Real Estate News & Commentary

Add Value to Your Investment Properties with Organic Gardens

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56 Articles Written

I am about the furthest you can get from being a green thumb.  Even as a vegetarian I categorize veggies as ‘green’ or ‘not-green’ colored.  I was a meat three times a day guy until I gave it up 10 years ago. Although I’m a green guy I am pretty far from those elitist only-eat-organic-god-forbid-I-have-a-carrot-that-wasn’t-grown-fair-trade-by-Uraguan-farmers-within-10-miles-of-my-house people.  Clearly gardening is not my thing.

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However I am decent at spotting trends especially when the world of green intersects with real estate investing.  Here’s what’s happened recently:

  1. I’m constantly thinking about what green features are worth most to prospective buyers.
  2. I built a small vegetable garden in our backyard (see pic) for my wife, Kelly.
  3. Every time we’ve had people over recently (2 kids under 6 yrs old so lots of play-dates, birthday parties, etc.) our friends always comment on how they love the garden.

Based on my observations over the last six months I really think that an organic garden could add value to an investment property.  I’ve never tested it (I will) but after numerous positive comments, etc. I believe it to be true.  It’s funny but it really is one of the first things anyone mentions when they come to our house for the first time.

Here’s why I believe an organic garden would add value to your investment properties:

  1. It’s unique.  Probably 1 in 25 houses in any neighborhood in the US (except Austin/Portland) has one.
  2. It’s eye-catching.  With bright flowers and veggies it naturally spruces up any backyard.
  3. It costs less than $200 and 4 hours to build. I put mine together at midnight on Christmas Eve (after several glasses of wine) so I could surprise my wife the next morning.
  4. It screams ‘green!’ and leaves a positive connotation with a potential buyer.

Again, I have not tested this theory yet but will soon.  If you’re interested in testing it as well, here’s what I’d do:

  1. Measure out the area and try to have at least 4 feet by 6 feet.
  2. Buy the lumber and get it cut at Home Depot or Lowe’s.
  3. Use wood screws (not nails) to put it together.
  4. Use good soil.
  5. Plant colorful veggies (tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, etc.).
  6. Plant marigolds, they keep bugs and insects away and look cool.
  7. That’s it. Very simple.

Unlike many other rehab decisions (Should I use marble counter-tops or bamboo floors?) this one won’t cost you much if it doesn’t work out.  Overall I believe it will help you sell you property faster and be something that you potential buyers see as valuable.

If anyone has experience selling homes with organic gardens I’d love to hear from you in the comments. As I said, I only came to the realization after about the 100th comment (slow learner?) on our garden.  

Could be interesting.

