Privacy is one of the most important factors affecting people’s decision. It tends to affect male buyers a little more than the female buyers since female buyers usually pay more attention to the interior of the house. If the house has a private backyard overseeing a green belt or open field, it can easily add 10K value to a property of $200K price range. If it has mountain view, valley view or ocean view, the price increase will be even more. On the other side, if your house sits in the middle of a slope and your higher neighbor can oversee your backyard easily, it will become a big hit to your property value.
If the backyard of the house faces another road, it also reduces the privacy. If it’s a corner lot, it loses privacy on one side. The hit on the property value is actually much more significant than what is realized by inexperienced home buyers. For example, a corner lot can easily take 10K off the value of a $200k investment home. If your backyard sits side by side with a swimming pool, or sits right across the street from a shopping plaza or an elementary school, the property value will all take a big discount.
If you already own a house with poor privacy, there are some remedies you can take to boost the privacy. The best way to do that is to plant thick and tall bushes. I’d recommend the red tip bushes which can grow to 6-10 feet in height and they are very dense as well. Plant the bushes as early as possible so that they have enough time to reach maturity. Don’t wait until you want to sell the houses.
For investment properties, privacy is usually not that critical since renters are usually not that picky. For renters, commuting convenience is usually more important. They can deal with a little exposure and noise since this is not their permanent home. When you buy an investment property with poor privacy, just make sure the property value has been properly discounted to account for the poor privacy. Usually, the hit on the rent you can collect is less than the hit on the property value. So if you can get a deal on the price, you can actually get better cash flow on the house.
If you are buying your primary residence and you are looking to spend a good amount of money, DO NOT buy a big house with poor privacy. You will have an extremely hard time selling the house when the time comes for you to move down. People buying big and luxury homes are very picky about privacy. You can still sell it but be prepared to take a HUGE discount in order to get rid of it. If you have a 400K house sitting on a lot right beside an noisy shopping plaza, the hit on the sale price can be $50k or even more compared with similar properties with no privacy issues.