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March 8, 2017

Yard Work Returns Dividends

By Mark Hite

President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®

Spring has sprung early and since curb appeal is key in residential real estate, it’s time to get to work on the yard.

A good first impression means everything. Prospective buyers are looking at both the appeal and how hard it may be to keep up once they are the owners. A neglected or overgrown landscape may give the impression that it’s more work than a novice can handle. Thus, buyers rule the home out of consideration.

Curb appeal actually starts at the “curb.” Consider pressure washing and edging the sidewalks and driveway. And if it’s been a while since you painted the mailbox, and post, it may be time to give them a fresh coat and make sure the house numbers are crisp.

Now on to the grass. Is it healthy and free of weeds? Outside upkeep, including the grass sets the buyer’s expectation for how well-maintained the interior may be. If you’re re not paying attention to the lawn, are you neglecting interior items, too? Regardless, consider whether it’s time to over seed and build a thicker lawn.

After evaluating the lawn, move on to the shrubs and trees. Are they appropriately trimmed and shaped? If some pruning is needed, keep in mind that trimming significantly overgrown shrubs may expose unsightly bare spots. If this the case, consider trimming early so they have time to fill in before placing your home on the market. Alternatively, consider replacing them versus trimming them back. Also, a new layer of mulch always refreshes a home, so apply this, too, before placing on the market even if you’re lawn and landscaping is in good shape already. Not listing until the Fall or even next year? It still may be time to address these issues now and gives plants – new or trimmed – time to mature.

While you still have the pressure washer out, consider the exterior cleanliness of the home itself. A clean house is a prettier house – pressure washing will go a long way to renew a home’s appeal. Gutters often need the most attention, particularly if they are clogged and overflowing. During pressure washing, some paint may flake off. If so, them you may need to apply a coat of paint to get maximum impact.

Lastly, take an objective look at your front door – the last first impression a buyer will have before stepping inside. Replacing a front door always gave a positive return on investment, and this proved to be true even during the worst of the last recession. Perhaps you need a new coat of paint, new hardware or even a new storm door to give an immediate return on investment.

The details start in the front yard. Consider these tips to help you demand top price today’s market.


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