Summer is a hot time for home sales. If you’re considering selling your home, you may want to think about sprucing up more than just the inside of your home.
“A home buyer’s enthusiasm for a house starts at the curb,” said Michelle Wieck, realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Ambassador Real Estate. “I encourage (home owners) to think about the outside of their home as the cover of a book. Will buyers want to open the book?”
Jay Miralles with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate added, “It is an indication of pride of ownership. If you drive down the street, the ones that stand out are the ones that are well-maintained.”
Curb appeal encompasses, “everything that leads up to the house,” Wieck said. From trees and landscaping to sidewalks, walkways and the driveway, to porches, patios and decks.
According to a study by the USDA Forest Service, healthy, mature trees add an average of 10% to a property’s value. They’re not just pretty, they’re functional, removing carbon dioxide and pollution from the air. Properly planted trees can shade homes during the summer and act as wind breaks during the winter, reducing energy costs overall.
“Depending on the price and range of the house, trees & landscaping can bring a significant rate of return,” Miralles said, “if done correctly.”
Wieck hasn’t seen landscaping make an impact on home price more than on the marketability of a home.
“Overgrown trees, trees planted too close to driveways/walkways, neglected flowerbeds or branches hanging over the house or near power lines may not seem like a big deal, but they scream ‘maintenance headaches’ for potential buyers,” Wieck said.
Perception is stronger than reality. The typical home buyer tends to inflate in their mind the anticipated cost of any home repair, she said.
“This translates into a lower offer price for the home, or a lack of offers altogether, especially when the condition of the home is not in line with the average condition of other homes in the area, or when there are a number of other homes for sale.”
When advising her clients on the placement of landscaping, trees, sheds, fences or swimming pools, Wieck said she always recommends contacting a landscape professional. “There are many local companies that have expertise in this area who can see future obstacles or issues and could potentially save them a lot of time, money and stress.”
“When planting trees,” Miralles said, “you need to plan carefully. Not only do you want them to have enough room for them to grow and flourish, you want to ensure they’re planted away from power lines, above and below ground.”
Those who plan to dig to plant landscaping should call Nebraska 811 to make sure to locate any buried utility lines, first.
For those looking to re-vamp their homes before putting them on the market, both real estate professionals warn, don’t spend more than you will recoup unless there is a safety issue or other fix needed to ensure the buyers secure financing.
“When it comes to the outside of the house, simple upgrades like a fresh coat of paint on the front door, a potted plant on the porch or a bright welcome mat may be enough to give the house a fresh look,” Wieck said.
“There are many things that can be done with a smart budget and some elbow grease,” Miralles said. “Start with the basics, like keeping the lawn trimmed, spending a few extra minutes to edge it all the way around. And, make sure to keep it watered and free of weeds. A clean, green lawn is the fastest and most inexpensive way to boost the appeal of your home.”
The outside should appear “clean and low maintenance,” Wieck said. This includes well-trimmed trees and shrubs, clean windows and clear gutters.
She said it helps to view your home through a potential buyer’s eyes.
“What draws your attention first? Is it the adorable door hanger and matching baskets on the front porch, or is it the chipping paint on the garage door and broken upstairs window?”
Most buyers will order a home inspection, which will draw attention to issues like clogged gutters or trees that are growing too close to power lines.”
“It’s better to handle these smaller maintenance projects before an inspector comes in with a large punch list.”
Always seek a professional to trim back trees near power lines, as that work can be dangerous. Call OPPD at 402-536-4131 if you have any questions.
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