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Will They Dig It? How to Keep Your Oh-So-Perfect Landscaping From Scaring Off Buyers

September 11, 2019

ANGHI/iStock; realtor.com

For many buyers, a beautifully landscaped yard with show-stopping curb appeal can seal the deal. After all, who doesn’t want cascading blooms, immaculately trimmed shrubbery, and a carpet of emerald sod with their new home?

Surprise: As it turns out, there are indeed some buyers who might take one look at your sprawling outdoor oasis and think, “It will take a ton of work to maintain all of this!”

“I see many home buyers looking for yards that don’t require a lot of maintenance,” says Monica Kemp, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage and accredited real estate staging professional in Leesburg, VA. “It can be generational—a lot of younger, first-time buyers don’t want to be home all day gardening or dealing with the lawn.”

Your garden should feel inviting and relaxing, not overwhelming, says Andrea Duane, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in the El Dorado Hills, CA, area.

“A beautiful garden is more of a benefit to sellers than a deterrent, but there’s definitely a percentage of buyers in the marketplace that don’t feel comfortable with that amount of landscaping,” Duane says. “It may feel daunting because they’ve never owned a home before or they just don’t have a green thumb.”

So if you’re selling a property with lots of lovingly tended flower beds and veggie gardens, how do you leverage your landscape—and not scare people off? Here’s how to reassure buyers that your yard will bring enjoyment, not exhaustion.

Declutter your yard

Be sure your outdoor space is sending the right message to buyers, Kemp says. You want your yard to say, “Sit down, have a cold beverage and relax,” rather than, “Please weed me.”

So stage the outside areas as you would the inside of your home: Declutter so that the essential elements can shine.

“Make sure trees and shrubs are trimmed, whether you hire a professional or do it yourself,” Kemp says. “Remove anything that’s dead or dying or doesn’t give you a positive first impression.”

Divide overgrown plants, so your garden looks neat instead of needing attention. And lose the whimsical gnome statues, tacky lawn ornaments, and noisy wind chimes in your garden that won’t let buyers imagine themselves in that space.

Hide the high-maintenance plants—and pack in the perennials

Perennials
Daffodils and tulips are perennials.

kdow/iStock

If you have rare heirloom roses or other specialty plants requiring extensive pampering, you might want to scale back before you put your house on the market, Kemp says.

Dig up rare or hard-to-care-for plants, and put them in pots to take with you. Be sure to exclude these on the listing, so buyers know they are not part of the sale.

But you don’t have to strip everything bare! Gardens consisting of perennial plants that grow back year after year can be a huge selling point, says Kemp, who points out such flowers and shrubs during house tours. Annuals, on the other hand, often are more vibrant and colorful but last only one year. A savvy buyer could see annuals as high-maintenance feature.

“Annuals can really make your house look nice, but I wouldn’t do an entire yardful—maybe just along your walkways, with some planters on your front stoop, or by the slider doors on your back deck, just for pops of color,” Kemp says.

Rethink your pond or water features

Water features
Think twice about the impression your water features are making on buyers.

Tim Abramowitz/iStock

Water features make gorgeous focal points and help create a resortlike environment in your own backyard. But beware: Your koi pond might deter buyers.

“Personally, I think fish ponds are really cool, but I would never describe it as a selling feature because people tend to see them as added maintenance,” Kemp says. “What if the pump fails? How am I going to keep those fish alive in the winter? They might have little kids, so there’s a safety concern.”

Duane agrees that ponds are often deal breakers if a buyer doesn’t know how to take care of it.

“One option is fill in the pond,” she suggests. “I did that in my own yard, even though I love ponds and fish; it just wasn’t something I needed or wanted.”

Not keen on filling in your pond? Kemp suggests compiling some helpful care and maintenance tips for potential buyers, along with names of service companies.

Get rid of some grass

Just as a massive swath of flower beds can alarm buyers, so too can a large expanse of lawn, Duane says.

“People might be thinking, ‘That’s a lot of mowing, and that needs a lot of water,’” she says.

Plus, allergy-suffering buyers will probably not appreciate all of the pollen that grass releases in early spring. Instead, pop in a row or circle of boxwood shrubs, which can add texture and interest and need very little maintenance beyond occasional trimming.

Be proactive with tips for buyers

Maybe you do have lush landscaping—but perhaps you’ve also figured out an efficient way to take care of it. If so, point this out to buyers. For example, noting that the large flower bed consists of easy-care plants and an in-ground irrigation system tells buyers that they won’t have much to do—and ends up being a perk.

And get ahead of any kind of hesitation by telling buyers what they’re in for: Draw up a garden plan so buyers can see the plant varieties that blossom at different times of the year, Kemp says. Make sure to include names of flowers and any seasonal care tips that have worked for you.

The post Will They Dig It? How to Keep Your Oh-So-Perfect Landscaping From Scaring Off Buyers appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

‘The Best Home-Selling Advice I’ve Heard, Ever’

April 24, 2019

LightFieldStudios/iStock; realtor.com

Selling a house can be a big job, and stressful too! There’s so much to think about regarding the market, home staging, repairs, and more—it’s no surprise sellers find it so overwhelming.

