The fence’s value boost depends on what materials you use, your neighborhood, what local buyers are looking for, and its condition.
Top real estate experts at HomeLight estimate that landscaped homes sell for 1-10% more than non-landscaped homes. Landscaping includes fencing, which can tie your entire landscape together and give it a more manicured appearance.
But while the ROI is iffy, there are still some reasons you might want to install a fence before you sell. A beautiful front yard fence frames a home and can add curb appeal. Plus, tall backyard fences can inspire buyers with furry friends to make an offer.
Here, we break down how a fence can impact your home sale, and how to install one.
How much does it cost to build a fence?
Constructing a fence isn’t cheap. As of 2022, installing a new one costs between $1,500-$4,000 on average, according to HomeAdvisor.
The factors that can impact the cost of your fence include:
- The length of your fence perimeter (measured in linear feet)
- The type and material of your fence
- Any necessary permits from your city or county
- If you hire a professional or DIY
The costs of your fence materials could range anywhere between $1-$45 per linear foot, and the average backyard perimeter is 150-170 linear feet. Front yards are typically smaller.
You’ll also want to think about how high you want your fence to be. Front yard fences are typically 3 feet high, while backyard fences are on the taller end, ranging from 6 to 8 feet.
The pros and cons of different fencing materials
There are several materials to choose from when deciding how to build your fence. The least expensive options are least likely to increase value or curb appeal.
Consider the following, priced low to high:
- Wood: Moderately priced and good for privacy
- Vinyl: Expensive, decorative, and low maintenance
- Aluminum: Expensive, low maintenance
- Wrought iron: Expensive, decorative, and higher maintenance
Classic wood and vinyl are the top picks of real estate agent Sue Goodhart, with 30 years of experience in the Alexandria, Virginia, area. “Plastic white-picket fences are popular because of (the maintenance factor),” says Goodhart. Many white picket fences are vinyl, which requires no maintenance whatsoever aside from the occasional hose down.
Your location and local climate can also impact your decision. Your fence can take a beating from heavy rain, wind, and snow. Wrought iron is the most durable, but you need to treat it regularly to help prevent rust. Aluminum looks similar to wrought iron and requires less maintenance. However, it’s not quite as durable.
If your top priority is privacy, then you can’t beat the classic and functional simplicity of wood.
What do you need to do before getting a fence installed?
Before you start building, you need to know your property lines. To find them, use your home’s plat (the map of your plot of land and boundaries). If you don’t have it, head down to the county assessor’s office or call a land surveyor to get you the right measurements.
Goodhart has seen several cases where a fence is in the wrong location, which can cause issues when it comes time to sell. If your fence is off of your property line, it gives buyers a false impression of where their future property ends and begins and may create difficulties or worse with neighbors who feel encroached on. Additionally, you’ll need to build around any lines for gas, electricity, water, or cable.
HomeAdvisor recommends getting your utilities company to come out to inspect wherever it is you plan to build. Also, check for tree roots and take a survey of your yard. Steep hills, rocky soil and other existing structures make the job more complicated and costly.
How to hire a qualified fence installer you can trust
Unless you’re ready to take on a complex DIY job, you’ll want to hire a professional for your fence job. A professional can help ensure your fence provides the curb appeal you’re seeking.
To find a qualified, trusted fence installer, ask your real estate agent if they have anyone in their network they’d vouch for. If you’re not working with an agent or simply not looking to sell, see if you can get a referral from one of your neighbors.
Looking at online reviews and references are also an important part of performing due diligence. Be sure to meet and interview a few installers and ask them about how their previous experience relates to your unique fencing needs.
Fence in bad shape? The case for fixing it before you list
While Goodhart wouldn’t encourage homeowners to add a new fence solely to sell their home, she would encourage them to fix their fence before listing if it’s not in the best shape.
If it’s a wooden picket fence, “it should be painted, looking fresh and well taken care of,” Goodhart adds. “If it’s damaged, broken or leaning, or if the wood is rotting,” then it may be time to repair your fence.
Additionally, if your fence is dated or out of style, or does not fit the general aesthetic of your neighborhood, consider removing it, even if you don’t end up replacing it.
For chain-link fencing, Goodhart advises that “chain-link fencing is not very attractive, so I will just ask people to pull it down. If you don’t want to spend the money to replace a chain link fence, then just remove it.”
You can also consider removing a fence altogether if it’s blocking a view.
As far as repairs go, be realistic about what you can fix yourself. If your fence is leaning, damaged or broken, it’s best to call a fence professional to get it back to its once-pristine condition.
What do buyers want in a fence?
A good fence provides privacy, protection, and adds to curb appeal and aesthetics. When asked why her homebuyers look for fences when house hunting, Goodhart said the need to keep pets and children contained and safe is paramount.
“The no. 1 reason I find is if they have dogs,” Goodhart says. Private outdoor spaces are especially important to dog owners when house-searching. This is especially true if the home is situated on or near a busy street.
Privacy is also high on many homebuyers’ lists of “wants.” In more urban areas, privacy fences are popular. Homebuyers like to be able to picture themselves relaxing in the backyard without anyone peeking in. They’re also popular in neighborhoods or cities with smaller lots, where fences can create more private space.
Will a fence increase your home’s value?
A fence is no small project. And if it’s not going to directly add value to your property before you sell, you’re better off improving the inside of the home or your landscaping in more tangible ways.
That’s not to say fences, if well-maintained, aren’t worth something. As a homeowner, you may personally enjoy the perks that come with having a fence, which can create a private oasis perfect for letting your pets run free. A charming fence around your home also wins instant curb appeal bonus points.
An appraiser who evaluates your house during the course of the sale will look at the fence and either add or subtract value based on its condition and what buyers in the area are looking for. In many instances, Goodhart says, letting the buyer choose whether or not they want to add their own fence is a safer bet than making the investment.
“I don’t know that a fence is a value-add,” Goodhart says. “But I think all staging and renovations, whenever you are improving the house, is going to [help your home] sell faster.”
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