Tranforming The Ugly Bank Owned Home: Back Back Yard Before and After 
In real estate, sometimes you have to kiss a toad to find the real beauty!  
Don't be afraid to try your hand at remodeling and design, especially with real estate!  Express yourself, show off your ideas, be creative...chances are you'll be rewarded with immediate equity.
In an earlier article I showed my kitchen, before and after, on an inexpensive budget.  The same frugile budgeting took place on the planning and design for the back yard space.  Below is BEFORE we undertook our yard transformation.
Fortunately, both of us are very handy and familiar with power tools, so we immediately saved thousands of dollars on labor costs by building, and designing, the wood pergola ourselves.  Here is the AFTER picture showing the same space.
The tumbled stone wall and kitchen was designed by us, but we hired someone to do the work since neither of us have the skill to do quality paver and stone work.  The wood table was designed and built by us, too...all lumber was special order solid cedar from Southern Pines Lumber, rough cut, and absolutely beautiful.  The stain is a 3 step process with a product called Sikkens.  Below is a picture of me working on the finishing details.
The yard needed many loads of crushed concrete to elevate the lot from the somewhat steep drop in grade.  The posts are 8 x 8 solid cedar buried in two feet of concrete and rebar.
Including the patio furniture, wood, pavers, grill, fridge, paver labor, trees and all other supplies, we spent a small chunk of money on this back yard transformation, even when doing most work ourselves.   A recent appraisal estimated this outdoor living room, kitchen and dining room space at $34,000...and it only cost us 1/3 that amount.
I am always happy to help clients, or anyone, on how to transform bank owned/REO's properties on a tight budget!