Aside from “location, location, location” there is only one other constant in determining the market value of your home: curb appeal. That first impression the prospective buyer gets when approaching sets the tone for everything that follows. The old axiom about judging a book by its cover is easily translatable to real estate. Even the brainiest of us human beings are simple sorts when it comes to emotional reactions. First impressions are strongest and cosmetics are critical. Investing a few extra dollars in the appearance of your community will return more dollars to your pocket when it comes time to sell. A $10,000 landscaping facelift at the entry to your association could translate into a $5,000 increase in market value for each of the 100-1,000 homes.
Landscaping is more than just shrubbery and well-maintained lawns. It includes signing, irrigation, fountains, brickwork, tree-care, and pest control. For hi-rises, “landscaping” can translate to Interior Decorating of the front lobby and common areas..
Signing can have a major impact on a newcomer. The quality and tastefulness of the signing is the first subliminal message a visitor gets. The clarity and effectiveness of directional signing on the grounds creates another subtle impression. Visitors who get lost and confused are not happy people. They would be less likely to want to live in a community where coming home is a mystical maze. Making sure those signs around the property are large enough to read and concise in what they say is the first thing. Making sure they are freshly painted and properly displayed is an essential part of your preventive maintenance program, or should be.
Your irrigation system is a modern convenience we take for granted and often neglect. The convenience and effectiveness of a mechanically timed system designed to cover all the necessary green areas is an example of life in these here United States. A broken sprinkler head can turn that pleasant idyll into a costly nightmare. Broken sprinkler heads can cause a myriad of problems. The area it’s supposed to cover goes dry and brown. Result is ‘ugly’. A broken sprinkler head or line can cause an enormous waste of water. If you’re still living in the ‘50s when the cost of water was insignificant, welcome to the 21st century where it has become an expensive natural resource. Take a look at your water bill then your sewer bill to get a feeling for the losses you can incur from waste. Now where does all this wasted water go? No place good, that’s for sure. It can create muddy areas of over-watering, sinkholes that swallow up small cars and large household pets, or puddle around the foundation of the building where it penetrates basements and first floor units. A broken irrigation system is insidious and costly. Nobody wants to buy a home with a water problem. Here again we have a preventive maintenance situation. A regular inspection of all sprinkler heads should be standard operating procedure. Monitoring the water bills each month will also tip you off to any hidden problems in the lines.
Trees are enormous assets that are often overlooked. Try shopping around for a replacement for a mature tree. You’ll realize that your landscape inventory of trees might well rival the value of the buildings themselves. Most landscapers are not arborists. They might have a familiarity with most of the trees on your property, but you deserve the advise of a tree-care professional at least once every two years. While a healthy tree is an attractive asset that adds value to your property, a diseased tree is an eyesore and a safety hazard. The strong winds that we all know are coming can tear off a heavy limb or uproot a sick tree. Where it lands can be problematic. A semi-annual check-up by a licensed arborist is another important preventive maintenance item often ignored.
Fountains and attractive masonry or brickwork are hallmarks of prestige properties. The addition of an attractive aerating fountain can be a big plus as long as it’s properly maintained. Well-designed fencing creates eye-appeal. Walkways that are now concrete or macadamized might take on a whole new look if they were brick or cobblestone. It generally will cost nothing to have a company come out and make a proposal for what they might do to enhance the curb appeal of your property through some selective fountains or brickwork.
Pest control can be the hidden danger that surprises you with overnight problems. In New England it was grubs and the moles that ate them. Beautifully maintained lawns were destroyed in a matter of weeks. Tens of thousands of dollars were required to replace them. In Florida there was a plague of army worms that left unsightly holes and craters in your lawn. California seems to have a pest a month that keeps all the pest control professionals on their toes. If you don’t have a regular pest control contractor to look after your preventive maintenance areas, you’re inviting disaster. Nothing can be more dramatically expensive to replace than your landscaping. Keeping it pest free is relatively inexpensive as long as you keep up with it. Termite infestations are not the only house-killers. Leave it to the pros and avoid what could and will be a disaster for those left unprotected.
Most of the items mentioned can be dealt with at a very low comparative cost. Preventive maintenance is the key in almost every area. “Comparative” is the key word. To get an immediate understanding, just ask what the going rate for replacement sod is and then do a quick calculation on just one small area of your grounds. You’ll be up in the thousands of dollars in no time. The cost of mature trees is stunning. Keep what you’ve got and consider a regular annual investment in improved shrubbery, fencing, or other decorative plantings that add so much to the eye appeal and the resultant market value of your home. The math is easy.