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Most Realtors (92%) suggest that sellers improve the curb appeal of their home before listing it for sale. Also, the most significant shares of Realtors recommended owners complete landscaping-related features before putting a home on the market. Those were among the top projects for which landscape professionals saw increased demand over the last year. These and other findings come from a report released by the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Landscape Professionals.


The 2023 Remodeling Impact Report: Outdoor Features examines why homeowners complete outdoor remodeling projects, the value of undertaking these enhancements and homeowners’ increased happiness after completing an upgrade. Specifically, the report covers the following:


  • Project Cost: The typical cost of 11 outdoor residential projects is estimated by National Association of Landscape Professionals members.


  • Realtors’ Estimated Cost Recovery and Recommendation: Realtors’ estimated cost recovery — defined as the amount of money homeowners can recover on a project upon selling a home — and the share of Realtors that recommend these outdoor upgrades before listing a home.


  • Consumer Experience: The experience consumers had upon completing the 11 projects, including a Joy Score.


“The COVID-19 pandemic changed how Americans use their homes for daily living, relaxation, and entertainment,” said Dr. Jessica Lautz, NAR deputy chief economist and vice president of research. “Homeowners have embraced their outdoor spaces — transforming them into oases with pools, patios, plants and greenery. The homeowner embraces these outdoor features and can also attract buyers if the owner wants to sell.”


The 11 outdoor features in the report include: fire feature ($9,000), in-ground pool addition ($90,000), irrigation system installation ($6,000), landscape lighting ($6,800), landscape maintenance ($4,800), new patio ($10,500), new wood deck ($16,900), outdoor kitchen ($15,000), overall landscape upgrade ($9,000), tree care ($2,875) and standard lawn care service ($415).


Ranked on a scale of 1-10, the report found that consumers rated all 11 outdoor projects highly, with Joy Scores at 9 or above. Among the features, the highest Joy Scores were for an in-ground pool addition (10), landscape lighting (10), and a new patio (9.9). Slightly lower Joy Scores were provided for an outdoor kitchen (9), tree care (9.3), standard lawn care service (9.4), and an irrigation system installation (9.4).


High Joy Scores did not necessarily correspond with Realtors’ estimates for high-cost recovery. Interestingly, the least expensive project — standard lawn care service — had the highest cost recovery (217%), followed by landscape maintenance (104%), an overall landscape upgrade (100%), and an outdoor kitchen (100%). In comparison, the lowest cost recovery was for an in-ground pool (56%) — which had the highest Joy Score — followed by a fire feature (56%) and landscape lighting (59%).


In line with their majority recommendation to improve curb appeal, the largest shares of Realtors that recommended completing an outdoor project prior to selling a home were for landscaping-related projects, including landscape maintenance (74%), standard lawn care service (53%) and tree care (44%). The shares of Realtor recommendations were the lowest for an in-ground pool addition (1%), outdoor kitchen (1%) and an irrigation system installation (2%).


The outdoor projects for which landscape professionals saw the most increased demand included an overall landscape upgrade (61%), landscape maintenance (58%) and a new patio (55%). Conversely, they saw the least increased demand for a new wood deck (15%), an in-ground pool addition (25%) and tree care (29%).


“It’s no surprise that nearly all Realtors and most homeowners place a high value on the curb appeal of a well-maintained yard,” said Britt Wood, NALP CEO. “Healthy outdoor living and green spaces help the environment, increase home values, make communities more desirable, and improve people’s mental and physical health.”


COVID-19 Pandemic Outdoor Remodeling


For the first time, the report looked at outdoor remodeling demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among landscape professionals, most (92%) found increased demand for contracting outdoor features during the pandemic. Further, 79% cited that outdoor project scopes increased in size from before the pandemic.


Realtors cited the highest increase in pandemic demand for an in-ground pool addition, landscape maintenance and a new patio (all 17%). On the contrary, they saw the smallest amount of increased pandemic demand for an irrigation system installation (2%), a fire feature (8%) and landscape lighting (8%).


Click here to review the full report from NAR.