What Does Your Fence Tell Potential Buyers?

When it comes time to sell, people often focus on repainting the exterior and renovating the interior without giving a second thought to a prominent feature—their fence.  It is the first thing buyers will notice from the street.  Curb appeal matters and first impressions are lasting.  A rickety, rusty, old fence may scare buyers away before they ever set foot in your lovely home. 

If your fence is in poor condition, you have a few options.  You can repair it, take it down or replace it.  If you decide to replace your fence, you have the opportunity to choose a style and material that will complement your home and perhaps even add to its value.  For example, a split rail wooden fence is suitable for a rustic rancher or farm home.  Picket or palisade fences look nice with almost any style of home from English cottage to modern urban.  Although important, appearance is just one of few key considerations.

Maintenance and Longevity

A new fence that promises low maintenance and longevity will be a selling point with most home hunters.  One of the best new products on the market is recycled plastic fencing.  Say good-bye to scraping and repainting wooden fence rails, toxic chemicals to remove rust from iron fences, and hungry termites munching on your wooden posts.  The hard, recycled plastic used for fencing is almost indestructible and the colour will never chip off because it permeates the plastic.  This product is available in a variety of colours and styles (e.g., picket, palisades, post/rail).  To clean off the dirt that builds up over the seasons, simply wash with a biodegradable cleaner diluted in water.

Maintaining a wrought iron fence can be very labour intensive and even buyers who appreciate the Old World charm may not relish the thought of stripping, sanding, rust-proofing and repainting every five years.  In humid climates or seaside locations, rust will occur more quickly and your fence will require more frequent upkeep.  Fortunately, manufacturers have come up with aluminium products that look as nice as iron but never rust.  

Before recycled plastic products came on the market, wood was the most popular material for fencing.  Since the mid-1600’s in the Atlantic states, nothing has symbolized idyllic homeownership more than the white picket fence.  In the past 400 years or so, countless wooden fences have fallen to the ravages of rot and termites.  To keep a wooden fence looking good and lasting as long as possible, it should be painted every year or two.

Function

Privacy: Is your neighbour’s home too close for comfort?  Does your home have an undesirable view?  A privacy fence is a good solution.  A tall fence is also good for keeping in pets and young children or keeping out your neighbour’s pets and children!  In some regions, wildlife is also a problem.  A fence with narrow slats will prevent deer, raccoons and other wildlife from nibbling on your garden and kitchen garbage.

Noise control: Living beside a busy road or loud neighbours can definitely detract from the appeal of a home.  A tall fence or a living fence (bushes) can help to block sound.  Evergreens are a popular choice for living fences but consider these options that add beauty along with noise reduction:

  • Blackhaw viburnum produces white flowers in the spring, colourful foliage in the fall, and without pruning can grow to approximately four metres (14 feet) high.
  • Caragana (also called the Pea Bush for its delicate pea-like blossoms) is native to Russia and China making it very cold tolerant.  This bush can grow to five metres (16 feet) high and will thrive in most soil types.
  • Cotoneaster bushes are another popular choice because of their attractive, shiny leaves and red berries, which are edible for birds.  Since there are many varieties of Cotoneaster, check with your local nursery for plants that are suitable to your climate.
Security: Criminals tend to be lazy; if there is a home with a fence and one without, they will choose the one without any obstacles.  To enhance the security of your property, install a tall, sturdy fence or bushes with thorns.  Although chain link fences are inexpensive and functional, they will likely detract from the value of your home.  People tend to associate chain link with industrial and commercial properties.  (If you have a chain link fence but do not wish to remove it, try covering it will fast growing, flowering vines such as Honeysuckle and Clematis.) 

Decorative: If you are fortunate enough to have no issues with privacy, noise or security, you can choose your fence entirely for decorative reasons.  Ornate metal fences (aluminium is lower maintenance than iron), a picket fence painted to match your home, a glass fence, a river rock wall… there is no limit to your options except your budget!

Making repairs to an old fence or replacing it will help to ensure that your home makes its best first impression with buyers.

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