So in the interests of winnowing it all down to the true essentials—the tasks that can make a real difference—we asked home sellers to reveal only the very best home-selling advice they have heard. From when to put your house on the market to how to price and present your place just right, here are some top home-selling tips for the bandwidth-challenged that are truly worth the trouble.

Pony up money on repairs

“When it came to selling my house, the best advice I ever got was to get repairs done before buyers start poking around. Every house is going to have at least a few things wrong with it, and since you’ll probably have to do them anyway before you close, you might as well do those little fixes upfront so that buyers can see your house at its best.

“My last house was a pretty new build and I hadn’t had many problems with it, so I didn’t think there would be much to fix up when it came time to sell. Still, I knew that if buyers saw a bunch of small problems, they wouldn’t be wowed by the house, or pay my full asking price. So, I ended up walking around my place and sticking Post-it notes to things I thought I might need to fix. I looked for loose door handles, leaky sinks, hard-to-open windows, and things like that.

“I ended up making a bunch of little improvements, and while it took a bit of time and cost a few hundred bucks to fix everything up, my work paid off and I sold the house at asking.” – Dustin McCaffree, Salt Lake City, UT

Spend your reno dollars wisely

“In my last house, we wanted to change the color of the fence in the backyard, but we knew we were moving soon and backyard fences don’t sell houses. We knew that money would be better spent on something buyers really care about, like the kitchen.

“So, before putting my house on the market, I took the money I would have used on the back fence and painted my kitchen cabinets. Installed in the 1960s, my old, shiny oak cabinets dated the house, so I painted them gray because it was trendy to have gray cabinets at the time. It cost me under a thousand bucks to do it, but the people who ended up buying the house told us they chose it in part because they loved the color of the cabinets and how modern they made the kitchen look. They didn’t even mention the backyard or the fence. I’m glad I put my money where it would count!” – Liz Mullens, Brea, CA

Don’t price your house too high

“While certain listing agents might claim they can list and sell your house for a higher-than-market value price, they’re usually just trying to get your business, so don’t be fooled. In fact, you might be better off listing your house just under what you might expect.

“Our real estate agent in Las Vegas wanted to list our house at a modest price that was obtainable and not off-putting. We had interest in a few hours, and multiple bids within days. From there, we were able to choose the best offer from many within a week. Taking this agent’s advice to price modestly ultimately ended up fetching us a much higher price than we’d even dreamed we could get.” – Matt Romero, Las Vegas, NV

Spring is not always the best time to sell

“People will tell you to sell in the spring because the weather is usually pleasant and the flowers are probably blooming, making the yard look warm and pretty. However, not everyone’s house will show best in spring.

“The last house we lived in, in fact, wasn’t great during the warmer months. It was small and stuffy, so when it was hot outside, it was extra-hot inside. Plus, we didn’t have much of a front yard and very few plants. We were afraid buyers would think our house was dark compared to the lush, green gardens they saw on other home tours.

“So, we decided to sell in winter. Our living room was small, but when we decorated for the season (like putting blankets on the couch and lighting a fire), the house warmed up and seemed more like a romantic cabin than a small two-bedroom. Plus, during Christmas our whole neighborhood really got into decorating their homes with lights. It was beautiful to see all the houses lit up, and we knew some buyers might really value that, too. In the end, it worked out and we ended up selling our house at a great price.” – Bill Ford, Irvine, CA

Photos sell houses

“The best advice I heard was to hire the right real estate photographer so you have great pictures for online listings. Unfortunately, I ignored this advice at first. I’m sort of a DIY kind of guy, and I was thinking that hiring someone would be a waste of money. Why couldn’t we just take them ourselves?

“So, I took it upon myself to snap some pictures on my phone … and immediately realized that I was not at all qualified to do this. Our house was bright and open, but looked so dark and small in my pictures. I knew we had to hire someone.

“So my wife and I got a list of recommended photographers from our real estate agent and started narrowing down our choices. We ended up picking one photographer and were completely happy with her work—her stuff was a hundred times better than anything I could have taken on my phone. We knew that those pictures really helped drum up interest from buyers.” – Jesse Edmunds, La Habra, CA

Curb appeal and bathrooms are 80%

“Before I sold my house, I remember my parents telling me to focus my energy on making the front yard and the bathrooms look their best.

“They told me to hire a gardener before I started showing the house because they said lots of people make home-buying decisions based, at least in part, on the front yard or garden. I found that this is completely true: When I was going on tours myself, looking for my current home, I started to notice that I would often make my decision about a house before even stepping through the front door. So I ended up hiring a gardener, putting more plants in, and was pleasantly surprised with how good the front of the house looked.

“With the yard looking great, I tried to fix up the bathrooms as much as I could, too. I didn’t have a big budget for this, but I ended up going on Pinterest and watching some HGTV to get some inspiration. I ended up getting the master bathroom shower retiled, repainting the guest bath, and adding some stylish wall hangings and towels to both of them.

“I was really happy with how both my yard and the bathrooms turned out—and apparently so was my buyer!” – Jennifer Davis, St. Louis, MO

The post ‘The Best Home-Selling Advice I’ve Heard, Ever’ appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.