Happy Young People Dancing And Singing At Backyard Party.

A well-planned outdoor space will help buyers envision using the space to entertain guests and enjoy good weather. (Getty Images)

Outdoor spaces are a major selling point that can often be overlooked when sellers are preparing their home for the market. From a luxurious, resort-style cabana to a romantic seating area shaded by a massive oak tree, outdoor space is one of the most important aspects of a home.

Beautifully styled patios, gardens and dining areas have the ability to make a buyer fall instantly in love. Here are a few tips that will make your outdoor spaces shine for potential buyers and give your listing photos the extra emotional pull they need.

[See: 12 Home Improvement Shortcuts That Are a Bad Idea.]

Spruce it up. At the very least, your outdoor spaces should be clean, tidy and well-maintained. The first impression is the most important, and a bad first impression is hard to overcome.

Pay attention to how your home looks from the street or on a potential buyer’s first approach. Does the property look inviting? Make sure the driveway, parking area and any walkways are clean and clear for easy accessibility.

Lawns should be kept cut, and dead or dying patches should be restored. The landscaping and gardens should be thoughtful and well-maintained. Identify areas that are in need of repair or refreshing. Maybe the fence around the vegetable garden needs a fresh coat of paint. Maybe the existing outdoor furniture is faded and needs to be reupholstered, or the wilting potted plants need to be removed and replaced with fresh vibrant ones.

Damage or poor maintenance can be a red flag to buyers and may indicate that the property has not been well cared for in other areas, either. It’s important to put your best foot forward from the very beginning and give the buyer a clean slate to begin imagining herself in your home.

[Read: 9 Quick Ways to Boost Your Home's Curb Appeal.]

Set the Scene. Homebuyers are looking at spaces both inside and out, and considering how they will use them in their daily lives. Setting the scene to capture a buyer’s imagination and his or her attention is critical.

You want your home to be memorable and to stand out against the competition. Professional staging companies are one resource available to assist in designing a scene that will showcase your outdoor areas in the best light possible.

However, there are also some things you can consider on your own to create a space that will make the next buyer want to curl up next to the fire pit, break out a bottle of Pinot and invite over a few of their closest friends.

Consider how a space is meant to be used and showcase that use. Is the front porch the perfect spot to relax with a book? You can evoke that idea by creating an intimate seating area. If the patio next to the pool is meant for lounging in the sun, it should show that – possibly with a row of cushioned lounge chairs with nicely folded beach towels and brightly colored umbrellas. Showing is always more powerful than telling.

Once you have an idea of how each space should function, you’ll want to accessorize each area to bring it to life. Colorful pillows, potted plants, rugs, cozy throws and thoughtful centerpieces can instantly bring life and warmth to an outdoor space. Use color to your advantage and keep in mind the style and aesthetic of your home. Even just a pop of color here and there can create visual interest in your listing photos and in person.

Light the Scene. Outdoor lighting and landscape lighting is particularly important and often overlooked. Many buyers insist on seeing a property at night as well as during the day and if you are planning to take twilight photos, exterior lighting is even more critical.

Make sure all of your current landscape lighting is working and replace burnt out bulbs, including the pool light. Then determine if any areas are lacking. Walking paths and stairs should be well-lit as well as your outdoor entertaining areas.

Think soft and romantic rather than motion-sensing spotlights. Candles, fireplaces, lanterns, outdoor lamps, stylish fixtures and overhead lighting from fixture or string lights are perfect options to light your scene.

[See: Current Design Trends That Will Date Your Home.]

Create the Privacy. Privacy is an important factor for almost all homebuyers. Anything that can be done to make your outdoor spaces feel more intimate and private will resonate with prospective buyers.

A row of large potted plants or lattice with climbing vines may help shield your patio from your neighbors, or a row of hedges might help insulate your yard from a busy street. Plantings, curtains, privacy screens and fencing can all be used where appropriate to increase the privacy of your home’s outdoor spaces.

Outdoor spaces are a critical selling point and styling them appropriately for your listing photos, as well as for prospective buyers, can make all the difference. Don’t neglect your gardens, outdoor barbeque areas, patios or decks. Clean and make repairs, set the scene, light the scene, accessorize and create the privacy to make your outdoor areas shine.

Tags: real estate, housing market, housing, home prices, existing home sales, home improvements


Sally Forster Jones is recognized as one of the top real estate brokers in Southern California. Forster Jones is an expert in the luxury real estate market in Los Angeles and internationally. Her extensive knowledge ranges from residential sales, luxury and architecturally significant properties to new developments and commercial transactions.

She is currently Executive Director of Luxury Estates with Compass in Beverly Hills, California. Her team, SFJ Group, is comprised of agents and a full-service staff ranging across experienced marketing, listing, transaction, and operation experts.