Home Improvements
Real Estate

Money does grow on trees, throughout landscaping

(3/8/2011) Spruce up your front yard before you sell your home and you can raise its perceived value by as much as 18 percent, according to a new study that applauds curb appeal.

Coming from the Husqvarna Group, a producer of outdoor power products, the study is self-serving, but other studies and real estate agents swear by the value of manicured landscaping.

Husqvarna calls it the "Garden Effect" and says the return on a landscaping investment for curb appeal returns a national average of $39,000 to the perceived value of the home.

"Americans have always understood the value of curb appeal, however it has often been categorized as a 'nice to do' not a 'need to do,' " said John Marchionda, vice president of marketing at Husqvarna.

"The Garden Effect changes the traditional view of what delivers the best return on investment for your home. The time spent managing the overall landscape; gardening, lawn maintenance and lawn care, proves to have a dramatic effect on a home's market value," Marchionda said.

That's because landscaping isn't just an eye opener. It's also a door opener and a sales closer.

Done right, it's the first impression your home conveys to prospective buyers and should create an emotional desire to own the home and enjoy the lifestyle it conveys.

Putting the best face on your home also should give a lasting impression that motivates buyers to cross the threshold and take that first step toward closing the deal.

Experts advise, more like a home improvement or exterior staging job than a cosmetic makeover, the landscaping component of curb appeal is particularly crucial now that more and more buyers are calling the shots.

Well-manicured landscaping should frame curb appeal. It should be neat, tidy, simple, healthy landscaping that's proportional to your home.

You should also know how your landscaping will appear once its matured.

From a practical sense, the plants and trees provide shade and passive cooling as they control erosion and pollution. They also provide privacy, especially if it's a single-level home adjacent to two-story houses.

For larger estates a backyard vineyard or maze of hedges can add some pizzazz to the property.

The Garden Effect stems from the "2011 Husqvarna Global Gardening Report," a survey of 5,000 home owners and real estate agents.

The report revealed:

• Neglect depresses prices. More than 70 percent of real estate agents believed a neglected garden lowers property prices by 5 percent to 15 percent. Another 17 percent said the impact could be worse.

• Investment shortfalls. While 60 percent of Americans consider their yard an investment, 65 percent spend less than $400 a year on their grounds.

• It's just work. So little is likely spent because only about half of home owners considered time and resources spent on their gardens as an investment, with 32 percent believing garden work is just a time-consuming hassle. Think again.

• Women get it. Half of American women are interested in landscaping compared to just one-third of American men.

• Grass is greener next door. Seventy-two percent of Americans admit they think someone in their neighborhood has a more attractive lawn.



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