Homebuyers often formulate their first impression of a property before they even walk through the front door. The aesthetic look of a home’s exterior can be very telling of what someone can expect to find on the inside. At the very least, the outside of your home will determine whether or not buyers want to take a look inside.
“The exterior of a house is the first thing a potential buyer experiences,” says Brinkoetter Realtors Owner and local expert, Tom Brinkoetter. “People buy-or don’t buy-as soon as they pull up to a home.”
So what does that mean for someone preparing to sell their house?
“Dollar for dollar, the best money you will spend preparing to sell your home is the money you spend on landscaping,” says Brinkoetter. “You don’t have to spend large amounts of money, and most landscaping projects are things you can do yourself.”
Here are a few KeySteps to making the most of your landscaping:
KeyStep 1: Plan ahead.
If a move doesn’t need to happen immediately, planning ahead is important as you consider how much and what type of landscaping you’d like to introduce. For example, if you’re thinking of moving next fall, then this spring is the time to be working on landscaping.
Start by cleaning up the yard, removing dead branches, weeds and anything broken. It’s important to investigate the unseen; ensuring the downspouts are clean and functional, and making sure drain pipes are properly buried and draining so water doesn’t pool. Then make sure your hard-scapes (things such as patios, walkways, and fences) are level and that roots haven’t pushed up sidewalks or patio stones.
KeyStep 2: Repair.
Does your deck have wobbly railings or loose steps? Fix them. Are there dead or dying shrubs on your property? Get rid of them. The stability of your outdoor fixtures, and the health of your plants, will win some trust with a potential buyer.
KeyStep 3: Choose your green wisely.
“Screening Plants,” such as trees and bamboo, can be used to hide anything unsightly, and provide canopy, shade, and insulation from sun. The point is to hide unflattering views and add value to the home.
Plants that are beautiful while in bloom will not add curb appeal out of season. Try to select plants that have longer seasons, and tend to be easier to care for.
(Though you may love the idea of an apple tree in your backyard, potential buyers may not want fruit or nut-bearing trees.)
KeyStep 4: Show your features some love.
Many homes include an outdoor seating area, deck, or patio. These features can positively impact an appraisal if they’re quality construction and well-maintained.
Furniture doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be in good condition. A good power-wash, fresh paint, and new seat cushions are an inexpensive way to dress things up.
KeyStep 5: Keep it simple.
“I tell all my clients: keep it clean and keep it simple,” says Brinkoetter. “Carve out a simple lawn area and mulch or rock the bed. Limit the number of plants, and simplify the design. You don’t want a potential buyer to feel intimidated by an overly-elaborate landscape design.”
Says Brinkoetter, “Think of it as a first date. Buyers come to view a house, ready to fall in love. A little bit of careful planning and work might just make the perfect first impression.”