We probably don’t have to tell you that the West Michigan housing market is hot right now. Actually, hot might be underselling it. In many price ranges, it’s downright scorching.
However, it’d be a mistake to think that landscaping and curb appeal don’t matter to prospective home buyers. Investing a little bit of time and money to make your home exterior and yard look appealing can return big dividends when it’s time to sell.
In fact, a hyper-competitive market can actually make landscape quality more valuable for a seller, not less—especially in neighborhoods where the houses themselves are fairly similar in size and amenities. All else being equal, a house with a yard that looks good is going to generate more interested buyers, sell faster, and get a higher price than one that doesn’t.
So How Much Does Landscaping Really Matter?
It’s basic psychology, really. Good looks and first impressions matter—even when we don’t realize it.
True, when a typical home shopper sits down and draws up their list of needs and wants, “beautiful landscaping” might not be near the top of the list. It might not even be on the list at all—at least not consciously. You tell yourself instead that you’re mainly concerned with a certain square footage, or number of bedrooms, or an updated kitchen, or an open floor plan.
But once you’ve controlled for those kinds of factors, good landscaping consistently proves to be more valuable than most people realize.
Surveys have shown that curb appeal alone can raise the perceived value of a home to a potential buyer by 10 percent of more. And any real estate agent will tell you that home shoppers are more excited to schedule a showing at a home that looks awesome from the outside than one that has a more basic or dreary appearance. Buyers are more motivated to take a look, and more motivated to increase their opening offer to avoid losing out.
Tips and Strategies to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal
So clearly you want your home’s landscaping to look great. That’s a given.
That leaves the obvious question—what should you do to improve it? How are you going to get the best return on your investment?
Maintain a Nice Lawn
So, we’re going to go into some more advanced tips and techniques in a minute. But first, let’s start with the basics.
At the absolute minimum, you want your yard to look clean and well maintained. If you do nothing else, at the very least, you should make sure your yard looks healthy and cared for—not ragged and overgrown.
In other words, that means:
Mow and edge your lawn regularly
Keep any bushes and trees trimmed
Pick up and remove sticks and other stray debris
Keep your yard free of weeds and invasive plants
Water your lawn regularly and eliminate patchy, dry, and discolored spots
Simply sticking the basics won’t exactly turn heads. But buyers probably won’t hold it against you, either. It demonstrates a certain pride of ownership.
And on a subconscious level, it can increase a homebuyer’s trust in you and your home—if they see you care about your yard and take good care of it, they’re more likely to trust you’ve taken good care of the inside, too.
If you’re having trouble keeping up with your lawn maintenance—or you just would rather have someone else do it—this is definitely something we can help you with. Our lawn maintenance services can handle your mowing, pruning, aeration, dethatching, and debris cleanup needs.
Add Some Natural Beauty (that Complements Your Home)
A nice variety of plant life around the front foundation of your home (and sides and rear as well, if you wish) is the logical next step once you’ve got the basic lawn care and maintenance covered.
Most buyers tend to prefer arrangements that feature a nice mix of different elements. It shouldn’t look random, of course, but a little complexity is appreciated. Some evergreens, perennial and annuals in different colors, maybe some stone or box planters in different shapes and locations to vary the height a bit. You get the idea. If you’re looking to make a quick sale, adding some colorful annuals is probably the easiest, cheapest, and quickest way to boost your basic curb appeal.
One or two well-placed trees are also very attractive to most home buyers—provided they’re healthy, of course. If your trees are dead or dying, though? Major red flag that can hurt your resale value. It’s wise to get your existing trees checked, so that dead ones can be removed and healthy ones can be fertilized, trimmed, and pruned. You may also consider carefully planting a new tree in an optimal location.
There’s one more big issue to consider here.
Anytime you decide to upgrade your landscaping, you need to make sure your plants should complement the architecture of your home and the landscape contours of your property. You also need to make sure that the plants you do select will be ones that thrive with the lighting, drainage, and soil conditions you place them in.
If you don’t know the first thing about any of this, give us a call. We’re pros when it comes to selecting and designing natural elements that are not only beautiful, but optimized for their environment.
What About Man-Made Elements?
Outdoor living and relaxing spaces, such as patios and decks, are highly valued by many prospective homebuyers. A convenient place to sit in the shade, enjoy the breeze, read a book, or fire up the grill is a major asset.
Now, having said that, if you’re looking to flip your house right away—or even within the next year or so—putting in a brand-new patio or deck is probably not going to be cost effective. However, properly maintaining or upgrading your existing spaces is highly recommended. That means repairing cracks in wood and stone and adding a fresh coat of stain or paint to the deck. Adding lighting to your deck or patio is also solid investment.
So is adding some life back into a boring cement patio or pathway with a cement overlay. This is something we do for many of our customers—we use stamping, staining, engraving, and stenciling to change the color, texture, and pattern of your patio without having to tear up or re-pour your concrete.
Of course, if you aren’t planning on selling for several years yet, go ahead and build. You might not get your entire investment back in terms of the home value, but you’ll also get several years of enjoyment out of your outdoor living spaces.
Don’t Go Overboard
A plain lawn isn’t going to be of much interest to many home buyers. But there’s a risk in going too far in the other direction, too.
Up to a certain extent, adding visual interest and landscaping complexity to your yard will make your home more and more attractive to the general buying public. Using a variety of colors, heights, and arrangements or plants can really make your property pop.
But extensive natural landscaping can also scare away potential buyers, too. If it looks like your landscape will be very time-consuming and expensive to maintain, buyers who aren’t particularly interested in gardening might be intimidated or put off.
Same goes for patios and decks (or for that matter, pools) that dominate most of the backyard—some people might love it, but many buyers might be more interested in having the extra space for kids to run and play. Or they might have their own big dreams about how to use the space—and a personal style or taste that happens to conflict with yours.
Of course, if you really enjoy gardening or complicated and extensive landscapes, we’d never want to discourage you from pursuing them! It’s your house, after all—you should enjoy it!
From a home value perspective, however, one should always keep in mind whether a specific alteration or “improvement” is likely to make the home appealing to more potential buyers, or fewer potential buyers.
If you’re looking for tasteful, functional improvements (or even just some professional maintenance and TLC) for your landscaping—ones that will add to your enjoyment of your home and increase its resale value—give the team at Bosch’s Landscape and Lawn Specialties a call. We’d love to give you a free estimate! Dial (616) 399-6861, or request an estimate online.