South-facing is best? It’s a myth

Mutiny Festival brought over �2m to the local economy Picture: Paul Windsor

Mutiny Festival brings £2.7m into Portsmouth economy

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Q I have always believed that south-facing gardens are highly desirable and thus command premium prices – but is this actually true?

A I’m afraid not. Yes, there is a widespread perception that properties with south-facing gardens are somehow more desirable (and here I have to hold up my hand and admit that estate agents are partly responsible for helping to promote this idea).

However, the reality is that south-facing gardens are not intrinsically more desirable than any other kind – or at least, not to everyone. This was borne out recently when insurance firm Direct Line did some analysis of property prices and concluded that there is effectively no premium at all for homes with south-facing gardens. And when you think about it, this really shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, people’s tastes differ, and consequently all gardens have their perceived advantages and disadvantages, whichever way they face.

The main thing in favour of a southerly aspect is obviously the sun. But this doesn’t suit everybody. For many people, there is nothing more welcome in the summer heat than a nice, cool, north-facing garden. Pet-owners, for instance, often prefer them precisely because of the shade they offer. And in any case, if a north-facing garden is long enough, you can have the best of both worlds – shade closer to the house, and sun farther away.

Finally, while a north-facing conservatory can provide almost year-round enjoyment, a south-facing one may become unbearably hot for some people during the summer months. Of course, I am certainly not suggesting that there is anything wrong with south-facing gardens.

On the contrary, a great many people prefer them – not least since they provide the ideal environment for many glorious flowering plants and shrubs.

It’s simply that there is no real evidence to suggest that those people are in such an overwhelming majority as to affect property prices to any appreciable degree. As far as the orientation of a house is concerned, my own preference is for east-west. That way, you not only get all the benefit of the early morning sun, but the very best of those balmy summer evenings as well. But again, that is simply a matter of personal choice. Much more likely to be reflected in prices is the serious shortage of property on the market at the moment.

So, if you are thinking of selling, you could be in for a very pleasant surprise – whichever way your garden faces!