How Much Land Do You Need?

Jun 10, 2024Buying Basics, Changing Homes, First-Time Home Buyers, Real Estate Tips

House with Trees

Especially since 2020, it has become clear to buyers that having access to outdoor space and natural lighting is good for their quality of life. Being able to get outside makes it easier to get a bit of direct sunlight every day. Light is part of why we enjoy outdoor space. Land is the another. Privacy is the third.

Just like with any other home buying decision, we recommend thinking about your purchase as a ten-year use for you and your household.



Good quality windows that are positioned to let the sun shine in is a big plus for house hunters. Pay attention to the orientation of the windows and whether another building will obstruct the light for part of the day. Also check the windows for energy efficiency.

City dwellers pay a premium price for attached outdoor space, like a patio or balcony. Decide ahead of time whether you expect that you would step outside every day to get sunlight and fresh air. If you are unlikely to use it, the property has less value for you.

Suburban and Rural

Light is affected by the presence or absence of trees. If you are planning on gardening, check the orientation so that you can identify a sunny patch. Removing trees is an expensive endeavor. Adding trees takes time for them to grow into good shade.



Houses and condos with private land are more valuable (and cost more) than houses and condos that have no land. Think about whether your use of the land justifies the expense.

The whole association pays the upkeep for roof decks, common yards, as well as pools and gyms. If a condo has outdoor space or shared recreation space in the building that you share with the other tenants, they add value (and cost) to the building and increase the condo fee.

If you are not going to use those features, keep in mind that If you don’t value those things, note the cost of those features before making an offer.

Suburban and Rural

Consider what you are going to do on that land, for the next ten years. If the area you are looking in has small lots, decide what the smallest lot that fits your need might be, then search that minimum and more. This takes some thought about whether there might be a garden, a play structure, a pool, or a volleyball field in your future.

Note Regarding Homeowner Associations

Some condo associations and owner associations expect owners to landscape their own areas. Others have a landscaping fee and restrict owners from planting for themselves. Depending on your preference, you may or may not like the way that an association handles outdoor spaces. If doing yard work – or not doing yard work – is important to you, then check the condo association rules before making an offer.



Space between buildings — specifically between your windows and the neighbors’ windows –creates the most privacy. If there are trees between you and your neighbors’ windows, that’s a bonus. Advice: look out all the windows before making an offer.

Suburban and Rural

Land creates privacy, and so do trees. The bigger the better? Maybe. Here are some negatives to big yards:

  • Is there too much gardening, mowing, and tree care that you’ll need to do or pay for?
  • Unusable space. Is some of the yard too hilly, or too rocky, or too soggy to really use?
  • Your property tax is calculated based on your land area as well as your house. Your taxes may be higher for a big lot with an unusable hill than for a house with a smaller, useful lot.

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