New invention replaces restrictive railings that steal value by blocking grand vistas.
Real Estate Owners Reclaim Incredible
Views to Increase the Value of Properties
A thief haunts many of the finest real estate properties in North America. The intruder doesn’t carry a gun or threaten bodily harm. But quietly, without regard for the cost of owning upscale property, the thief steals the very thing that makes so many private and commercial settings unique – a great view.
The thief is, of course, the top guard railing on decks and patios that overlook valleys, mountain ranges or magnificent bodies of water. While standing and enjoying the view, the top rail is not a factor. But as soon as a prospective buyer or homeowner sits in a deck chair, invariably the view is ruined because often the railing is set at eye level. It’s like living in a cage. Even a cage with ornate or gold bars is still a cage.
Although the position of rail guards may seem like a mere inconvenience, for an industry that lives and dies by the motto location, location, location, a blocked view can become a critical financial factor when making a deal.
Steve Wright, owner of a real estate firm in Kelowna, British Columbia, says buyers are willing to up the ante if the property includes a great view. Although the offer will depend on the property, the view might raise the price anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000. “It will depend on the value of the home. It’s very subjective. But views are very important. People are always asking for a view. You want to maximize on that.”
Wright’s business turf includes the Okanagan Valley, where mountain ranges and the Kalamalka Lake provide some of the finest vistas in British Columbia. He knows he can count on the view to impress prospective buyers. The trouble lurks in the top guard railings.
“You have a grand entrance. The home includes hardwood floors, a stainless steel appliance package and granite counter tops. You need those things. The view starts to evolve as you proceed to the deck and the response is, ‘wow.’ Then you sit down with the client…and they’re peeking around railings.”
Reclaiming the View
The obvious solution to this dilemma is reclaiming the view. But once again, finance plays an important role when considering remedial work on a property. In short, the homeowner wants to know that whatever money is put into the property can be realized on the sale.
Since Wright lives where he works, he understands all too well the nuisance upscale property owners endure when living with obstructed views. For his own home, Wright decided to take action when a colleague mentioned a topless glass system. The new invention by manufacturer Falcon Railings eliminated the need for a top and bottom rail. Also, installation was not complicated or cost prohibitive. Wright immediately liked what he saw.
“I wouldn’t put anything on my home deck but this. I think if you’ve got a property with a view, you’ve got to have it.”
The product can adapt to any deck shape and is unique for vertical posts that include a rotating gasket. The design of the channels in this system allows all the posts to accommodate various angles. Also, the system was engineered to meet or exceed all building codes and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
Laurie Jones, an associate broker with Wright’s firm, was also a victim of top-rail view theft. “Where I was living had a lake view. But when you sat down, the railing would hit your eye. It ruined the view. When you have glass tops it makes all the difference in the world. I think it is a brilliant invention.”
Jones has since sold her home. But the experience of living with an accessible view gave her perspective. Certainly resale of any property is an important factor to consider before making a bid. Yet real estate investors should not discount the intangible value of enjoying the beatific view while living in the home. “The value is enjoying the view while you own the house.”
Crunching the numbers
Although property values in the United States began to fall significantly in 2007, the Canadian real estate market didn’t top until April 2008. Since homeowners north and south of the boarder now face tough economic conditions, when selling they must do everything possible to make their property the best on the block. Reclaiming a view is one way to achieve this.
“You’ve got to be the best home on the block at the best price to get shown and sold. If House A is nice and has the same appliance package and so forth as House B, but House B has an unobstructed view, guess which house will sell first,” says Wright.
Jones, who has been in the real estate industry for 30 years, agrees. “It’s absolutely a selling point. It’s a perk once you get into a higher value home. People expect to have these kinds of things.”
Both Jones and Wright believe that homeowners who invest in a rail-less guard system are likely to recoup the cost when selling – depending on the value of the home. “If you’re talking about spending an extra grand on the right railing will you get your five grand back? Absolutely. That’s totally recoverable. It’s the ‘wow’ factor,” says Wright, referring to the unobstructed view the railings will reclaim.
Although Wright and Jones believe a clear view is essential for homes that range in the million dollar plus category, as the trend to reclaim views expands in the Okanagan Valley, he has seen more condominiums use the topless glass system. The price range of these homes is $300,000 to $400,000. “It’s like the new standard.”
Falcon Railing Chairman Mark Whittle believes his product is fulfilling a need that goes beyond priceless visitas. Many decks are now being designed with poured concrete that incorporate shapes and structures that avoid straight lines and right angles. In these situations, aluminum railing systems often fail aesthetically, which is a problem for golf courses and wineries that invite large public gatherings. Topless glass, on the other hand, easily flows with the curve of the deck.
“Homeowners and businesses need an alternative. If you have the conventional railings on these new designs, you have all these steps, turns and straight lines going all over the place. And that’s only after you’re able to estimate and actually custom build those corners. Now you don’t have to have that bulky, straight rail all over the place.”
For more information contac:t
Falcon Railing Mfg.
747 Fitzpatrick Road
Kelowna, BC. Canada
Phone (250) 765-2248
Fax (250) 765-2414
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Douglas Glenn Clark is a writer based in the Los Angeles area.