Lot and Landscaping

You could own the most opulent palace ever to grace the eyes of a mortal, but if this palace looks like a rundown shack outside, no one will ever come in.

Many people will put their houses up for sale without considering the importance of grooming the lot and tending to the landscaping and this is a major mistake. Nothing turns off a potential buyer like an overgrown lawn full of weeds in which a broken down jalopy is slowly decomposing.

As the old adage goes, nothing is quite as poignant as a first impression. First impressions are often superficial so truly they do not give someone a good idea of what's on the inside. That said, people will rarely approach others who are unkempt and disheveled to find out what sort of people they are on the inside and similarly most people will be scared of a house that looks awful on the outside, as nice as it may be on the inside. So regardless of whether it's what's on the inside that counts, nobody will make it to the inside if they are repulsed by what's on the outside.

In terms of resale value, a home's lot and landscape are obviously very important. The lot and landscape contribute heavily to a home's curb appeal, meaning they will either attract or repel people instantly as they pull up to the home or gaze at it from across the street. Curb appeal refers to how a home looks from a distance.

There are certain factors that will always improve a home's curb appeal and therefore contribute to its resale value. Most of these things are inexpensive factors to address, but they play a significant part in whether or not a home will resonate in the mind of a potential buyer.

Factors that Contribute to Curb Appeal:

- Condition of the house�s exterior whether it has brickwork, paint or vinyl siding

- Condition of painted accents like overhangs and windowsills.

- Condition of front porch or deck

- Condition of flower bed and lawn

- Condition of the front door

- Any added touches that add character to the outside of the home without making it look gaudy

If a house has peeling paint, a sagging deck, a flower bed that looks like it has weathered the apocalypse and a front door with bullet holes in it, chances are it will be on the market for a good couple of decades, but even a home in this sort of horrible shape can have resale value if the lot and landscape are taken care of. This can be both cheap and easy to do with the investment of a little bit of time.

Tips to Improve Curb Appeal:

- Sand any areas where paint is peeling and apply a fresh coat

- Repaint the front door or replace it if it's warped or damaged

- Fill the garden with fresh flowers

- Put down a layer of sod if existing grass is on its last legs

- Remove all weeds from lawn and garden

- Add some potted plants to front porch or steps

- Shutters should be freshly painted and hung up straight

- Any steps that lead up to the house should be sturdy and in good condition

- Junk should be removed entirely

It is often a good idea to consider extra touches to improve your home's curb appeal. Things like a new mailbox or new hardware on the door can really make a difference in the way the entire house looks.

After a potential buyer has been enticed into a house they will want to know specifics. A key specific when it comes to buying a home is the lot. Size is important, as it is with most things, but shape is also an important consideration. An oddly shaped, or oddly situated lot will significantly decrease the resale value of a piece of real estate, as will a lot that is uneven. The ideal lot is flat and rectangular.

A home that has resale value not only has a flat, rectangular lot, it also has a good location. A residential neighborhood that will yield homes with high resale value will contain houses that are similar in size, style and construction. The homes should be similar, but not exactly the same. There is nothing worse than a neighborhood stuffed full of cookie-cutter constructions.

A home with good resale value will have a lot that is located close to the center of the neighborhood, instead of on the edges. The ideal lot will be enclosed in a neighborhood, not backing onto a busy street.

It's also important to invest in a home that is not located directly beside apartment or condominium complexes, businesses, schools, hydro fields or parks. Keeping away from condominium and apartment complexes will improve the scenery around the lot while steering clear of businesses and schools will cut down on noise. Hydro fields and parks can often harbor unsavory characters so for safety purposes most buyers will stay away from lots located directly beside these areas.

Purchasing a home with resale value also usually means staying away from corner lots. Many people think that corner lots are great because often they are larger, but what they gain in space, they usually lose in privacy. Corner lots often have more traffic in front of them because they are located at the junction of two streets so they can be noisier and less private.

