March 01, 2008
We all like easy answers, preferably with a short list. That’s why titles like “Five Easy Ways to Make Millions” seem to sell so well. With that in mind, let me provide a few very simple rules of thumb for staging your Silicon Valley home to sell in any real estate market. But let me warn you: I’m going to be painfully, brutally blunt.
The first rule for “staging your home to sell” is the topic of today’s post and it involves landscaping and curb appeal. The front of the house needs to look great. Seriously. If the front doesn’t look wonderful (or at least really good), the buyer will never go inside to see how great your home is. Especially now, when the majority of homes are not selling.
Here’s Mary Pope-Handy’s “Simple Rules for Landscaping to Sell Your Home”:
- Get rid of juniper. I’m not kidding. And ivy too, while you are at it. These two plants are hated by most buyers and tend to give them the sense of “if they’ve lived with that, what else have they lived with?” There are front yards which consist of nothing but ivy and juniper. Tear it out.
- Make sure the door(s) and windows are fully viewable and not at all obstructed from the street. This is dual purpose. First, it allows the buyer to see the home as uncrowded from the outside, and it lets a maximum of light get inside. If your bushes are growing over any part of the window, beat it back. I mean, trim it back. Mature landscaping is good. Overgrown is bad.
- Have a healthy lawn in front. Fresh sod is nice, but a nearly weed-free, inviting patch of green will do. (In ground sprinklers required. Timers and auto drip a plus to buyers.)
- Plant colorful flowers near the walk way and near the front door.
- If you have a porch, make it appealing with good furniture – but not overcrowded. Think uncluttered. If it’s a tiny porch, use tiny bistro-like furniture.
- Keep garden hoses rolled up and tidy, keep walkways clear of debris, keep all the living things healthy (unless you’ve got moss – get rid of that living thing!).
- Clean your windows, door, porch, exterior. A power washer is a good friend – it’ll help you clear cobwebs. Make sure the door opens easily and the hardware is clean.
- How’s your mailbox? If it’s tired, replace it. Ditto that for the front mat.
- When selling, make sure to keep your garage door closed (and that it operates properly). If the driveway, walkway or sidewalk is badly cracked or damaged, consider repairing or replacing it. This is particularly true if there is any tripping hazard. (Imagine a buyer getting hurt while viewing your property – you want to eliminate this possibility.)
That’s it for the exterior. Not too painful, was it? (Well, not if you didn’t start with a heavy load of juniper and ivy.) If you can make your front yard approachable and welcoming (no walls of ivy, no overgrowth), it will do wonders at beckoning people to see the inside of your home too.