About a month ago, I was interviewed for the Lowe’s for Pros website on landscaping ideas to improve the market value and salability of a home. Below is the text of the article and here is the link:
Issue Date: October 2009
For homeowners, curb appeal is critical for making a positive first impression on potential buyers. “They say statistically that 85 to 90 percent of the buying decision happens from the curb,” says Tony Meier, realtor at Windermere Real Estate in Redmond, Wa.
And since property value is a huge concern for many homeowners, landscaping contractors can suggest several options that will not only add value to their client’s home but save energy and money as well—making landscaping a worthy investment.
Cost-effective landscaping ideas
There are many landscaping options for the budget-conscious consumer that increase curb appeal and are easy to implement. “Neat and tidy are certainly key components,” Meier says. “Sometimes we’re trimming up shrubs, removing weeds in the beds and barking on top of those beds, planting flowers along the beds, cleaning up the lawns and applying edging.”
Whatever design options are used, Meier says it’s important landscaping additions never block vision of the house or front porch. “You want to expose the home, you want to have a feeling of openness just as you would with the interior.”
Understand local trends
Many cities in hot, arid climates offer programs subsidizing homeowners to use native plants and decrease their dependence on water, so drought-tolerant landscaping is a major trend contractors should discuss with their clients. In the Northwest, consumers are generally very conscious about not using chemicals in their landscaping. There are also considerations for areas dealing with winter weather. “If you can plant something seasonally that has some color that would be helpful,” he says. “I would suggest areas that have snow on the ground, maintaining that and trying to minimize [snow] during those seasons would be an important part of landscaping.”
Meier also stresses that most real estate trends are local, so contractors should focus on trends in their area to best increase a client’s property value.
Keep it simple
An overall trend that applies in all regions of the country is low-maintenance landscaping. Low maintenance options increase property value because people don’t want to deal with numerous problems right after moving in, Meier says. He also emphasizes to make sure basic aspects of landscaping look sharp before moving on to more complicated and expensive elements. “If you’re spending $2,000 on a rock wall and your grass looks like hell, you’re focusing on the wrong things,” he says. He adds that excessive hardscape, although visually pleasing, doesn’t always lead to material gains in property value.
Other cost effective ways to beautify yard space without adding costs involve replacing higher maintenance plants with native ones. For example, in most climates keeping a lawn green requires necessary maintenance and watering. But replacing lawns (or parts of the lawn) with native shrubs or ground covers can be inexpensive and help keep cost low.
Don’t forget the backyard
While the front of the home should be the priority, there are landscaping options for the back yard that can increase property value as well. “You don’t want your house to not be seen from the curb,” Meier says. “But if you can do things with plantings in your rear yard to increase your privacy with trees, that’s something that will help out with resale.”
Time is money
While Meier has seen properties sell for significantly more than the original asking price because of extraordinary landscaping, the real value of curb appeal is in the immediacy of the sale. “Some [landscaping] things that you do are not necessarily cost for cost, dollar for dollar value,” he says. “If you do this I can get this much more for your home. But if you do those things I can sell your home quicker, which in fact will mean more money to you as a seller.”