It’s common knowledge that when trying to sell, most people put at least a little money into some improvements or repairs before putting a house up on the market. When you’re working with limited funds, exactly how and where to spend that money to make sure you get the biggest bang for your buck can be puzzling.
If you ask any real estate professional for advice on this, there’s no doubt they’d recommend you spend at least a little money trying to improve your property curb or drive-by appeal. It goes without saying that better-looking homes attract more buyers and tend to sell faster than ugly ones. It also goes without saying that nothing screams curb appeal like a well-kept lawn.
According to Lawn and Landscape Magazine, a well maintained and landscaped lawn can increase the value of a property between 5 and 25% when compared to other homes in the area. When most people think of landscaping, images of bulldozers and hardhats come to mind. In actuality, there are a few easy ways that some simple landscaping can improve the curb appeal and value of your home:
Adding Native Plants. Adding native flowers or plants to your yard can do a lot to improve the curb appeal of your home, and being native to the area will help them thrive with little to no maintenance. Michigan State University estimates that well maintained local plants and landscaping can improve the value of your home by up to 11%.
Planting Trees. Trees can do a lot for a house: they provide shade in the summer or break wind in the winter, and they can absorb a lot of storm-water runoff. Windbreaking and shade trees can reduce air conditioning needs by up to 75% and winter heating bills by up to 15%. Adding a native tree to a barren yard, especially one that will be able to shade a deck or patio in the summer, can do quite a bit to improve some back-yard appeal.
Outdoor Lighting. Outdoor lighting tops the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)’s list of most desirable outdoor features every year. Beyond just making your home look better at night, there are numerous benefits to adding walk-way or garden lights along your property- they can protect against slips and falls and helps deter burglaries- because of this, some insurance companies even offer discounts to properties with outdoor lighting.
Walkways. Walkways help welcome guests to your door, and keep them from smushing through wet grass when it’s raining. More importantly, however, adding something like a simple stepping-stone path can do wonders for improving curb appeal, and at the low cost of around $10-$17 per foot. Leaving some grass in between stone spacing is another way to help save a few bucks.
So…do I need a professional?
Depending on the house and yard, professional landscaping may or may not be worth it. Adding plants, lights, or walkways are all easy DIY tasks- but When it comes to hiring a professional, the biggest determining factor is usually the topography.
If you’re one who appreciates retaining walls and terracing in your garden, or your yard has some unappealing hills or drops (especially near the foundation of the home, which could make the property more susceptible to flooding over time) in it, you may want to consider a professional landscaper. They come equipped with more tools than just a ride-on mower to fix up your lawn, and know how to smooth out or properly slope a difficult yard so there won’t be any problems with erosion down the road.
Jonathan Montgomery Founder and President of the The Real Estate Appraisal Group. He has been a real estate professional since 1998. He’s been a broker, and investor, and now serves as an appraiser. He currently works as an appraiser, doing real estate appraisals in Washington D.C., Southern Maryland, and Northern Virginia.