If you are thinking about buying or selling a home soon in Ventura or Los Angeles county, you might be wondering what some of the hot features are that homeowners are looking for now. In part because of spending more time at home because of the pandemic, we are seeing backyards getting upgraded in big ways and one of the most popular additions is an outdoor fireplace. An outdoor fireplace is not to be confused with a firepit. A firepit can be permanent or moveable, but when we talk about an outdoor fireplace, we are taking the luxury level up a notch. A fireplace is a permanent fixture of a backyard and can become a focal point to make your home stand out from the pack, especially when it comes time to sell. 


Data from a recent survey of top real estate agents from the experts at HomeLight, shows that the popularity of this luxury amenity has surged during the last 18 months. Here are the numbers to provide it:  Nationwide 65 percent of agents said buyer interest in outdoor fireplaces has increased since March 2020. In our market, meanwhile, that number is even higher, at 67 percent, according to the HomeLight data. Let’s take a closer look at this on-trend backyard upgrade. 


Wood-burning or gas?

Like any major home upgrade, there are many outdoor fireplaces to choose from, at a variety of price points. If you are picturing an outdoor fireplace addition in your home, here are some factors to keep in mind. Agents shared that gas-burning models are currently adding the most value in their markets according to 48 percent of survey respondents. Wood-burning came in at a close second at 44 percent. The least popular was electric, at just 3 percent of agents in the survey. If you are undecided, keep in mind that gas is generally easier to maintain than wood-burning and wood-burning may also require special permission or be prohibited, especially if you have an HOA, so you’ll definitely want to do your research in advance.


Does an outdoor fireplace really add value?

Adding an outdoor fireplace is a commitment. But is it worth it? In California, the answer seems to be yes. Although outdoor fireplaces are desirable in many markets across the nation, the Pacific region by far saw the most dramatic increase in the value of outdoor fireplaces during the last 18 months, from $4,254 to $9,497, a 123 percent boost according to the survey. 


Will I get a return on my investment?

For those homeowners who are making backyard upgrades with an eye to selling a home soon, you’ll want to consider if adding more luxury will bring an ROI at sale time. Keep in mind that the price tag for an outdoor fireplace and its installation varies, but estimates show that custom work for a permanent outdoor fireplace structure could be $20,000 or more. With this feature adding around $10,000 to the value of your home, you’ll want to weigh if it’s worth it for you, given your timeline to sell.


One way to turn your backyard from an open outdoor space, into a relaxing lounge is to add an outdoor fireplace. There are many factors to consider, but there is no doubt that this upgrade is literally hot for 2021.