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Real Estate: Curb Appeal

Updated on October 27, 2009

First Impressions

First impressions are strong impressions and in the case of real estate may make the difference between selling your home for the price you want or not.

It is also generally understood that landscaping can add value to your property so landscaping is a win-win project, not only do you improve your home's look and thus its curb appeal but you add value and when the real estate market is tight this can make all the difference.

Now lets take a look at the reverse of this, you are looking for a new home and have gone online and taken a look at what is on the market. You have made a few notes and based on the price, location and other information given, are going to at least drive by and take a look.

Curb Appeal

If you are a buyer bear in mind the power of first impressions and the role that curb appeal plays when going house hunting. Landscaping does add beauty but it can also be used to hide flaws; for example, shrubs planted close to the house may look great, if they have been taken care of, but what, if anything is they hiding? It can be difficult to see foundations that are covered.

Also, if the house you are considering has a large garden before you allow its beauty to close the deal, ask yourself, how much time do you actually spend gardening; how much time do you want to spend gardening and how much time do you have to spend gardening?

Last summer, an acquaintance of mine bought a new home; it was in an upscale neighbourhood and sat on about one-half an acre of property. The previous owner was a retired landscaper and had installed a garden that was beautiful but vast. She asked me to drop by one day, just after a heavy rainfall. Many of the taller plants had been knocked down and there was considerable tidying up to do; at that time she told me that the garden was more than she had bargained for and if they were going to keep it they would have to hire a gardener. She really was in a quandary, the garden was all around the house and even reducing it would be quite a job.

She admitted the garden was one of the reasons she had convinced her new husband to buy the place.

I offered a few suggestions but begged off taking on the job; too much work.


buyer or seller

If you are selling your home make sure the basics are covered, fresh paint, new door fixtures, clean windows, neat lawn and so on. If you have a gardens be sure that all the tidying up (deadheading, weeding for example) is done. Keep it neat and tidy.

If you do not have a garden, no problem as long as the grass is well kept you are fine. However, if you really want to boost your odds or at least give the potential buyer something to think about, there are a few simple things you can do. You could install a small annual garden.

I’d place it off center towards the path to the front door so that people see it as they approach and walk near by when they come in. A few fragrant plants, such as Nicotiana or flowering tobaccos (Nicotiana alata, sylvestris, suaveolens., will enhance the appeal. These are plants with tubular white flowers. They are fragrant mostly at night; 2-6 by 3 feet.

Another good choice is the four-o'clock (Mirabilis jalapa and M. longiflora) which have multicolored trumpet flowers that cover bushy 2-foot-high plants. M. longiflora has white flowers with orange-blossom scent.

You could add a shrub and I personally prefer this suggestion because the right choice can provide an attraction all year long, flowering crab-apple is one of my favourites as is red osier dogwood which has red bark that contrasts against the winter snow.

Whatever choices you make the effort will pay you back. Curb appeal makes a strong first impression.


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