor features recoup the full value of the install.  Therefore, it’s almost always better to install something you enjoy and will use frequently, than to attempt to upgrade in order to sell your home at a good price.


Good: Inground Hot Tubs


Installing an inground hot tub this past year created a little backyard luxury during a time when many people were experiencing added stress.  An average hot tub would yield a 25% ROI in the past, and currently, many homes with in-ground hot tubs are seeing a 42% ROI, much higher than before. That being said, you can see how the investment of many thousands of dollars, has to also be for something that you’ll use yourself to make it worthwhile.


Better: Freestanding Hot Tubs


Freestanding hot tubs are popular this year and are a lower-expense way to get the relaxation of a spa on the back porch. Being considered personal property because they are not attached to the home, freestanding hot tubs are technically not part of the value of the home. For this reason, whether the hot tub will remain with the home is going to be negotiable. If the tub is the bargaining chip that convinces your potential buyers to place a competitive offer, you are effectively getting a return on investment. Additionally, you have the option of finding a separate buyer if the new owners don’t want a freestanding hot tub.


Best: Outdoor Kitchens and Decks


A feature that grew in popularity in 2020, with the need to entertain outdoors to maintain some safety, was an outdoor kitchen. So many appliances can withstand basic exposure to the elements, and outdoor kitchens often feature countertops, bar space, storage, and of course an excellent grill. These spaces are staying popular and yielding excellent ROIs in the neighborhood of 71% at sale. Of course, the expense and trouble of installation should be factored in, but compared to many other features, outdoor kitchens hold their value. 

Similarly, decks have become very appealing, with these outdoor spaces adding on average $7K in value to a home versus $4.5K pre-COVID. Particularly if you choose to build a modestly-priced deck after lumber prices continue to stabilize, you are likely to see very reasonable returns on your deck costs.


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