If you are hoping to sell your house during these challenging economic
times, remember the old saying: you never get a second chance to make
a first impression.
When it comes to real estate, that’s always been true. But in a tough
economy, there are more houses than usual on the market and fewer
buyers. Those buyers that are out there are almost spoiled for choice:
a large number of available homes, probably offered at fairly
To make matters worse, slow home sales mean that houses that might
have been snapped up quite quickly a couple of years ago and
languishing on the market much longer now. If you’ve decided to sell
your home, take a look around your neighborhood. You will probably
notice quite a number of For Sale signs in the front yards. These
homes all share the same basic benefits as yours, such as the same
school district, proximity to the same transportation or commuter
drive times. They might even have been built by the same builder in a
very similar style to yours.
Frankly, you’ve got a lot of competition.
Potential buyers will drive around neighborhoods that interest them.
They will glance at a home with a yard sign for perhaps 3 to 5 seconds
before moving on. Unless they see a reason to linger. In those few
seconds, they have formed opinions as to whether the home meets their
personal definition of ‘attractive.’
Is it neat and well-kept? Is the lawn lush and nicely trimmed? Are the
shrubs neatly shaped and not obscuring the windows? Is the walkway
clean and weed-free? Is the entryway welcoming? Could we live there
without having to invest in landscape upgrades? Most of all, they are
deciding if this home could provide them with pride of ownership.
Would we feel proud to have friends and family visit us here?
And all this in about 3 to 5 seconds… before they pass by your home
without ever looking inside and move on down the street!
But there IS good news. You can make your home stand out from the
crowd and you don’t have to spend a fortune to do it.
First of all, go out and look at your home from the street, they way a
prospective buyer would see it.
If shrubs have grown to the point where they are obscuring the front
of the house, trim them back. If necessary, remove them altogether and
replace them with fresh, attractive evergreen shrubs, such as Boxwood
Winter Gem, Euonymus Manhattan with its colorful fruit or the dense
rounded Red Barberry.
Add some annuals to put splashes of bright color in front of the
shrubs. Pick up a few bags of dark mulch and carefully layer it around
the shrubs and annuals. The contrast will make the colors pop!
How about the lawn? Keep it mowed (no shorter than three inches) and
watered (about once or twice a week) so it looks green and lush.
Edging the lawn, where it meets the flower beds, is worthwhile as it
projects the impression that this house has been well cared for, so
the inside should be as neat as the exterior.
Look at the entryway and front porch. Place a couple of containers
there and add some economical plants. Pick containers that match the
scale of your porch, neither too small and insignificant nor too large
and overpowering. Plant some perennials such as geraniums, daylilies
and varieties of Achillea including Summer Berries and Moonshine. Add
a few annuals for instant color.
Look down at the walkway. Keep it swept and clean. If weeds are
growing up through the pavers pull them out or kill them by spraying
Of course, you’ll want to be sure that the area is free of toys,
bicycles and any items that distract the eye.
If you feel that some of these tasks are beyond your capabilities,
such as mulching and lawn edging, call in a local landscaping service.
A one-time service would not be too expensive and would be seen as a
real investment when your home sells.
Remember, all you can really do is “put the odds in your favor” by
giving your home a slight edge in the eyes of prospective buyers.
If you’re still stumped for ideas, go to my Web site, www.landsteward.org
and click on the Slide Show link to see lots of ways to spruce up your
home for a faster sale.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs
and landscaping to email@example.com and for resources and
additional information, including archived columns, visit www.landsteward.org