Sunday, June 1, 2008

Top 5 Landscape Projects to Decrease Market Sales Time

"A number of studies have concluded that an attractive, well-planned landscape can increase the value of a home from five to 20 percent. Also, the National Association of Realtors reports that almost 20 percent of buyers consider landscaping to be a "very important" factor in the decision to buy a house." - Jill Sell, May 14, 2008 The Cleveland Plain Dealer

In the current market any advantage a seller can gain by making their home stand out from the rest of the field can greatly impact the bottom line. When selling a home an important factor to a quick sale is making the house as marketable as possible. Sales is a numbers game... and attracting as many qualified home buyers is the first part of the equation.

Excellent curb appeal attracts buyers. While unexceptional, nondescript, and under maintained landscapes can actually repel prospects. The first impression from pictures or a drive by of the property may determine if the prospective buyer will schedule an appointment to see the house.

As a landscape service provider we are often called in to help a homeowner get their house ready to put on the market. Each situation we encounter is different. For some a simple spring clean up is the solution while other projects have included entire yard make overs to help get the house ready for market.

From our experience in working with both homeowners and Realtors, here is our top five landscape check list items to help sell your home more quickly.

Top 5 Landscape Projects to Decrease Market Time:

  • Get rid of clutter: remove piles of old fire wood, brick and rubbish from the yard and from behind the garage. Get rid of the old swing sets and play equipment if possible. Clean up the yard, which may mean a spring or seasonal clean up is in order to get rid of leaves, sticks and other landscape debris. Clean and neat allows prospective buyers to better imagine how they would use the space and communicates that you have maintained your space.

  • Basic Pruning: First remove dead, diseased and damaged plant material. Remove plants that don't look healthy or contribute to a clean and neat landscape. Prune plants so they clear pathways, walks and structures. Next, prune and trim overgrown plants that obstruct or obscure sight lines. Prune to reduce over sized or overgrown plants.

  • Define the space: Layout bed lines and install bed edges that create definition between the lawn and beds. Connect smaller beds with broad sweeping bed lines, eliminating little patches and awkward spots of grass. Clean out the beds of weeds and unnecessary plants. Create a clean look by mulching newly edged and weeded beds.

  • Green lawns: The appearance of your lawn and landscape is an indicator to prospective home buyers about how you have maintained your home. A lawn in poor condition reflects poorly on the home, so renovate the grass so it will look its best. This may include spraying for weeds, aerating, fertilizing, top-dressing, and over-seeding by slice or slit seeding. A lawn in poor condition can look much better within 60 days. A healthy lawn is more attractive and helps to set off the new bed lines you have just installed.

  • Add color: Add annual flowers for instant and lasting color that will make an impact. If the house is going on the market in the spring install bulbs the fall before. If the lead time doesn't allow for bulbs then plant pansies in the spring. Follow up with summer bedding annuals like begonias or petunias, both are relatively low maintenance. In the fall plants mums and/or pansies. Install annuals in containers by entry doors or on patios, install or make room in the front walk entry area for annual color.

Decreasing market time directly impacts the bottom line by reducing carrying costs (includes: finance cost, insurance, taxes, maintenance expenses, utilities, etc.).

Begin with the basics. We often see homeowners spending time and resources on polishing and accessorizing the landscape before focusing on basic cleaning and pruning. Following these steps in order will make the largest impact and provide the greatest value. Much of this work can be accomplished on your own, although hiring a professional may get the work done more efficiently, within a shortened time frame and may be more effective with access to equipment, materials and experienced labor. The work is not complicated, for the most part it requires focus, time and follow through.

Lastly, don't overlook the required maintenance for the landscape while the house is on the market. A one time clean up will look really good for several weeks, but without maintenance will begin to loose its impact. Plan to keep the yard in tip top shape for showings that can occur at any time.

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