7 Landscaping Projects for Fix & Flips
Fixing and flipping homes can be a lucrative investment opportunity: Many individuals interested in real estate investments have found a profitable niche in fix and flips, which refers to the process of purchasing a run-down or out of date home, fixing it up to increase market value, and immediately selling for a profit.
The fixing part of a fix and flip is where the complexity of this process arises; making the right repairs and upgrades to ensure a satisfactory product is more challenging than it sounds. Understanding what to upgrade in order to best attract buyer attention as well as what constitutes a competitive cost for the chosen upgrades are key elements in a successful project.
However, discussion on the elements of successful fix and flip not always range outside of the home, which can be a costly mistake. Many landscaping projects are less expensive and easier to manage independently than something like a kitchen renovation. As a home’s exterior is the best possible chance to make a first impression, taking care with landscaping can elevate any fix and flip project. These are the top seven landscaping opportunities to enhance your next home flip.
A garden with flowers and shrubbery can be a great way to turn a bland yard into a beautiful one. Gardens can be a simple project: most yards are equipped to begin a garden immediately, and many homes already have a garden space established in front of a home, even if it is underutilized.
For most homes, the most appropriate place for a garden is surrounding the front door and perhaps along one side of the property. Some yards, particularly in urban areas, may not be able to support a large garden, but even a small variety of plants can add a much-desired pop of color.
When planning a garden for a fix and flip, low maintenance plants are a must. As there are generally more important tasks in restoring investment properties than tending to the garden, plants that require minimal watering or pruning are a good fit. Marigolds, daylilies, goldenrod, cosmos, coreopsis, spider flowers, and yarrow are resilient, making these kinds of plants a good choice when flipping properties. Be sure to focus on local species as well; trying to bring in flowers that are not native to the area can make keeping them alive an uphill battle.
If flowers aren’t a good fit for your property, shrubbery can be a good alternative. Easy to groom and low maintenance in the immediate weeks after planting, adding any kind of greenery can improve any yard.
While some people are blessed with wonderful neighbors, this isn’t always the case. If properties in your area are close together and if there are no fences currently in place, adding a barrier between yards can increase the likelihood of a purchase. For families that value privacy, a home that comes prepared with a little distance from surrounding houses is a big benefit.
Barriers between yards can come in several forms, with hedges, small trees, and fences as the most popular options. Wooden slat or picket fences are arguably the best choices for those who want fencing, creating a stylish yet functional way to separate yards. Barriers can be put into place along the sides of a yard as well as the back of the property, but some investment property owners may choose just one or two of these options – such as focusing on the sides of the property without attending to the back property line – due to characteristics of the neighborhood.
Before making a choice, consider evaluating nearby properties within the neighborhood to get a sense of local preferences. For example, large older homes may be better complimented by a line of trees than a fence, while more modern builds may be better suited to traditional fencing. Trees can also be a good option when a fence is already in place in a neighbor’s yard.
Before digging in, review property lines in detail. Building on a neighbor’s property can be a large and costly issue, compromising the return on your investment.
In some areas of the country, particularly those with minimal or insufficient rainfall to sustain traditional landscaping, other alternatives may be required to create a beautiful yard. The Southwestern United States, for example, is very dry throughout the year, and getting grass to grow or plants to stay alive is very different than in the Northeast, for example.
If you are fixing and flipping properties in dry areas of the country, an irrigation system can be a good way to draw attention to a property. Many homeowners would like to have an irrigation system, but due to the expense in installation, are unlikely to do so themselves. However, a property that is already complete with a new, robust sprinkler system can be an alluring prospect that can raise market value and increase buyer interest.
Irrigation systems come in many shapes and sizes depending on the property in question, so it’s critical that investment property owners conduct the proper due diligence. Cutting corners is never suggested, and using the wrong system can result in a reduction in ROI and wasted money that could have been allocated elsewhere. This is particularly true in areas in which sprinkler systems for residential homes are not common. Pay attention to trends in the area as well; even if a sprinkler system seems like a good fit for a property, if area buyers don’t see this as a priority, installation may not impact purchase price in a material way.
