Some San Francisco Bay Area homebuyers will buy a home only if it has a bay view. When previewing homes, they walk to the windows with views first. If the view meets their expectations, they then look at the rest of the house.
For buyers like this, the view is the primary reason to buy at all. To them, a view will be worth more than it would be to buyers with small children who need a level backyard that is easily accessible from the main living area. A view might be nice, but they wouldn’t necessarily pay extra for one.
Generally, water views add value to homes, but the range in increased value can be enormous and depends on various factors. In enclaves where most houses have water views, the price added will depend on the quality of the view. Does the home provide only a glimpse of the water or a full-on view of the bay, several bridges and downtown San Francisco, for example?
Vistas of mountains, valleys and architecturally significant structures like Westminster Abbey in London can also add value. No view at all will lower value in comparison to homes that have views, particularly in metropolitan cities like New York City.
Lower-level condos and co-ops in Manhattan that not only have no view, but receive little, if any, light will sell for much less than comparable living spaces located on higher levels of a building. A city or Hudson River view will command a higher price, and a view of Central Park could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars more.
An unobstructed view that cannot be blocked in the future is worth more than one that has an outlook over an ugly roof or a mishmash of crisscrossing telephone wires. Worse still is the view that will disappear when a home is built nearby.
HOUSE HUNTING: If a view means a lot to you, make sure that it won’t disappear at some point in the future. Some cities have height restrictions on building new construction. Oakland, Calif., has a tree ordinance that can benefit homeowners who have views that become obstructed by trees on neighbors’ properties. However, the city won’t enforce the ordinance. It’s up to the neighbors to work issues out between themselves.
Some views require maintenance. It can be expensive to trim your neighbor’s trees, with the neighbor’s permission, to preserve your view. It’s worth it if the view adds value to your home. If trees on your property are obstructing a nice water view, it’s a good idea to trim them before you put your home on the market.
Unpleasant outlooks can be a turnoff to buyers. Stagers who help sellers get their home ready to sell often want all window coverings removed. Even so, it’s better to show your home with a decorative window covering that lets in light rather than to have buyers subjected to looking into a neighbor’s bedroom or a blank side of their house. Show off green outlooks by removing the window coverings.
Sellers who are concerned about their neighbors’ deferred maintenance should let them know that they’re putting their home on the market. If peeling paint is a cost issue for the neighbors, it may be a good investment for you to offer to have the garage door or sun side of their home painted at your expense before your home goes on the market.
A privacy screen in the backyard or on the side of a deck that is open to the neighbors could increase the value of your home.
THE CLOSING: A private outdoor living space, like pretty outlooks, adds value to your home.
Dian Hymer, a real estate broker with more than 30 years’ experience, is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author of "House Hunting: The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers" and "Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer’s Guide."
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