Anyone for tennis? How what’s in the garden can seal the deal
The right garden can secure a sale, but what do buyers want? Sharon Dale reports.
WIMBLEDON starts on Monday, creating the annual upsurge of interest in racquet sport.
It’s an ideal time to market a property with a tennis court, according to Philip Procter of Chesterton Humberts in York, who reveals that a good grass or hard court is still a winning feature for luxury homes.
He says: “Tennis courts are universally accepted as a major selling point. I think it is true to say that a lot of women like playing tennis and if a court is in place it really sets the scene for them.
“Equally, it is a sign that the property has a large garden. The very fact that one exists is a major indicator of a substantial property.”
Tim Blenkin, of Blenkin and Co in York, agrees.
“The status symbols for the big country houses remain intact, in particular the tennis court and swimming pool, although their desirability only holds if the entire property is luxurious and if they are top of the range. An outdoor swimming pool in the gardens of a modest house turns money-conscious buyers away.”
The new country house status symbols tend to be a throwback, according to Tim and they include professionally landscaped gardens created to impress by a known designer and a productive kitchen garden, preferably organically cultivated and walled.
Whether you have a large or a small garden, the main attraction for most buyers is maturity, peace and quiet.
“A mature garden has a value of its own. It is impossible to play down the benefit of having a productive orchard, a gnarled 500 year old oak tree, two old apple trees perfectly placed for the hanging of a hammock or an old rambling rose. At the higher end of the country market, the value of mature gardens has long been cherished, but the new build market has more recently caught on to the idea, hence the larger budgets spent on the planting of trees, shrubs and perennials before the property comes on the market,” says Tim.
What people want from a garden has changed over the past 20 years according to agents and garden designers.
Buyers are looking for a link between the house and garden and they want a terrace or patio for al fresco dining and barbecues.
Now that gardens are seen as “outdoor rooms” buyers are also checking out orientation, so sunny, south facing land to the rear of the house is a strong selling point.
“Whereas family gardens used to be little more than lawns, shrubs and trees, now people partition their garden with an eye to its different functions: a play area for the children, a terraced or decking area, a summer house, a lawned area for ball games, beds to show off carefully planned planting and for all-year colour, raised beds for the growing of soft fruit and vegetables and perhaps a wildlife area.
A well-tended garden with all these elements will most certainly boost the desirability, and probably the price, of a family property,” says Tim.
The grow-your-own trend is a big influence on gardens and veg patches, raised beds and hen houses all present a lifestyle that people are keen to buy into.
They also like the idea of observing a variety of wildlife, so if your plants attract birds and butterflies it’s a bonus.
“The sale of bird seed and nuts in supermarkets indicates how ordinary homeowners are taking an interest in garden birdlife. Many people, when designing their garden, increasingly give thought to creating areas for nesting birds, feeding areas, wildlife areas to encourage hedgehogs and nettles for butterflies,” says Tim.
While a beautiful garden can encourage a sale, a poor one can be a turn off. Buyers don’t like to see too much hard landscaping or great swathes of decking.
Lizzie Tulip, an award-winning garden designer from York, says: “There has been a trend for hard landscaping but a green lawn shows plants off to their best.
“It makes them sing, whereas putting them next to grey Tarmac can have the opposite effect.”
A poor garden can be a turn-off. Buyers don’t like too much hard landscaping or decking.
Grass is good, she believes. It is easy on the eye and provides soft play space for children and for adults.
“We play more creatively in our gardens than we did years ago and that comes from clever design, planting and availability of interesting play equipment for both children and adults.
We also use our gardens more. What people want now is an outdoor living experience.
“They want an area for barbecues and wood burning stoves and they want garden lighting so they can use the space at night.”
With so many considerations, it’s worthwhile hiring a garden designer to give you advice.
As Lizzie Tulip says: “A welldesigned garden adds 10 per cent to the value of a property.
“So it’s well worth the investment.”
PERFECT MATCH: Sandreith at Malton has a hard tennis court as well as 1.3 acres of outside space, including formal and kitchen gardens and an orchard.
GREAT OUTDOORS: The Manor House, Carlton Husthwaite, near Thirsk, Price; £1.65m. Contact: Savills, York tel: 01904 617817, www.savills.com. This eight-bedroom Georgian house is set in 5.4 acres. The gardens have well-stocked flowerbeds, mature trees, a kitchen garden, extensive lawns and a pretty 18th century summer house. At the bottom of the garden is the timber stable block, with three stables and a tack room, which overlook paddocks.
AL FRESCO: South Duffield Lodge, near York. Price: £595,000. Contact: Blenkin and Co tel: 01904 671 672, www.blenkinadnco.com This six-bedroom detached house with large, attached barn has beautiful gardens. To the front of the property the garden is surrounded by mature trees and has an area of lawn with a pretty wildlife pond. To the side of the property is a wooded area with plenty of mature trees, and to the rear, the garden is well sheltered and divided between lawns and terraces, offering a perfect opportunity for al fresco dining.