Lush, green grass is always a draw for a home as it indicates healthy soil and low maintenance beauty for homeowners. As such, investing time in growing grass can be a good way to provide a strong first impression. In doing so, focus on ensuring yards are weed-free and that edging along sidewalks, patios, and the driveway is neat and precise.
However, as mentioned, grass isn’t an easy venture in all areas of the country for those prone to dry weather, in desert areas, and in states with frequent droughts, keeping grass up to par can be easier said than done, and attempting to grow a full yard can take energy away from more valuable projects. In these cases, artificial lawns can be an excellent alternative.
Some investment property owners may have a negative perception of fake grass, but modern artificial grass is very realistic and can be hard to differentiate from popular species of real grass. Installation can be pricey, ranging from $5 to $20 per square foot, but the cost savings in the long run for buyers can be worth it, particularly among those who have struggled with using real grass in inopportune climates in the past. Remember to check your local water company to check for available discounts.
Most properties have paved areas somewhere throughout the yard, like driveways, patios, and sidewalks. While cracks and crevices are common over time, this can be an unprofessional look.
If concrete, patio pavers, or asphalt driveways on your investment property appear worn out or improperly cared for, a full replacement is often a good option. Large repaired cracks in an asphalt driveway, for instance, can come off as sloppy, while cracked sidewalks can be potential hazards.
Depending on the property, stone or brick walkways can be more attractive and appealing than standard concrete panels. If the path to the front door is worn out, cracked, broken, or otherwise in need of specific repairs, consider changing to a more appealing alternative. A short walkway with pavers can be a DIY project with pavers, offering a beautiful alternative that can usher buyers into a home.
Gravel driveways are common in some areas, but these tend to be among the least exciting options for homeowners. If you have purchased an investment property with a gravel driveway, consider paving over it in order to create a more appealing appearance. Keeping gravel can be acceptable, particularly in the case of a large driveway in which a replacement would be prohibitively expensive, but be sure to add a new layer of gravel before going on the market.
Add a Patio
Outdoor space can be a luxury for many homeowners, providing a place to dine outside in the summer or to simply enjoy the sunshine with a good book. If the house you are fixing and flipping does not have a functional outdoor space, consider adding one, like a patio or deck in the back of the home. While these spaces can theoretically be added in the front yard, homeowners may be put off by the prospect of dining or relaxing near the street.
Patios can come in many shapes and sizes, depending on the yard in question. A large backyard can accommodate a spacious patio with room for chairs, tables, and a grill, while a smaller yard may be more limiting. Regardless, usable space outside can significantly increase the market price of a property, so if expanding outdoors is in the budget, it is advised to do so.
If there is already a patio in place, adding little extras to increase the beauty and flexibility can be an advantage. For example, adding a pergola above a patio or a portion of the patio can provide extra space to grow plants or create ambiance, while adding a screened in area in climates that are prone to bugs in the summer can increase buyer comfort.
There are plenty of ways to touch up even a beautifully-landscaped yard with little extras that take a good property to a great one. Adding little details, like light fixtures in the front yard or surrounding the front door, clear and visible house numbers, or even a classic mailbox that suits the home’s style can be a wonderful way to pull everything together. If you’re not sure about the most important options, take a look at other houses of a similar style in the neighborhood, particularly those that just sold in your target price range. These things aren’t essential by any means but for buyers who favor little details, a few extra touches can increase interest dramatically.
There’s no way to guarantee great returns on a fix and flip, but a little effort throughout the property can yield amazing results. Landscaping is often seen as less of a priority than interior changes, but nothing makes a good first impression like a beautiful yard. Pay attention to things like grass, driveways and sidewalks, flower beds, and privacy barriers during your next investment property flip to ensure you’re doing everything possible to ensure the best ROI.
Scott Clift is a licensed real estate broker with Westpark Loans. He has been in the real estate industry since 1994. His team of seasoned professionals specialize in providing real estate loans for investors and other self-employed individuals. When you are ready to invest in real estate, call Westpark Loans to secure your financing at (844) 574-LOAN or by visiting westparkloans.com.