By James Wall.
Selling property is one of the biggest changes you will make in life. Whether it be the home you live in or an investment property, the main aim is to sell it for as much as possible.
Whilst many vendors are keen to de-clutter the house, employ a stylist and even hire furniture – not as many think about the garden and the value it can provide. The day comes to take the photos for the glossy brochures and that’s when any glaring omissions in the garden become plainly obvious.
When someone sees your property online, or they drive past, first impressions are important. Overgrown plants, weeds and empty pots can be a turn-off, and therefore one less potential buyer who may decide to take a look. Conversely, it can be another bargaining chip for an investor who just wants to hammer you for the lowest price, so they can make all the upside.
The investment required to to improve your garden quickly is minimal. Obviously a smaller courtyard garden is going to be easy to make a big difference, but even a large garden can undergo simple cosmetic changes and have great effect.
Here is a simple guide as to what a small budget would cost in terms of a percentage of sales:
Sell a property for 500,000 and spending $1000 on the garden is 0.2 percent of the sale
Sell a property for 750,000 and spending $1000 on the garden is 0.13 percent of the sale
Sell a property for 1 mill and spending $2000 on the garden is 0.2 percent of the sale
Sell a property for 1.5 million and spending $2000 on the garden is 0.13 percent of the sale.
Obviously, if you do the work yourself and spend the money on plants and materials, the effect will be even greater.
The reason I point these numbers out is that many people come into a nursery and want to tizzy up the garden for sale by spending just $300 or $400. They usually buy plants that are too small for the job and only half do the job.
Chinese Star Jasmine greets perspective buyers.
TIPS FOR BUYING PLANTS TO HELP SELL YOUR HOUSE
- Don’t necessarily come in with a pre-determined list – be flexible and consider alternatives if they are looking better. Often there are plants in season that are at there peak. Choose what is looking good.
- Include some flowering plants, especially for the front. This helps with that cheery feel – but don’t overdo it. Remember you can usually use plants in full flower as the campaign will usually only be for six weeks. Buy them in larger pots and expect to pay $15 each for some good ones.
- Use plants in larger pots – minimum 20cm diameter pots. Some bigger plants may cost $50 and a larger feature specimen may cost $150, buy this can still fit in a $1000 budget.
- Tell the nursery people what you are doing and ask if there are any larger type plants that are on special at the moment. Some things just give better bang for bucks.
- Mulching around plants with a natural coloured pine bark mulch can really finish off the look of freshly planted plants quite nicely. Up to 10 bags buy at a nursery but for bigger gardens consider getting a bulk load delivered for better value.
- Replace shabby plants in pots that can’t be resurrected. This goes for herb gardens and vegetable gardens. If they look ordinary, you are not selling the dream. Advanced herbs are easy to get for between 7 and $15 but advanced vegetables are sometimes a bit harder to get. In warmer months lettuce grows very quickly and can be sourced in extra large cell punnets for around $10. Those 6 plants will grow surprisingly quickly and add to the effect.
If you are not a gardener, start thinking like a gardener. Walk the whole property with a pair of secatuers and cut off any yellowing or dead leaves. It might just be 3 dead fronds off a tree fern, or a few yellow leaves on a hedge that dried out once or twice over summer. You want everything to look green. If you have enough time, apply liquid feed to your garden or throw down some fast acting granular fertiliser, but obviously not slow release fertiliser that will just take too long to react.
Dead head flowers that look finished or damaged. This will encourage new flowers. Strip old leaves off the bottom of agaves and cordylines.
Prune back big overgrown shrubs, especially in small gardens where you want to promote a sense of space.
Mow the lawn regularly but don’t cut too hard as this loses that luscious lawn look that we want.
Sweep or blow paths
This is where most people get it wrong. Plants that have only recently been planted need regular watering. If you are not living at the property, you will need to check the watering at least 3 times per week – more in hot weather.
Water at the base of flowering plants so as not to wet the flowers. The flowers will then last twice as long.
Sweeping, raking and rolling up hoses. All those little things you do before the inspections will make a big difference.
Remember, that as well as watering for at least a month leading up to the sale – you may even need to maintain for another 90 days until settlement. This may be a challenge if you are not living in the house you are selling. It is common decency however to hand over the property in the same state as the buyer saw it, and that includes the garden.
FINALLY – WHAT IS UGLY ?
De-clutter – its just the same outside the house as in the house. Make it look clean and simple.
Get an independent person in and ask them what looks ugly in your backyard. Often its things you never noticed – like a damaged fence, rusted clothes line or sheet of corrugated steel at the back of your vegetable garden. Faded plastic kids toys are another ugly addition to many a back yard. Block it out, cover it, or get rid of it.
As you can see, none of this is hard. It is merely a list of achievable solutions to help improve the look of your garden. You’ll have it all ready for sale, it will look fantastic and you will think to yourself, “Why hasn’t it looked like that for the last 5 years”
But thats’s ok, don’t spend any more energy on this one, save it for the next one !