When a buyer sees beautiful, well-planned landscaping the assumption is that the rest of the home is equally as spectacular, hence the power of landscaping!
Written By Glenn Simpson
The first impression a buyer gets from a home is from the landscaping. Before they ever see the home, their eyes are drawn to the lawn, trees, and gardens that frame the home. That first impression is priceless and should do two things:
• Shorten the time that the unit is on the market.
• Optimize the return on the investment in that unit.
When a buyer sees beautiful, well-planned landscaping and features such as a state of the art outdoor fireplace and high-end pavers, they develop an assumption that the rest of the home is equally as spectacular. Research has shown that the highest return on investment in preparing a home for sale is in the outdoor living spaces, especially landscaping. To properly understand the value of investing in outdoor spaces one must view it in two aspects. One is for the aesthetics of the home in its entirety and the second is a user-friendly outdoor
The homeowners of today desire to extend their living area and that is why they choose to create outdoor living spaces. Landscaping can be thought of as a room without a roof. When you think of it in those terms it is easy to understand why backyard renovations have a high return on investment. Most homeowners start yard projects without considering the potential impact they could have when they eventually sell the home. By proper planning they can not only enjoy their day to day use of a beautifully designed yard but get a handsome return on the dollars they spent when it is time to sell.
So, what is the best investment to improve appearance and return on those investments? One must remember that just planting vegetation because there is space is not the same as planting for current appearance and how the vegetation will flow when it matures. Many times, a little professional assistance in the early stages can yield a great benefit in the later stages of planting. Trees are one of the things that increase in value over time. Planting small trees is a better investment over time. A sapling from a local nursery for $20 can be planted on the property and when mature that same tree can add $1,000 to $10,000 to the value of the home. That is an outstanding return on investment. On the other hand, if the planning for sale horizon is projected for three to five years, then planting a larger tree would be the best course of action. There may be a greater expense, but the full effect on the yard can be realized much quicker.
Proper placements of shrubs help frame the rest of the garden and define certain areas and use. The mid-story* plants really bring the outdoor space together. They can add color, texture, and cover for certain support areas of the yard. They can lead you into a path or form a visual screen for the water management equipment needed for the garden. Shrubs harmonize the trees, flowers, and lawn creating that beautiful overall appearance.
Flower beds are a little more difficult to plan because many of the flowers that really make a landscape pop are annuals. By planting annuals beautiful spring flowers can add that splash of color that really sets off the entire yard. However, there is a downside. If a large part of the garden is planted in annuals that area will have to be replanted each year. This highlights the importance of good planning for combining perennials and annuals. Obtaining the pizazz that brings attention to the home and getting the best results from the investments is much less stressful when the gardening is not labor intensive.
The use of grasses is very important in developing the texture and dimension of the outdoor area. Although it is important to have a base layer which brings the spaces together, many times with lawn grasses, less is more. Lawn maintenance can be very intensive and expensive. The lawn’s purpose is to give the feeling of openness and define pathways. If too much of the yard is filled with grasses, it can give a stark appearance instead of having a desired, inviting warmth.
Although many neighborhoods require a pool to be competitive, adding a pool to an existing property can be a risky move. Studies have shown that when remodeling a home, for every dollar invested in an addition of a swimming pool, only 39 cents are returned when the home is sold. When considering a pool addition one must value their enjoyment and realize they will probably not be getting a great return on that part of their investment.
It is a struggle to quantify the exact return. Some claim as much as 150%. That seems a bit optimistic, but not out of the question. I owned one home that had been on the market for nine months. It appraised at $486,000 which was less than I needed for the home. So, I brought in a landscape planner who did a great professional job. The cost for his services of planning, planting and landscaping was about $6700. When the house went back on the market it sold in 2 weeks for $510,000. The increase in value was great, but the rapid sale was truly an added benefit. Many times improving the landscaping brings such an added return.
Real estate agents have found that home buyers are more excited about touring a house that looks inviting on the outside than one that is sad and dreary unless they were focused on buying a fixer-upper. Factors vary relating to the exact return on investment that may be realized. The consistent benefits of getting the client in the home with a positive impression will increase the value and rapid sale of any home.
Perhaps the best way to think of the landscaping is to equate it to staging for the outside of the property for the same desired result as staging the inside. Although, extensive landscaping could be negatively viewed by a potential buyer as a possibility for requiring excessive and costly maintenance.
Several minor changes can bring big benefits:
• Keeping the yard free of weeds entails some labor but it is easy, if done on a regular basis.
• The front door may need some potted plants to frame the setting and add a splash of color to the entrance.
• Planted areas benefit from mulching which gives a nice and well-kept appearance.
• Obviously, mowing is critical for that best first impression.
• Dry or wilted plants and grass may give the buyer the impression that the entire home might not be maintained.
Despite not being able to pin down an exact ROI from landscaping, the positive first impression of a home can mean the difference between a buyer just driving by or stopping to take a closer look. Just like the importance of making a good first impression when meeting someone new, with a little attention to the landscaping of your home, you can increase your chances of a better outcome when selling your home.
If changes are needed to best present the home, I suggest hiring a reputable designer for recommendations. Do not over plant but also, do not cut too many corners.
A nice home with a fresh appearance will sell quickly and at the best price possible.