Along with the structure and location of the lot, the size of a home's front and back yard will also contribute resale value. Many homes in the city have little or no yard space so homes that do possess this quality will almost always be worth more. In the suburbs there is more land to play with so even though almost all homes have front and back yards the more space there is the more options a homebuyer has in terms of adding extra amenities, like a hot tub or pool. These added amenities will serve to further increase a home's resale value.

If you are buying, or have bought a home that has a good-sized lot and spacious front and backyards but the landscaping looks like it hasn't been tended to since the early 1900's you will need develop a landscape plan to improve your home's appearance and eventual resale value.

You don't need to hire a gardening expert to develop a landscaping plan, you just need to follow a few simple steps, keeping in mind that your end result should be beautiful, but not too overpowering- you still want your home to blend in with the rest of the neighborhood.

Planning your Landscape

Step #1 � Develop a plot plan:

- Get out some drafting paper, measure your yard and try to put your landscaping ideas on paper. This process will make it easier for you to visualize where everything will go and it will also give you insight into the items you will need to get the job done properly.

Step #2 � Conduct a site analysis:

- Search out the best soil and locate rocky terrain. Think about which areas will have shade and which will be sunniest. Be sure to assess how your yard drains so you don't end up flooding your freshly planted flowers.

Step #3 � Ensure proper access:

- When you plan the landscape of your yard it is essential to consider how people will navigate it. An overcrowded landscape will look like an impenetrable jungle and this won't do anything for your home's resale value. If potential buyers can't see the house because of the trees your home loses all curb appeal. Stagger your garden so large plants are in the back, and smaller ones in the front. Also, try to plan out paths so that the garden can be easily explored from a variety of directions.

Step #4 � Assess family concerns:

- If you are landscaping to improve your home's resale value you will need to keep in mind potential buyers as you do so. Don't crowd the front and backyard will so many plants that there is no room left for children to play.

Step #5 � Take patio furniture into consideration:

- Most new homeowners will want to take advantage of their home's front and backyard as much as possible so when you are landscaping to improve resale value be sure to leave room for outdoor reclining chairs in both the shady and sunny parts of the yard. It can often be a good idea to lay down some patio stone in a backyard to provide a space for an outdoor dining table and chairs. Some people who have revamped their house's landscape will buy patio furniture to have in place when potential buyers come round to view the house. This will allow potential buyers to develop appreciation for the landscape and it will also allow them to visualize the hours of enjoyment their family will eventually have in the home's front and backyards.

Step #6 � Plant Selection

- Plant selection is always the fun part of landscape design, but if you are merely planting to improve resale value you may just want to opt for the least expensive plants that you can find sold in bulk. If you really want to draw attention to your home's landscape choose flowers in an array of colors. Big, bold roses and peonies are always a great idea. Keep in mind the fragrant floral varieties. Pungent petals will lure potential buyers straight in your door. You might also want to consider planting a herb and vegetable garden, this can be cheap and easy and potential buyers will revel at the idea of picking their own food straight from their own garden.

As you develop your home's landscape be sure not to get too carried away. You should be taking the property from barren to tasteful, not trying to win the gardener of the year award. Always keep in mind that resale value is about attracting buyers, not scaring them away. Potential buyers who see homes with high-maintenance gardens might be put off by the amount of work that is necessary to maintain such a landscape, especially in the city where many people hardly have time to eat, never mind garden.

Some realtors will tell their clients not to invest in a home that has been over-landscaped because they believe nice a landscape will drive a house's price up significantly. Keep this in mind. You want to draw buyers in without making them believe they are only buying the house for its beautiful lawn and garden.

An easy way of understanding the importance of lots and landscaping to the resale value of a home is to think of realty like fishing. The lot and landscape acts as the delicious bait that is dangled in front of the potential buyer. For each different species of buyer, and each different neighborhood you may need a different sort of bait. The bait should be enough to attract attention without drawing unnecessary attention to itself (i.e. garden gnome). Once the buyer notices and takes the bait they can easily be reeled into the home, not to be eaten, but to fully appreciate all of the home's unique characteristics and unmatched charm.