Attention to detail outside house attracts buyers

By Lin Connery for the Calgary Herald

July 16, 2005

When selling a home in summer, outdoor space — front and back — can be almost as important as what’s inside. First impressions are crucial: After all, if you can’t coax viewers out of the car, they’re not going to buy your house.

When preparing your home for sale, stroll to the curb and take a good, long look from the vantage point of a prospective buyer. Take note of little chores and minor repairs that should be taken care of.
Potential buyers are picky — they may have a messy lawn at home, but they’ll turn up their nose at your dandelions. If your house looks like a winner, it will get more and better offers.

Next, do your own drive-by — discover what prospective buyers see when they cruise past. Will your house make their short list of homes to see?

A brief consultation with a designer can more than pay for itself when the home sells quickly and for more money.

If you have a back lane, that’s another aspect of curb appeal that shouldn’t be ignored. Prospective buyers who are really interested are almost certain to walk or drive along a back lane to check the rear view. Fix and tidy as required.

If your backyard landscape features only a couple of lonely shrubs and a bare patch of lawn, consider adding an instant garden through “potscaping.”

Instead of digging flower beds, plant lavish displays of blooms or ornamental grasses in co-ordinated pots and arrange them in attractive groupings, says Karyn Elliott, owner of Albertine Design and Crazy House Home Staging.

Because everything in the garden is in a moveable pot, all plantings can be rearranged according to what’s in bloom on the day of a showing.

A variety of pot sizes can also give a nice multilevel look to the oasis just outside the backdoor.
Also consider sight lines from inside the home — create a view that will lure prospective buyers out into the garden.

If there’s already a conventional garden in place but the plants are less than impressive, fill in gaps with potted beauties.

Potscaping can be particularly effective when space is tight, says Elliott. Even the tiniest balcony or patio can become an attractive garden space — and a real selling point.

Homeowners selling in spring, summer and fall have another advantage that shouldn’t be overlooked — outdoor patios, decks and balconies can be presented as valuable extra living space.

  • Consider the view — even the most carefully planned space can be ruined by a view of the neighbour’s trash.
  • If the views from your yard are unattractive, or if privacy is an issue, add a trellis or a high fence.
  • Create a colour palette much as you would for a room in your home, with primary, secondary and accent colours.
  • Choose easily maintained textures and colours that complement your exterior finishes.
  • Combine comfortable furnishings with interesting plant life.
  • Talk to a professional for ideas before you start building.

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