A property with a driveway makes it convenient for the homeowner to park a vehicle. In urban areas where on-street parking is hard to come by and garage rentals -- not to mention parking tickets -- are expensive, the promise of a dedicated parking spot is like gold for homebuyers. And of course, for households with more than one car, the bigger the driveway, the better.
Does this mean you should make a U-turn from investing in a property that doesn't have a driveway?
The perks of off-street parking
Aside from convenience, there's also added safety for car owners in having a driveway. While it's not quite the same as pulling into a garage and locking it up for the night, homeowners do like having the peace of mind to look out their window and see their vehicle parked in their own driveway.
If there's no driveway, homeowners must park on the street -- not always the one they live on, either -- and risk damage and theft. Plus, homeowners will likely have to pay a higher insurance premium, particularly in highly populated areas.
In the suburbs, where properties tend to be larger and more spread out, it's easier to park on the street. However, in areas that aren't walkable, homeowners might have multiple cars, depending on how many drivers are in the household. And as you may have already experienced, some neighbors can get rather particular about who parks in front of their house.
Should you add a driveway?
If the front yard can accommodate it, you might consider adding a driveway. According to HomeAdvisor (NASDAQ: ANGI), it costs an average of $4,424 to install a new driveway, though this can range between $2,379 and $6,478, depending on the dimensions of the driveway and materials used.
A driveway adds value to the home in terms of convenience and curb appeal, but the exact ROI will vary depending on a number of factors, including region, size of the home, and the materials used to construct the driveway. Materials can range from gravel to pavers to concrete. One could argue that regardless of the materials, a brand-new or even a well-maintained driveway will add value more than one in need of repair.
But before you get to digging, first consider the available space in front of the home. Will you have to dig up the whole lawn? Will the driveway take up the entire yard so a vehicle will all but block the entrance of the home? This could diminish the home's curb appeal, so it might be better to leave well enough alone.
Speaking of the curb, if it's to be altered in any way to accommodate a new driveway or widen the apron -- the part of the driveway closest to the road and curb -- you must get a permit. You might own the property, but you don't own the curb; it belongs to the city or town you live in. So while it's your prerogative to pave over the flower bed to park a car, should you need to cut into the curb, you'll need city or town approval.
The bottom line
A homebuyer hoping for a garage could easily settle for a driveway if the price is right. But will they settle for on-street parking if there's no driveway, either? It all depends on the home's other features. A completely turnkey home -- finished basement and all -- could be enough to get someone to delete off-street parking from their wish list. But a new or recently updated driveway can increase the value of a home with a convenient, safe place for a homeowner to park their vehicle.