Here’s an example of a home with attractive holiday curb appeal. Lighted trees flank the front door, a lit wreath hangs on the chimney, and a lit shrub on the left side balances the trees by the door.
I came home and looked at the photo on my computer’s large screen. I noticed a surprise element in the photo. (Click on the photo to enlarge it.) Can you find it? Does it put a smile on your face? Happy holidays!
Folks selling their home have a lot on their mind. Prices, agents, open houses, etc. In the midst of all this, it’s easy to overlook some simple steps that can improve the curb appeal of your home. Some steps are pretty obvious such as painting or cleaning the exterior of the house, or replacing the front door.
The point of this article, however, is to focus on the landscape improvements that you can make. There are a lot of little things that when added together can give you a healthy return on your investment. The American Nursery and Landscape Association’s research has shown that landscape improvements can increase a home’s value by 7 to 15 percent and that a well-designed landscape can raise the selling price by almost 7 percent.
The best place to start is to look at your house as if you’re visiting it for the first time. Look for problems or issues and note what you saw and why it bothered you. We asked Lisa Ciofani Basham, a Certified Professional Home Stager in NE Ohio, if the impressions formed as a potential buyer walks to the front door for the first time are important. “Absolutely. The walk to the front door is where opinions are formed. Look at your home through the eyes of a buyer and take a critical look at your homes outside as you walk to the front door. It’s that first impression that is so important.”
Look at your lawn first. Is it tired looking and full of weeds? Renovating a lawn is one of the items that you can do and realize a good return on investment. Keep the lawn cut to the proper height for the season and make sure that the sidewalks and driveway are edged.
Look at the shrubs around the foundation. Are they neat and compact or overgrown? Trimming the shrubs and trees is an easy task.
Speaking of trees and shrubs, there is an old proverb that says-“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today.” If selling your home is three or more years down the road, planting shrubs and perennials sooner rather than later will help them get settled in and blooming. Have any branches that overhang the roof trimmed back.
Make sure that the landscape beds are weed free and have fresh mulch on them. Fresh mulch will make the plants stand out.
Containers such as urns, hanging baskets, and large pots can be a versatile way to add spots of color to your home. These can be purchased relatively inexpensively. Hanging baskets will do fine as a planter if you remove the hook. If necessary, place the basket inside another, more decorative, container. You don’t even need to get your hands dirty!
Seasonal annuals add an instant pop of color. Pansies in the spring, petunias and zinnias in the summer, or asters and mums in the fall give the house a lived in, cared for appearance. Add a wreath with seasonal flowers or colors to the front door for a special touch.
Adding landscape lights are another inexpensive way to spruce-up the exterior of the house. These are fairly inexpensive and easy for the home owner to install, especially if you get the solar variety.
Another landscaping design issue that is often overlooked is how the landscape vistas are framed in the major windows of the house. Home owners spend a lot of time looking at the outside from the inside. Think of your windows as a canvas and plant a lovely view.
All things considered, a well maintained landscape shows the potential buyer that the house is well cared for; more than an overgrown, unkempt one. You don’t want to overdo it, though. Stay main-stream in your landscape choices. While you may enjoy a large rose garden, a dozen or so roses or a water feature might scream “high maintenance” to a potential buyer.
Neal Klabunde and his wife Catherine live in North Eastern Ohio and are avid gardeners. They are the owners of Gardening at the Crossroads, a gardening website that covers all aspects of gardening and is geared towards gardeners of all skill levels.
Barbara Corcoran is the real estate contributor to NBC’s Today Show. She operated a multi-billion dollar real estate business in New York City for many years. This video was made in 2007 and much of what she says is still valid today in our current marketplace.
Staging Tips Summary:
The first impression of your home is from the curb. Spruce up your exterior: landscaping, doors, mailbox, hardware, paint, etc. Use three colors for the exterior of your home: one color for the walls, a second color for the trim and a third color for your front door. This provides depth and interest to the exterior.
Buyers form an impression upon entering the home. What do they see? Too much stuff or just enough? Or perhaps too little stuff that leaves the room feeling cold and uninviting? I’ve had buyers look at the living room and kitchen and decide they don’t need to see the rest of the house.
People respond positively to natural light. Open or remove curtains, trim hedges, use light paint colors on walls if need be. Light sells homes. During fall and winter when it gets dark earlier, make sure you use the brightest possible wattage in your fixtures and that all the bulbs work. Use multiple light sources if possible, especially in bedrooms (ceiling fixtures and lamps).
The kitchen is the most important room in a house. Barbara says there’s no reason to make major improvements because you’ll never get the money back. I think this depends on the house, the kitchen and other factors such as desirability of neighborhood and how the rest of the house stacks up. Clearing counters of too much stuff works here just as it does throughout the rest of the house. A fresh coat of paint on the cabinets might be a good thing depending on your cabinets and the condition of the rest of your kitchen.
The bathroom can be the second most important room. Both the kitchen and bath tend to be big expense items when it comes to remodeling. A clean and uncluttered bath is, in most cases, all that is needed for selling.
