The Type of Fence Real Estate Experts Wish You Wouldn’t Install

published Jun 7, 2022
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The type of fence you install on the perimeter of your property is about more than just enhanced curb appeal —  it’s about creating privacy and security. These are things that you no doubt value as a homeowner, and if you’re looking to sell your home in the near future, know that they will be high on homebuyers’ wish lists, too.

According to Home Advisor, it costs anywhere between $1 and $45 per linear foot to install a fence. That’s quite a budget range, which means that it’s not only the size of your property that factors into the price, but also the quality of the fencing materials you choose. Vinyl and composite fencing are on the pricier end, which might tempt you to opt for a cheaper type of fencing material. That could work, though there’s one type of fence experts agree it’s probably best to avoid.

“It is best to steer clear of installing a chain link fence,” says Jeff House, a strategic real estate advisor at Real Estate Bees, who has over 30 years of experience in real estate. “Aesthetically, a chain link fence is not something that is appealing or helps add value.” While it is functional, House says it’s better to install a wood or vinyl fence.

Lisa Mindus, another strategic real estate advisor at Real Estate Bees, agrees a chain link fence does serve a purpose, but it lacks privacy and aesthetic appeal.

“Plastic slats can be purchased and secured to a chain link fence for added privacy, but it will add to the cost per square foot and still appear inferior to wood, vinyl, or wrought iron in the eyes of the consumer,” Mindus says. “The materials used for a fence should reflect the style of the home.”

If you’ve already got a perfectly fine chain link fence, take heart. House recommends giving your fence a fresh coat of paint in black, white, or another neutral color to enhance the appearance. “Adding a color instantly makes the fence look more finished,” he says. This is good news if you are looking to sell your home in the near future and can’t bear the thought of pouring any more money into it for improvements.

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What to Consider When Choosing a New Fence

“There are many fence types, so be mindful to select a fence type that is harmonious with the rest of the home and property,” says Eugene Colberg, principal of Colberg Architecture. He notes wood is a common choice because it’s an easily accessible material. If that’s the route you take, Colberg advises to choose a wood that is water resistant and can stand up to rot. 

He notes that there are drawbacks to wooden fences, and they might not be allowed where you live. “Keep in mind wood is a combustible material — and there might be local regulations around using a combustible material, especially near open fires, outdoor kitchens, or grills,” Colberg says. If this is the case where you live, he recommends a synthetic or composite wood like Trex, which is long-lasting, though it is pricier.

In general, Colberg subscribes to the Robert Frost philosophy of fencing: “Good fences make good neighbors.” 

“First and foremost, know the property line,” says Colberg. He advises property owners to do their due diligence in finding out where their neighbor’s property ends and where theirs begins. Aside from that information, Colberg says you must also follow local codes and zoning requirements, including any HOA regulations, if you happen to live in a development. 

“When it comes to installing a fence, homeowners need to know what they want to get out of it,” Colberg says. If it’s privacy, Colberg says to take into account the size and how solid the materials are. He notes, however, that not all private fences have to feel like you’re surrounded by a wall — there are options that leave plenty of air for circulation, especially if you’ve got a small yard or a terrace. Security fences, on the other hand, do need to be solid and hefty enough so that there are no gaps to allow for unlawful entry. 

Then again, if you want a fence just to mark your property lines — which is common in more rural areas or suburbs with large plots of land — you don’t need the security of a tall fence, says Colberg. In fact, for home owners with small properties, a low fence in front might be enough of a deterrent. “Sometimes you simply don’t want people to hang out on your stoop,” he says.