It’s a good bet that certain home upgrades — the kitchen and master bathroom in particular — will increase the value of your home. But some neighborhood features are so attractive to buyers that they can increase your home’s value too. Here are eight neighborhood and community amenities you shouldn’t overlook.
1. Hiking trails
Hiking can give you a decent cardio workout while you enjoy the great outdoors. So neighborhoods with access to hiking trails are bound to score some bonus points with house hunters. That’s how homeowner Megan Wild feels about the trails in her Carlisle, PA, neighborhood. The main trail in Wild’s neighborhood is 1.5 miles long, and she walks it frequently. “It’s fairly manageable for kids, and almost everyone with a dog walks up there,” she says, adding that it’s a “secret” perk for locals, since it’s not promoted outside the neighborhood. And it’s an amenity she appreciates. “I would value it at an additional $500 to $1,000 to a home’s sales price.”
2. Mature trees
Developers sometimes cut down large, healthy trees since it’s often easier to do that — and plant new trees — than to preserve them. But those desirable, well-established neighborhoods buyers love often have a thriving, lush tree canopy. The shade and character offered by older trees can add more than just aesthetics. “The more natural a neighborhood is — regarding trees — the higher the neighborhood value is,” says Sacha Ferrandi, founder of Source Capital Funding, a California-based direct lending company. But just how much value? Ferrandi cites a survey from the University of Washington that found that, on average, “trees in one’s front yard add 3% to 5% to the home value, and in high-income areas, neighborhood trees can increase the area’s value by up to 15%,” says Ferrandi.
All homebuyer Marcia Noyes wanted to find on her home search in New Braunfels, TX, was a cottage with a front porch on a small lot. After much searching — and lots of eliminating the too-large homes she came across — she found a cozy home on Trulia she loved. But what sold her and her partner wasn’t the home’s square footage. Instead, it was the interesting neighborhood around it. From this house, she could walk to “a narrow street of small boutique businesses, a wine bar, a martini shop, a cigar bar,” and more. “All the parking is behind the businesses, so you feel like it’s a quaint German or European village,” says Noyes. “It truly is the most special place.” Realizing she’d found the perfect home, she offered cash and closed on the house in eight days. “I would have paid whatever was asked to move into this place,” she says.
4. Historic homes
Historic districts typically ooze character and charm, and are often located in walkable communities. They practically invite you to get out and explore your surroundings and learn about your neighborhood’s story. Even better, historic homes also tend to increase in value more quickly than the overall local market, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Concerned about the maintenance or upkeep a historic home needs? Look for a new-construction home in a historic area.
5. Dog parks
Buyers like to purchase homes in neighborhoods with parks and green space, and will often spend more to live in communities that offer them. But Americans are also spending more money than ever on their pets, and of those households, the majority are dog owners, according to the American Pet Products Association. That can make neighborhood pet amenities like dog parks and walking trails even more desirable — even increasing nearby home values. A clean dog park with plenty of well-trained pets enjoying it can make a neighborhood look and feel friendlier. “Dog parks are a huge draw, especially in urban or urban core neighborhoods where houses may have small or no yards,” says Jake Knight, a California real estate investor.
6. Retail and essentials nearby
Whether you live in an urban or rural area, convenient access to essential services and shopping is key. And it’s a factor home appraisers consider when evaluating real estate values. “Within the neighborhood, homeowners should have easy access to retail services, preferably in larger retail centers with grocery anchor tenants, numerous bank branches, and a variety of restaurants,” says Greg Stephens, chief appraiser for Metro-West Appraisal Co., a national real estate appraisal company that operates out of Detroit, MI. “Police and fire support should be local and visible,” he adds.
7. Future amenities
Find out what upgrades your city has in store by looking online for planning documents. They should reveal what improvements are planned and when they’re scheduled to be completed. You could also call city hall to ask about future growth. Maybe there’s a streetscaping plan in the works or new amenities planned for the area, or maybe you’ll find that desirable retailers such as Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or Target are on the way, which could further boost home values once the stores are well-established.
8. Organized community groups
You might have heard the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child.” It also takes a “village” or group of active participants to keep up or improve a neighborhood. Strong community support can provide valuable neighborhood vision (and oversight), which in turn attracts buyers. “Neighborhood watch is huge, especially in neighborhoods with families and children,” says Stephens. “Keeping-the-neighborhood-clean programs also enhance the desirability of properties within the neighborhood, which equates to market demand and favorable sales prices,” he adds. And although abiding by your neighborhood homeowners association’s rules might feel limiting sometimes, a good HOA will help maintain and enhance the value of your property.