Spring is around the corner, which means more buyers will be out hunting for a house or condominium. But in today’s market, sellers have to work harder to persuade them that their property is worth the bite. Here are 7 key strategies that will get them to give your house greater consideration:
1. Add splashes of color. With every changing season, a landscape should provide a new display of colors, textures, and fragrances. It’s best to use one or two and repeat them. Example: white iceberg roses that bloom in spring, summer, and fall as a backdrop; in front, a contrasting punch of purple salvia or lavender that will flower at the same time; and as an accent, a crape myrtle tree that provides changing leaf colors in fall and interesting branches come winter. If dollars need to be conserved, think perennials rather than annuals, which are less costly and return year after year.
2. Size trees and shrubs to scale. These should be planted in the right scale for the house, so that they don’t block windows, doors, and other architectural features on the home’s facade. A large two-story house can handle a redwood, Chinese pistache, sycamore, or scarlet oak, but a one-story cottage is better paired with a flowering cherry, crabapple, or eastern redbud. Too many trees cast too much shadow and cause potential buyers to worry about maintenance and costs.
3. Maintain a perfect lawn. A velvety green lawn demonstrates tender loving care, so be sure sellers’ homes don’t have brown spots. Some rocks, pebbles, boulders, drought-tolerant plants, and ornamental grasses will generate more kudos, especially in drought areas. But if lawn is too costly and anti-environment with concerns about conserving water, think about adding more hardscape—gravel and boulders, for instance.
4. Light up the outside. Good illumination allows buyers to see a home at night and adds drama. Sellers now can use LEDs to highlight branches of specimen trees, a front door, walk, and corners of the house, whose prices are coming down dramatically and last for decades. But always remember that less is better. The yard shouldn’t resemble an airport runway or shopping center. Good lighting also promotes safety.
5. Let them hear the water. The sound of water appeals to buyers, and you shouldn’t just reserve this for your backyard. A small fountain accented with rocks provides a pleasant gurgling sound, blocks street noise, and is affordable. Make it recirculate to conserve water.
6. Curve a walkway. Make the journey from the street or sidewalk to the front door more of an event by curving it rather than making it a straight shot. Use a material that works with the home’s façade and palette, though it doesn’t have to be the exact same—bricks, for instance, and it with plants or flowers in pleasing colors and an appealing fragrance.
7. Use decorative architectural elements. A new colorful mailbox, planted window boxes, freshly painted shutters, or a low fence wrapped in potato vines add cachet, particularly during winter months when fewer plants blossom. Colors should complement the landscape and home. Again, just don’t overdo it: Too much can seem like kitschy lawn ornaments. No inflatable snowmen in winter, for example; no flamingoes come summer.
Reprinted from REALTOR® Magazine with permission of the National Association of Realtors®, 2009,www.Realtor.org/