A south-facing garden has long been a selling point for estate agents, with home buyers able to look forward to sunlight at most times of the day.
As such, those with the luxury of owning one have long found that their properties attract higher offers than their neighbours across the road.
But with the pandemic meaning that outside space is more highly sought after than ever before, a south-facing aspect has now become the ultimate bargaining chip for home sellers, according to research by the estate agent comparison site GetAgent.
So how much is having one really worth?
The survey suggests that two in five Britons would be prepared to pay a premium for a south- facing garden – with some willing to fork out 20% more
According to GetAgent, 71 per cent of UK home buyers are more likely to buy a house with a south-facing garden.
‘If a buyer loves a property, they don’t generally turn it down because of the aspect of the garden,’ says Lynn Simmonds, associate director at Hamptons in Cheltenham.
‘But if two identical or very similar houses are on the market on the same road, and one has a south-facing garden and the other a north-facing garden – the house with the south-facing garden will sell first.’
The fact that these gardens are so desirable could also secure homeowners a higher price when selling.
Roughly two in five home buyers said they would pay more for a property with a south-facing garden.
‘We often see estate agents deploy a good deal of creativity when it comes to selling a home, plugging the strangest of features as desirable,’ says Colby Short, founder and chief executive of GetAgent.
‘But a south-facing garden is one of those traditional aspects that really will appeal to buyers, and so it’s vital to communicate this fact when bringing your property to market.
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of having outdoor space for many people
‘Not only will it help you attract more buyer interest, which can drive up the sum offered for your home as it is, but it could also tempt them to push their budget that little bit further when they do submit an offer.’
Of the homebuyers who said they would pay more for a south facing garden, almost three quarters said they would pay 5 per cent more for the privilege, whilst 23 per cent said they would pay as much as 10 per cent extra to secure it.
This means, with average UK asking prices at £321,064 according to Rightmove, roughly two in five homebuyers would be willing to pay either £16,053 or £32,106 more for a south-facing garden.
A small proportion even said they viewed a south-facing garden with such importance, they would be happy to pay 20 per cent or more of a property’s value to secure it.
‘I think demand has always been higher for gardens which face south,’ says Christopher Burton, head of Knight Frank’s office in Dulwich.
‘It has become even more important during the pandemic and if anything, I am a little surprised this survey only found 71 per cent of homebuyers to be more likely to buy a property with a south-facing aspect.
‘People are often very fixated with wanting to get sun in their garden, and having been through consecutive lockdowns, people have been spending more time in their gardens than ever before.’
Would buyers really pay up to 20 per cent more?
Paying as much as 20 per cent more for a south-facing garden may seem a little extreme to some – particularly considering the UK climate where you are not necessarily guaranteed good weather even in July or August.
‘In 38 years of buying and selling homes I have never known a buyer who would only look at south facing gardens – I’m afraid it’s just another urban myth,’ says Henry Pryor, a professional buying agent.
‘Given the choice most people prefer a south-facing garden to one that faces north, but many people can’t afford to be this picky.
‘Some people will expect this to be reflected in the price, but the majority will trade the aspect for other factors like school catchment area.
Christopher Burton of Knight Frank suspects people with south-facing gardens are typically happier with their homes and stay for longer
‘But where it can be quantified, a south-facing garden can be worth 10 per cent more than the equivalent property with a north-facing garden.’
Some experts also believe that those with sunnier gardens tend to be happier where they live, and therefore may tend to stay for longer.
‘Of the properties we sell, perhaps 60 to 70 per cent tend to be with a north or east-facing garden rather than a south or west-facing aspect,’ says Burton.
‘I suspect people who live in south or west-facing homes tend to enjoy living in their homes more and end up staying there for longer – hence why we perhaps see fewer coming to market.’
Aspect isn’t everything
Whether it faces north, south, east or west is not the only thing to think about when it comes to finding the perfect garden.
The size of the garden, its level of privacy and the general condition are all worthy considerations.
It may also be that the neighbouring properties or trees that surround it blot out the sunlight, no matter what direction the garden faces.
‘A south facing garden does not guarantee you direct sunlight,’ says Burton.
‘For example, in city centre locations where gardens are typically smaller, the aspect is much more important. With a 30-foot garden, you may not get any sun at all during the day if it’s north-facing.
‘But away from city centres where people typically have larger gardens, it becomes less important as there will be parts of the garden that will benefit from sunlight throughout the day, no matter the direction of the sun.
‘I’ve seen some houses that are south-facing, but because they have small gardens the sun is entirely blocked by a neighbouring property.’
There are also some pitfalls to a south-facing garden – namely the heat and potential lack of shade.
‘Whilst it is lovely to have sun all day, the disadvantage is that it can make the back of the house, often the kitchen, too hot to live or cook in without blinds, says Simmonds.
‘Also, if you have a conservatory it can be too hot to enjoy in the summer months.’
What about east or west-facing gardens?
Whilst south-facing gardens may be the most popular, there are also benefits to having an east or west-facing aspect.
‘In reality, most urban homes have an east or west-facing garden – the streets run north to south to get around this problem,’ said Pryor.
‘Estate agents then either sell the benefits of a sunny terrace to have breakfast on or the perfect place for sundowners.
‘In reality, a property with a south-facing garden is usually not an appreciable amount more than one with either an east or west facing garden.’
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