Landscape tips for a faster home sale

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 competitive prices.
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 with vinegar.
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 snipped-for-privacy@landsteward.org and for resources and additional information, including archived columns, visit www.landsteward.org
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and for resources and additional information, including archived columns, visit www.landsteward.org
Sorry, but with the new federal regs, you're going to have to do a $50k upgrade just to make it energy efficient enough for the government to ALLOW you to sell it. The environmental phase re: water conservation, xeriscaping, and erosion control should only be about $25k.
Steve
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