Bedrooms should look peaceful and clean. New bedding might be in order to freshen the space. This can be an inexpensive update and you can take the bedding to your new place.
Yes, buyers look in your linen closet. A clean and organized linen closet goes a long way. It’s worth the time spent on it.
Barbara says to stop smoking. This might be something a smoker can do (smoke outdoors) but if the smoke has permeated the walls and furnishings, more will need to be done. Most sellers aren’t likely to remove pets. The best bet is to keep your house clean and to open the windows (weather permitting). I personally do not care for air fresheners and potpourri. These create an artificial smell and make me wonder what smell the owner is trying to mask. A clean house is best and does not smell. When it comes to air quality, no odor is best.
The arrangement of your furniture can make your spaces more or less appealing. This is best addressed on a house by house basis rather than here in this post. I work with my sellers to create inviting rooms using the furnishings they already have. This works most of the time.
When in doubt, think these three things for your home: Neutral, clean, and classic.
Do you have more questions about staging or preparing your home for the market? Feel free to give me a call for a consultation.
Lakes Area Realty
Garage sales are both opportunities to make money and to find a bargain and/or a bibelot. A bibelot is defined as “a small object of curiosity, beauty, or rarity”. Here is one of my garage sale bibelot finds: .
. The color and glazing on this small tray is really beautiful. There is a French name stamped on the backside, leading me to believe its first home was Paris, France. Perhaps there was a hotel named Astor at one time in the “City of Light” and this tray formerly resided there.
Many Parisians live in charming yet modest apartments with small spaces and few closets. They often don’t have room for a lot of stuff and pare down to the essentials and a few bibelots and antiques. Still, if a person finds a treasure at a garage sale, flea market, or antique shop, he or she will likely find room for it.
Here’s another example of someone else’s cast-off that became one of my finds. I treasure these “coins” for their Feng Shui symbolism, detailing and colors. .
Here in America we have plenty of big homes and lots of stuff. Garage sales can be a great way to get rid of clutter — and earn a little extra cash — anytime but especially before you sell your home. Getting rid of clutter is one part of staging a home. Just make sure the timing is right.
Conducting a garage sale takes a lot of time and energy. These sales can take on a life of their own, and it might not be the best use of your energy right before putting your home on the market. If you’re planning a garage sale at your home, on your block or in your neighborhood, use these tips for a successful sale:
1. Don’t wait until the last minute. You don’t want to be scrambling to hold a garage sale the week before an open house. Depending on how long you’ve lived in the home and how much stuff you have to sell, planning a garage sale can demand a lot of time and energy.
2. Get a permit. Most municipalities will require you to obtain a special permit or license in order to hold a garage sale. The permits are often free or very inexpensive, but still require you to register with the city.
3. See if neighbors want to join in. You can turn your garage sale into a block-wide event and lure more shoppers if you team up with neighbors. However, a permit may be necessary for each home owner, even if it’s a group event.
4. Schedule the sale. Sales on Saturdays and Sundays will generate the most traffic, especially if the weather cooperates. Start the sale early, 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. is best, and be prepared for early birds.
5. Advertise. Place an ad in free classified papers and Web sites, and in your local newspapers. Include the dates, time, and address. Let the public know if certain types of items will be sold, such as baby clothes, furniture, or weightlifting equipment. On the day of the sale, balloons and signs with prominent arrows will help to grab the attention of passersby.
6. Price your goods. Lay out everything that you plan to sell, and attach prices with removable stickers. Remember, garage sales are supposed to be bargains, so try to be objective as you set prices. Assign simple prices to your goods: 50 cents, 3 for $1, $5, $10, etc.
7. If it’s really junk, don’t sell it. Decide what’s worth selling and what’s not. If it’s really garbage, then throw it away. Broken appliances, for example, should be tossed. (Know where a nearby electrical outlet is, in case a customer wants to make sure something works.)
8. Check for mistakes. Make sure that items you want to keep don’t accidentally end up in the garage sale pile.
9. Create an organized display. Lay out your items by category, and display neatly so customers don’t have to dig through boxes.
10. Stock up on bags and newspapers. People who buy many small items will appreciate a bag to carry their goods. Newspapers are handy for wrapping fragile items.
11. Manage your money. Make a trip to the bank to get ample change for your cash box. Throughout the sale, keep a close eye on your cash; never leave the cash box unattended. It’s smart to have one person who manages the money throughout the day, keeping a tally of what was purchased and for how much. Keep a calculator nearby.
12. Prepare for your home sale. Donate the remaining stuff or sell it to a resale shop. Now that all of your clutter is cleared out, it’s time to focus on preparing your house for a successful sale!
Bonus Tip: Consider having a refreshment available for your visitors. If you have children, they could set up their own money-making enterprise with a lemonade stand. People enjoying a cool drink are more likely to linger at your sale and find things they might otherwise have overlooked. Here’s a post on how to make your own fresh lemonade: