I recently had the opportunity to tour listings of other Realtors to provide feedback for the sellers. I was given a sheet of items to give scores to, such as Location, Interior, Exterior, Price, etc. Two other items I found particularly important were Curb Appeal and Landscaping.
Curb Appeal is that quality that attracts you to a home. And a seller has only one chance to make a first impression. While exterior “freshening” and maintenance are important, the quality of the landscaping and plantings are also a part of that first look at a home. While it is not the most important, curb appeal is what draws you further to look at the interior.
If my first impression is an overgrown, or overplanted yard, or that there are dead plants that have been overlooked, I may wonder about the level of upkeep for the interior of the house I’m considering. A seller needs to make sure that the exterior has the same careful appearance as the interior of the home.
In one of the homes I visited there was a permanent window box where once-living plants had succumbed to the Tucson desert heat, and the rest of the planter was bare. A little attention to this would have made a better impression. Just removing the dead plants and covering the soil with mulch would have made a difference.
Another home I visited was in a historical area with large, older trees and shrubs, and a lawn. The seller had turned off the water/irrigation system, and because of the Tucson heat, the plants suffered drought and were dying. Now, an older tree needs to be removed from the landscape. Also the older foundation plantings, while well-trimmed, are turning unsightly brown and need to be removed. And there was a dead vine clinging to an exterior wall that now needs to be removed, and the surface cleaned.
There are circumstances that while the view from the curb is not too inviting, some buyers can see beyond the existing situation and create a vision for a dressed up facade and yard. And while some yards do need help, they may not be the detractor from a sale. It all depends on what a buyer is looking for. But for a seller, attention to detail is important in making that first impression.
If I am a potential buyer, do I want to spend money on planting new shrubs or replacing old, overgrown shrubs? Am I a gardener with enthusiasm to do my own landscaping and planting, and digging up old, tired plants? Or do I want to move in with the satisfaction that my yard is “set” for low maintenance?
In an environment like Tucson’s it’s important to plant drough-tolerant and low-maintenance plants. Creating a xeriscaped yard is beneficial to save water and yard upkeep. If you have a drip irrigation system it needs to be on, even when you’ve moved out and the house is vacant. Unless a homebuyer likes to do the landscaping, the plantings should be in good condition until the property sells. Keeping yards simple is key in the Tucson area, and the Southwest in general. Here is list of plants sutiable for xeriscape in the Tucson area and information about xeriscape in general.
First impressions do count when it comes to finding that home that feels just right. What draws you to a house you could make a home?