Reader question: We are not selling our home anytime in the foreseeable future. We are wondering how much the value of our property will increase if we blacktop our gravel driveway?

Monty's answer: Blacktopping your driveway may or may not increase the value of your property. Because certain variables impact the desired outcome, it may be challenging to determine if the blacktop played a role even if your home sells for much more in years to come. Another consideration is that blacktop is mostly aesthetic and as such visual interpretations are subjective. 

Potential reasons to proceed

- Your home is the only one in the neighborhood with a gravel driveway. It might draw attention that would not otherwise be apparent if few or none of your neighbors had blacktop.

- The driveway is short. If the driveway is short, say 20 feet or 30 feet, the cost, while still significant, is likely a tiny percentage of the total value of your home.

- Your home is within a subdivision containing a variety of improvements. The higher the level of improvements such as curb and gutter, storm sewers, and street lights, the more out-of-place gravel appears.

Reasons not to proceed

- The price range of your home compared to the market as a whole. Older homes in the lower quartile of the housing stock may not benefit to the extent of homes in higher price ranges

- If your home has other condition issues, there may be other high-cost improvements that are more likely to provide a return. Some examples are exterior siding, a furnace and landscaping. 

- Country property is far more likely to have gravel driveways as the norm.

- If the driveway is 250-feet long, the more likely it is that you will not recover the entire cost.

Other considerations

Some buyers may not consider blacktop at all in the buying decision. For example, if the buyer is currently living in a home with a gravel driveway, they may not even notice the lack of blacktop.

Finally, no home, in any price range has an exact price it is worth. Every home has a range of value. Here is a link to an article that explains home valuation at https://dearmonty.com/determining-a-homes-value/. Would a blacktop drive bring you closer to the high end of the range of value? In many circumstances, that answer may be difficult to determine.

Richard Montgomery is the author of "House Money - An Insider’s Secrets to Saving Thousands When You Buy or Sell a Home." He is a real estate industry veteran who advocates industry reform and offers readers unbiased real estate advice. Find him at DearMonty.com.