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It’s no secret that Santa Cruz buyers have outdoor amenities at the top of their wish lists — who wouldn’t want to take advantage of our great weather, with a backyard, surfboard storage, or maybe even an outdoor shower. But what exactly is that recipe for the ideal outdoor space in 2021? The real estate experts at HomeLight polled more than 1,000 agents across the United States to assess the market in its Q4 2020 insights survey, breaking down what buyers are looking for by region, including buyers’ interests on the Pacific Coast. Here are some upgrades that are top of mind for Santa Cruz-area buyers. 

A deck or patio is a must

Social distancing has put outdoor living spaces at a premium, and now square footage is not only about how much space you have on the inside of your home. Outdoor patios and decks are almost a must these days, not only for every day, but to entertain guests. With lumber prices on the rise, sellers are looking to upgrade these outdoor areas with composite wood, which is more durable and can offer a better return on your investment. 

Get cooking, outdoors

With mild weather, backyard barbecues are a must, and that’s true this year more than ever. In the West, buyers are looking for more than just grilling areas, they are taking these spaces to the next level, with full outdoor kitchens. In the survey, 57 percent of agents in the Pacific said ranges, refrigerators, sinks, and wet bars, are all some of the amenities that buyers want.

Privacy please

One issue with any outdoor space is making sure that it’s private. This could be why nearly 50 percent of agents across the country, the West included, said hedges or fences are top of mind for buyers. One of the major trends that realtors are seeing on top-selling homes is giving hedges or fences a dual purpose to add a design element with green or decorative features. 

Cozy campfires

To take outdoor entertaining up a notch, especially in the evening, buyers are raging over fire pits, as more than 50 percent of agents in the survey shared. Because Santa Cruz has a climate where homeowners can use this feature yearound, you might want to consider an inground installation, which will become a permanent feature of your property. If you aren’t sure you want to make a major investment, you can go for a movable fire pit, which can be more like a home campfire, and can even be moved to different areas of your yard.

Taking these features into consideration when you are upgrading your backyard can help you better appeal to buyers. How you incorporate them into your layout will depend on the space you have to work with and your budget. A real estate agent can help you compare similar homes in your neighborhood to see how to stay competitive, and the best way to add upgrades that buyers will love.

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