Rooftop Retreats

Does your listing have a rooftop terrace? If so, it can be a gem in attracting buyers.

March 1, 2010

A rooftop retreat can be a sought-after feature among buyers looking for a condominium or single-family home. Whether it's a new townhome in Des Moines, Iowa or an old rowhouse in Milwaukee's historic district that's been rehabbed to include a rooftop aerie, a terrace on top of a residence can be a very marketable element. It can be touted as another “living room” and the perfect getaway without leaving home.

The best way to sell a property with breathtaking rooftop views is to promote it via high-end photography or a virtual tour.

"A rooftop deck offers a wonderfully different perspective of your town than the average backyard does," says real estate pro Tim Hoferer of Monarch Beach, Calif. "This type of exposure will create a very favorable separation from neighboring homes." Two homes with comparable square footage and views will likely stay on the market for about the same amount of time. A rooftop deck, while not known to noticeably affect home value (especially in today's high-end home market), is far more likely to decrease a home's market time than a home without one, Hoferer says.

The Possibilities

While rooftop terraces are popular, many home owners don’t know much about them. One thing to keep in mind is that not all rooftop terraces are equal. Some are spacious enough for huge parties; others are barely bigger than a bathroom. Some have pools; others have Jacuzzis.

High-end terraces have wireless Internet, restrooms, outdoor kitchens, heat lamps, and a fireplace.

In condominiums, a rooftop terrace might make a perfect place for a dog run. It can also be the perfect spot to plant a garden or create an inviting courtyard.

The outdoor space can be transformed in multiple ways to provide a personal oasis to complement a home.

What Buyers Should Look For

Potential buyers will want to examine the terrace carefully. They should look into the structural integrity, safety features (guard rails and door locks), and drainage and access. Additionally, they might want to seek out enclosed stairways, which will keep rain and snow out.

Condominium buyers will want to know how many people are allowed use the facility at any one time. What's the protocol for grilling? How well does the condo association maintain the outdoor furniture?

In any case, don't overlook the roof as a selling point to a property. A rooftop terrace might be that one extra feature that makes the home the buyer's perfect haven.

freelance writer

Mary Beth Klatt is a freelance writer with a passion for architecture and home design.


Residential Styles & Structural Elements

Art Deco

The 1925 Paris Exhibition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs launched the Art Deco style, which echoed the Machine Age with geometric decorative...