    Jeff Brown
    Replied almost 9 years ago
    Hey Jim — Allow me to be Devil’s Advocate here. Why would an investor literally add value to an offer to buy a rental due to it’s organic backyard garden? Do you mean something other than literal monetary value? I assume the tenant(s) will ‘farm’ the garden? Will the value be added via higher rent? Thanks
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied almost 9 years ago
    Hey Jeff, No problem at all. I’m not sure I understand your question but my point was that organic gardens are an added feature that you (as the investor selling the property) can leverage to make your property stand out and may gain a higher offer with retail buyers. Wholesaling to other investors is a different deal entirely if I understand your question. make sense?
    Jeff Brown
    Replied almost 9 years ago
    It makes senses right up to the point when it attracts a retail buyer to offer more. Have a great weekend, Jim.
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied almost 9 years ago
    Thanks, Jeff. I agree that I don’t think a retail buyer will walk in and pay $5k more because there’s an organic garden there. I do think it will add value and am going to test it out. I’ll let you know what I find out. Thanks, have a good weekend and let’s catch up for coffee soon.
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied almost 9 years ago
    Thanks, Jeff. I agree that I don’t think a retail buyer will walk in and pay $5k more because there’s an organic garden there. I do think it will add value and am going to test it out. I’ll let you know what I find out. Thanks, have a good weekend and let’s catch up for coffee soon. Reply Report comment
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied almost 9 years ago
    Thanks, Jeff. I agree that I don’t think a retail buyer will walk in and pay $5k more because there’s an organic garden there. I do think it will add value and am going to test it out. I’ll let you know what I find out. Thanks, have a good weekend and let’s catch up for coffee soon. Reply Report comment
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied almost 9 years ago
    Thanks, Jeff. I agree that I don’t think a retail buyer will walk in and pay $5k more because there’s an organic garden there. I do think it will add value and am going to test it out. I’ll let you know what I find out. Thanks, have a good weekend and let’s catch up for coffee soon.
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied almost 9 years ago
    Thanks, Jeff. I agree that I don’t think a retail buyer will walk in and pay $5k more because there’s an organic garden there. I do think it will add value and am going to test it out. I’ll let you know what I find out. Thanks, have a good weekend and let’s catch up for coffee soon. Reply Report comment
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied almost 9 years ago
    Thanks, Jeff. I agree that I don’t think a retail buyer will walk in and pay $5k more because there’s an organic garden there. I do think it will add value and am going to test it out. I’ll let you know what I find out. Thanks, have a good weekend and let’s catch up for coffee soon. Reply Report comment
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied almost 9 years ago
    Thanks, Jeff. I agree that I don’t think a retail buyer will walk in and pay $5k more because there’s an organic garden there. I do think it will add value and am going to test it out. I’ll let you know what I find out. Thanks, have a good weekend and let’s catch up for coffee soon.
    Jeff Brown
    Replied almost 9 years ago
    You bet!
    Bilgefisher
    Replied almost 9 years ago
    Jim, I really like this idea. We had one in our recent house that we just converted to a rental. Total cost was less than $25. Home depot has $1.27 8ft landscaping timbers that work great for an elevated garden. 8×4 garden took 4 timbers, eight 12″ nails and 4 bags of planters soil. Heck the planters soil is the most expensive part. What I like about the idea is that its one more item to make the rental feel like a home. It won’t rent my property by itself, but adds very nicely to the picture I’m trying to create with my rentals. Jason
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied almost 9 years ago
    Thanks, Jason. Let me know how it goes, ok? Jim
    Justin
    Replied almost 9 years ago
    Brilliant! Chelsea has been aching to put one in, which looks like it is going to be my “honey-do” this weekend. I’ll suggest this to the in-laws as well, who are putting a house up for sale in the next 30 days. Last trip to my folks up in Modesto, I noticed my Mom had planted swiss chard in her front yard. She had no idea it was edible, but after we made her a salad, she was quite impressed! Swiss chard: gorgeous landscaping and super nutritious!
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied almost 9 years ago
    Thanks, Justin. I really do think that this could be a winner. We just need to try it out and see how it goes…Jim
    Tamara
    Replied almost 9 years ago
    Im so glad to see people thinking like this. Im a newbie investor and I DO eat mostly local, even tho im not a vegetarian. 😉 Ive always wondered if real estate investors ever install gardens at their properties. It also makes me wonder what other ‘green’ features investors are showcasing in their properties as i would like to do that too in my future properties. 🙂
    Jim Simcoe
    Replied almost 9 years ago
    Thanks, Tamara, I appreciate your comments..Jim
    Meredith McKenzie
    Replied almost 9 years ago
    Jim: Great article and I totally agree! You might also want to check out my Trulia blog on the real estate trend towards Urban Homesteading: http://www.trulia.com/blog/meredith_mckenzie/2011/05/altadena_s_urban_homestead_movement Meredith
    Meredith McKenzie
    Replied almost 9 years ago
    Jim: Great article and I totally agree! You might also want to check out my Trulia blog on the real estate trend towards Urban Homesteading: http://www.trulia.com/blog/meredith_mckenzie/2011/05/altadena_s_urban_homestead_movement Meredith
    Jim
    Replied about 6 years ago
    Hi Jim, As an Australian (and an avid gardener) I just wanted to comment to agree with your ideas here, I think a vegetable garden is a great investment whether it be a longer term option for a home owner or a shorter term prospect for a rental or property soon to hit the market. There is a strong trend for self sustainability in Australian gardening and it looks like the trend is only going to continue. Reply Report comment
    Jim
    Replied about 6 years ago
    Hi Jim, As an Australian (and an avid gardener) I just wanted to comment to agree with your ideas here, I think a vegetable garden is a great investment whether it be a longer term option for a home owner or a shorter term prospect for a rental or property soon to hit the market. There is a strong trend for self sustainability in Australian gardening and it looks like the trend is only going to continue.