The Value of a View & What to Do if You Don’t Have One

by Rana WaxmanJanuary 24, 2018

For urban dwellers, the expression “you pay for the view” could be a reason to exchange seeing out for seeing in. How important is a view vs. space and square footage? What should you do if you don’t have a view? These questions are good to figure out ahead of time, especially for couples who may ‘view’ things differently from one another.

The Value of a Great View

An appraiser will tell you that the old adage “location, location, location” still rings true and that a view adds value to a property. Per the Appraisal Journal, “residential lots with a view command significantly higher prices.” The exact price of a view may be hard to pinpoint, but as more properties are constructed, the chances of finding a great view may be harder to find, or for that matter, afford.

How Much is a View Really Worth?

Just how much is a great view worth? Well, the quick answer is that it depends on the location and type of view. Is it an ocean view, city skyline, mountain view or just an unobstructed view where you don’t face a brick wall? The best way to evaluate just how much that great view costs is to compare two equal properties, one with a view, the other without.

  • Higher Ups: In Philadelphia, a 2 bed, 2 bath condo unit with 1427 square feet on the first floor could sell for $10,000 less than a somewhat smaller 2 bed, 2 bath condo unit above it. This added price tag is to be on the top floor, so better light and views of trees rather than pedestrians. In other words, unobstructed views are worth something too.
  • Iconic Skyline: Many of the most famous views command top dollar because they come attached to a luxury property. The National Association of Realtors lists a few sought-after views and the premium you need to pay in order to have it.
    • Manhattan, NYC – Central Park = 39.9% premium
    • San Francisco, California – Golden Gate Bridge = 33.1% premium
    • Miami Beach, Florida – South Beach = 103.4% premium
    • Chicago, Illinois – Lake Michigan = 96.8% premium
    • Las Vegas, Nevada – The Strip = 210% premium
  • Rooftop Deck: Generally, a rooftop deck is a commodity in a big city. Especially when your property isn’t on a huge lot with garden space. You might expect to tack on another 5% for this type of view but it depends on the area and market.
  • On Top of the Hill: Whether you can see other properties from medium elevation or better yet, see out over your region from higher ground, you might expect 6% on up, though unobstructed water views can garner up to 80% in some areas and markets.

The Classic Debate: Space Versus View

There is not necessarily a consensus about which is preferable – a view or more space. To be sure, a view often makes a space more valuable. However, even the best view cannot compensate for bad space.

Do you prefer a small place with a great view? Is location more important than what your windows face? Would you prefer a home with no view as long as there is lots of space? These are all good questions to answer.

What to Do When You Don’t Have a View

Given that a view can add depth and dimension to any size dwelling, you may want to replicate this feeling if your place is up against a wall so to speak. In fact, there is something to be said about keeping the world out and creating a private space.

Here are a few ways to use your windows wisely, especially if you don’t have a great view.

  • Use Your Green Thumb. Personally, when my last kitchen faced a brick wall, all I could do because I needed the light, was to use the window for a mini garden of succulents. Then again, it was a rental. Ownership is a game-changer.
  • Light It Up. Unless you prefer dark colors, which could cozy up a space, maximize your interior lighting. This could be through an extra table lamp, standing lamp, spotlights or just a linen color on the walls.
  • Focus Elsewhere. A bad view could be a little bit of a downer so focus on something else in the room. Draw attention to your fireplace mantle, art collection, or whatever you have that you like. Plus, you may have saved tons of money by not paying for a view, so that is something to keep in mind too.
  • Made in The Shade. Window treatments are the key to success. Laura and Ami of the Shade Store in Philadelphia say that function and minimalizing unwanted views (pedestrians, recycling bins, brick, your neighbors, walls) are things to consider.

On the one hand, if your space is big and you like a bold approach, they recommend using shades as a design element (art piece) with drapery on the side to add drama. Today’s shades come in multiple colors, so you could theoretically match a deep purple paint with a similar tone shade.
Similarly, you could use windows to filter light and add to the warmth of a room. In this case, you might want to use the shade to accent furniture, much like a throw pillow. Or, entirely blend a light color shade with similar light-colored walls. This may lend a more peaceful energy to your home.
Finally, for those who have nothing great to look at street-level (e.g. a parking lot) but everything above that is light and sky, there are ‘top down’ blinds. These have a different pulley system so basically, you can decide what to filter out.

Weighing the Options

If you have always had a home with a view, chances are, it will be important for you, or you take it for granted. To a certain extent, the value of a view will always be what someone will pay for it or how much it is appreciated.

Certainly, the higher up you go in a condo or apartment, the longer you may have to wait for an elevator, your balcony could be super windy, and the novelty could wear off. Then again, if you are looking at a next home purchase from the investor’s point of view, research seems to point to the value of a view.

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About The Author
Rana Waxman
Rana Waxman parlays years of work experience in several fields into web content creation aligned with client needs. Rana's versatile voice is supported by a zest for research, a passion for photography, and desire to provide clients with a purposeful presence online. In her non-writing hours, Rana is a happy yogini, constant walker, avid reader, and sometimes swimmer.