Porches Adding to Local Home Values, Quality of Life

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A house currently for sale on Turrell Avenue in South Orange, NJJ boasts a wrap-around porch. Courtesy of GSMLS.

A house currently for sale on Turrell Avenue in South Orange, NJ boasts a wrap-around porch. Courtesy of GSMLS.

Are porches making a comeback in Maplewood and South Orange?

A quick survey of local homeowners, architects and realtors would indicate that the answer is yes. They never really went away in our towns, but they are getting gussied up like never before. And new home buyers are citing the porch as a deal-maker.

Recently, local real estate broker Allison Ziefert of Keller Williams posted a story from the Wall Street Journal titled “The Porch Makes a Comeback” to her Facebook page, with the sentence, “A client with a great porch shared this with me.”

The Wall Street Journal cited Census Bureau statistics reporting that 63% of new single-family homes completed in 2013 had porches—up from 42% in 1993.

We asked Ziefert if porches were making a difference in house sales.

In short, Ziefert said that, yes, porches can have an impact. Though she said they are not “as important as renovated baths and ktichens … porches lend an incredible amount of curb appeal and livability to a property. They are evocative of home in the same way that fireplaces are.”

“Porches are seen as a ‘big plus’ by buyers and I have had buyers specifically mentioning this to me at buyer consultations,” said Ziefert.

Ziefert noted that porches are “like an additional indoor/outdoor room — a place to relax, talk, leave a package or wet boots…. I sold a house in South Orange in January overlooking Flood’s Hill and my buyers say the porch is their favorite spot in the house.”

Maplewood resident and architect Rene Clawson can back Ziefert up. Clawson is a fan of porches — both personally and professionally.

Lunch on Rene Clawson's screened-in porch.

Lunch on Rene Clawson’s screened-in porch.

She said that one client did a deck three years ago, but recently realized that a porch was more desirable. “Now, they’ve got a television and a fireplace on their screened-in porch,” said Clawson. Other local porches sport built-in sound systems, mini-fridges and outdoor heaters.

“We did their house a long time ago and we wanted them to do a porch,” Clawson continued. “We told them they would fry. That’s my big thing about decks. It’s too hot and buggy or it’s raining or it’s windy.”

“A little bit of screening and a ceiling fan” goes a long way, said Clawson.

In fact, Clawson herself has a screened-in porch.

“From April to November, we’re out on the porch. We eat out there. The kids do their homework there. It’s a great place to have friends.”

Sherry Petrin and Jeff Gilligan's screened back porch.

Sherry Petrin and Jeff Gilligan’s screened back porch.

“I would say that people who have them, love them,” said Clawson. “I’m always pushing the porch. It extends your house.”

The porch is also a great benefit for parents of young children.

“When I moved in, my mom said, you’re gonna love this screened porch,” said Clawson. Clawson realized how great the porch was when her young children wanted to go outside but she was tied down with a baby.

Sherry Petrin of Maplewood agrees.

Petrin said that she and husband Jeff Gilligan “utilize our porch at least 10 months out of the year. With two children, three and under, it gives us the freedom to enjoy the outdoors with them rain or shine. ”

“The screened in porch was a huge selling point for us when buying our first home,” said Petrin.

Marcia Worth's "mini-porch" is attracting attention from neighbors.

Marcia Worth’s “mini-porch” is attracting attention from neighbors.

Petrin also praised the porch’s more grown-up aspects: “It’s a great place for morning coffee, dining alfresco with family and friends, or unwinding with a nice glass of wine after a long day.”

“Our beautiful screened-in porch is not only an extension of our home but and extension of our lifestyle. We love it!” said Petrin.

Village Green freelance writer Marcia Worth is another porch fan. Recently she had her front steps removed and replaced with a mini-porch with room for seating.

“It’s small, but pretty,” said Worth, who lives in South Orange. “And I think the Wall Street Journal is right. Three strangers have stopped by to ask who did the porch.”




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