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Baby Boomers fix up with Millennial buyers in mind

Dream garages zoom into the upwardly mobile home

By Erica Batten. When it comes to outdoor home improvements, Baby Boomers and Millennials are choosing the same products, if for slightly different reasons.


“It’s like the Baby Boomers are almost getting ready for the Millennials to buy their homes,” said Todd Cioppa, director of sales at MetroGreenscape in Charlotte, which designs and installs landscaping, hardscape features and other outdoor amenities.

Before downsizing, though, older sellers want to enjoy the enhanced lifestyle that outdoor features, such as covered patios, fire pits and decks can afford—for a few more years

at least. Garage improvements are popular as well, with high-end amenities suitable for indoors.

Cioppa said Baby Boomers feel that these features help to differentiate their homes from others on the market so that they “can sell quickly and for top dollar.”

The difference among the generations is not so much in product as in budget. Older homeowners, with accumulated equity, can install more elaborate hardscapes, water features, and other amenities than their younger counterparts who are paying out-of-pocket. Hip garages don’t just store car, they’re clubhouses for car owners to mingle and talk shop amidst climate control, a hydraulic lift and a giant TV (or two).

According to, the average homeowner, regardless of age, spends between $1,784 and $3,168 on each landscaping project, and the potential returns vary widely.

Swank patios are part of the suburban patois

Costs for full-scale installation of an outdoor living area can be anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000 and more.

Garages fit for a Packard convertible can run well into the six figures, above and beyond the cost of the floor and walls.

There are many improvements that can add value to any home. Low-maintenance landscaping, including xeriscaping, pays off in curb appeal and water costs.

Trees, too, can be a good long-term investment. What costs $100 at the plant nursery can add soon add several thousand dollars of value to a home. Those planning to move within three to five years should invest in more mature, and thus more expensive, trees. With any landscaping plan, it’s important to choose plants that will display color at varying times of the year to maintain the home’s curb appeal.

Cioppa said twell-conceived projects extend a home’s living spaces.

“People are just looking for extensions of their home,” he said. “They want to live outside.” Among the most popular projects his company works on are outdoor living rooms with fireplaces, outdoor kitchens and covered patios.

Automobile fanatics like to be near their cars, so typical home amenities like baths and kitchens are sharing space with the Corvette.

For Baby Boomers looking to downsize, renovating before selling is a must. Homes on Lake Norman can be 25 or more years old, built at a time when homeowners gave little thought to swank features.

Here the conventional wisdom about pools—that they are not a good investment—may not hold water.

“Pools are generally a lifestyle decision because they may not translate to the next buyer,” Cioppa said. “When you’re on the lake, the expectation is to have [a pool] because


people expect to be outside more.”

“I believe the most valuable outdoor improvements for Lake Norman properties are: a custom pool and spa that include water features or extra ‘wow’ factors, such as an infinity edge or gas lantern accents, and outdoor kitchens/living areas,” said Christina Stone, a Realtor with Allen Tate Realtors in Cornelius.

“When timeless finishes are applied, these items are always sought after and desirable by almost all buyers, regardless of age,” Stone said. “Designated outdoor living areas transcend generations and seem to have no age limit to their desirability.”

Whether it’s a trophy garage or a trophy patio, the wow factor helps sell.


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