Add Sex Appeal to Home’s Curb Appeal

by Chicago Agent

Landscaping can increase a home’s value in any market
By Kevin Marko

Everyone knows sprucing up the inside of a house can help it sell better. But suggesting your client add sex appeal to their home’s curb appeal by planting trees, shrubs and flowers could help it sell faster, and for a higher price.

Nationally, the average cost of landscaping one’s home is about 5 percent of its worth, but that investment can add as much as 14 percent back to the house’s total sales value. Good landscaping also can decrease the amount of time a house is on the market by as much as six weeks, according to national statistics.

As the housing market weakens, I say stand by your curb. If you like what you see, others likely will, too. If not, below are some tips for putting nature to work to improve the value of your client’s house.

Use natural screening. Tall arborvitae make great screens for privacy and can also shade areas or unsightly views. Or, your client can also use evergreens layered by shrubs or fences fronted with plantings.

Choose natural materials. A well-designed patio is one of the best ways to add to a house’s value. While the initial outlay may seem steep, double natural stone such as bluestone or flagstone costs less over time. In harsh winter climates, poured surfaces like concrete and mortared stone will crumble as time passes.

Plan for company. Patio sizes vary, but generally should be large enough, about 200 square feet, to hold a table that comfortably seats four to six. To encourage hosting family and friends, your client should consider increasing the patio to 500 square feet to entertain 10 or more guests. If the space has curves or level changes, your client might need to increase the size again. Retaining walls can also be great for additional seating.

Keep it realistic. At Chalet, we receive more requests to fill in pools than to build them, due to costly maintenance, liability and a shorter season. Consider what’s realistic in the area and how the landscape will likely be used. Better options may be pool-like hot tubs for swimming in place or socializing, or those with jets to simulate waves for health benefits and relaxation. In cooler climates, your client might consider outdoor fire “places” for evening enjoyment.

Look to the trees. Value increases when a new house is built on a lot with existing trees that provide shade on the south and west. Researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle, say a lot with trees alone adds 7 percent to a house’s price and 20 percent of buyers say they consider landscaping to be a very important factor in their decision to buy.

Place plants properly. The location where plants are placed in the landscape can lower utility costs. Shading an air conditioning unit can increase its efficiency by 10 percent. A well-placed shade tree reduces air conditioning use by 15 percent. Overall, properly placed and sited plants can lower utility costs by as much as 20 percent.

Remember maintenance. Keeping the landscape neat, trim and tidy is just as important when plants grow and fill in, as it is when they’re newly installed.

I always say the first impression is the most important. Neat, weed-free beds and lawns are the easiest ways to improve a home’s landscaping without great cost. Also, good maintenance, crisp edging, correct pruning and fresh mulch give instant impact. A color lift instantly improves curb appeal, especially at the entry, front walk and on patios.
Lastly, fill planters or flower beds with a combination with colorful perennials and annuals for head-turning curb appeal.

Chalet has been named the most innovative garden center in America for 2007 by Garden Center magazine. For information, call 847.256.0561 or visit ChaletNursery.com.

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