Niki Ottosen

HOMEFINDER: Tidy grounds make a good first impression

Do it yourself or spend a little to clean up unruly yard

Green, freshly cut grass, healthy plants or flowers and generally tidy grounds go a long way when it comes to selling your home.

Says Victoria Real Estate Board president Tim Ayres, typically not one to trot out clichés, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

The state of a home’s outside property is literally the first thing people notice when they arrive for a showing or a drive-by viewing.

“You can probably get a pass on your landscaping in the winter, but once spring and summer come, everybody notices. It’s a big deal to have a nice-looking property,” Ayres says.

In terms of bang for the buck, spending $200 to $300 on bark mulch and potted plants can be one of the best investments a home seller can make to spruce up their lot, he adds.

Niki Ottosen, owner of Gardener for Hire and a certified horticulturist, often gets phone calls from homeowners or real estate agents looking for help tidying up homes before they’re put on the market.

“They want a quick cleanup and they want ideas on how to make it look good before they take pictures,” she says.

For simple freshen-ups, she advises clients to redefine the edges of garden beds, spend some time weeding and add some bark mulch to gardens or around plants. “It adds curb appeal and shows people that you take care of your place.”

With people living busy lives and spending precious spare time on things they enjoy more, not everyone will be interested or motivated to go to town on their yard, Ottosen says.

“What I find is a lot of people find gardening overwhelming. They’re OK doing painting and stuff, but when it comes to gardening (it seems like) a lot of work. It’s hard work and if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and double your workload. But with a few little trade secrets it can make your work easier.”

Some homeowners don’t know how to get started so they don’t want to get started, she says. “We do know the short cuts and know how to do it really fast. And after, people are very thankful for the help.”

That fact – not to mention Greater Victoria’s mild climate – has helped the local residential and commercial gardening and landscaping industry blossom in recent years.

Ayres, an admitted “non-gardener,” has a go-to landscaper he works with on a regular basis for situations where the homeowner may not wish to tackle the job, or on vacated properties for sale that need to be maintained.

While a neat and tidy lot is a must, there’s a fine line between having a nice garden and one that looks like way too much work, he says. “Having too elaborate a garden might turn some people off. But you might also get someone who sees it as a real plus.”

Ottosen agrees.

“When they’re looking to buy a home, people look for what they have to do. If the gardening part of it is already done, it’s a weight off of them,” she says.

Ayres, the veteran Realtor, leaves home sellers with a simple plan:

“If you’re trying to sell your home this spring or summer, keep your lawn green. Use your watering days.”

ddescoteau@vicnews.com

Q: WHAT CAN I DO TO SPRUCE UP MY YARD WHEN SELLING MY HOME?

Scrub away the dirt – Clean moss-covered or stained pathways or concrete areas with a power washer, and use it on outside walls too, if not painting the house.

Freshen up the colour – Put a coat of paint on arbors, fences and gates and other wooden elements to cross that off the buyers’ to-do list

See your yard from the inside out – View sight lines to the garden and grounds from inside. Place tasteful garden art in prominent places near windows; perhaps colour-co-ordinate the item with interior decorations.

Stage your patio – Set outdoor tables with place mats, and attractive plates and flatware, as if guests were coming over.

 

SELLER’S TIP | Check the Better Business Bureau or chamber of commerce for qualified landscapers

 

GREATER VICTORIA MARKET UPDATE » COURTESY VICTORIA REAL ESTATE BOARD

» 714 / 659 — NET UNCONDITIONAL SALES MAY 2014 / MAY 2013

» 1,509 / 1,428 — NEW LISTINGS FOR MONTH, MAY 2014 / MAY 2013

» 4,672 / 4,783 — ACTIVE RESIDENTIAL LISTINGS PEAK MAY 2014 / MAY 2013

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