Sprucing up your yard, from just adding a few attractive plants to doing a complete landscaping overhaul, can have a big effect on the look and feel of your home’s outdoor space. When it comes to the bottom line, though, determining how much value your landscaping adds to your home is a little more tricky.
In direct return on your investment, landscaping may not always add as much value to your home as you put into it. Considering these three elements can help you decide what’s best for your project or home sale. Then, you can figure out what will give you the most bang for your buck.
1) Curb appeal of landscaping
The first thing that any potential buyer is going to see is how the landscaping of your house looks. As with many things in life, first impressions can make all the difference. Even if landscaping doesn’t raise the asking price by a ton, there’s inherent value in a better first impression. It can lead to more offers more quickly, potentially avoiding the need to settle for a lower offer, or keeping your home on the market for months.
“The buyer will either walk up to the door and feel one of two ways: ‘Whew this yard will need work,’ and start the negative view of the home before they even enter the home, or they will walk up, see a clean, well-maintained yard, not think twice about the work needed and walk through the door with a positive view,” says Jessica Buffington, CEO of FrontDoor.
In today’s digital age, this can have an even bigger impact as many buyers check listings online and won’t consider a house that doesn’t have great photos associated with it. That first impression may happen before a potential buyer even drives by.
2) Consider the neighborhood before landscaping
Understanding the types of incomes and buyers that will be looking at your house can help you decide what landscaping projects are worth the cost. It’s as much about the added maintenance costs to keep the lawn in top shape as it is the increase in the sticker price.
“Do they have the money to maintain? Would they prefer a new roof be put on for the money you spend on landscaping?,” says Brian Ausberger of Rehab Financial Group, LP. “Is your buyer potentially someone who physically can’t maintain the property, like a senior citizen? Is it a wealthy neighborhood whose occupants would simply pay a landscaping company to maintain it? These are some of the question desperate for answers when considering whether or not to landscape a property before selling.”
It’s also important to compare your landscaping to that of your neighbors. Standing out without being over-the-top can also help get your house off the market more quickly. This may involve tidying things up just a little bit if your landscaping is already some of the best on the block.
However, if the neighbors are outshining you in the landscaping department, you’ll want to make a few simple improvements. This can help your home feel on par with the rest of the neighborhood and make it seem less like a fixer-upper project.
3) How long will buyers be looking to stay?
One often overlooked factor in landscaping renovations is whether buyers are looking at the home as a short-term purchase or a place to put down roots for over five years. This difference can change what the buyer is looking for in a potential home.
“For short term landscape investments, we are seeing good returns on underground sprinkler systems, fresh foundation plantings with mulch and seasonal color,” says Jason Fawcett of Elizabeth River Landscape Management. “I see great short-term returns that attract the ‘wow’ or ‘now’ clients that we want paying top dollar for our homes.”
Conversely, if you’re adding things like a pool or a significant outdoor entertaining space, it may deter buyers who just want a starter home, which would limit the market to only long-term buyers. Fawcett adds that these are rarely the high-return-on-investment landscaping items that many sellers hope they will be.
Your steps to landscaping your home to sell
Start by determining what the biggest areas of concern are, and what would be glaring holes for a potential buyer. Determine improvements that could be made to that space, and run those suggestions by your real estate agent to get their opinion on what value that might add in your market.
Keep in mind the type of buyer that you’re hoping to attract, and don’t invest in projects that won’t fit their budget. Remember that small improvements can go a long way in helping your home add curb appeal and sell quickly.