As our home prices continue to fall, you might ask yourself what you can do to help retain what equity you may have left, if any. The answer is simple, consider street appeal. Did you know that messy yards can lower your home value, and the homes in your area, as much as 15% pursuant to the Appraisal Institute*? The math is also simple. For example, if you feel your house is worth $200,000 in today’s market, divide by 0.85. You will see that your house could be worth approximately $235,000 if it wasn’t for blight attributed to unkempt yards in your neighborhood, in theory. Now take that $35,000 in lost equity, and multiply it by the 50 or so homes in your immediate area, and you’ll see that you and your neighbors could be losing up to $1,750,000 in equity. Additionally, a cluster of unkempt and cluttered yards can, and likely will, stigmatize an area. There can be long term benefits if a neighborhood presents itself well, and avoids potential home buyers developing a bad first impression that may last for years. In this time of economic hardship, it is imperative that every homeowner makes the most out of their home investment. Remember, $5,000 in equity can easily make or break a refinancing deal that could, in turn, save you tens of thousands of dollars.
Some of you may be happy that you’re paying fewer taxes due to your depressed home value, but did you ever take time to think of how the lost tax revenue to the County affects your life? We all enjoy living in our natural environment; it’sprobable that many of us appreciated County’s prompt attention to picking up roadside trash when the County could afford to pay to keep our roads clean. It’s not to say that this particular issue would be solved if your neighbor cleaned up their messy yard, but it does eventually all tie together. Furthermore, it is likely that the amount of taxes you’re saving is very minor to the amount of equity you could cash in on, should you need to sell your house. If your fence is broken down, consider either repairing it properly, or simply removing it. A broken-down or unprofessionally patched fence implies neglect, another culprit in property devaluation. When the perception of your neighborhood improves, likely so will the equity in your home.