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Landscaping Can Make or Break Curb Appeal for Homebuyers
By Mark Nash

Homebuyers love an inviting home even before they see the interior. Home sellers can take some easy steps to turn a drive by or Internet photo of their home into a showing appointment. Mark Nash author of 1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home offers easy tips for your readers and viewers to prepare their home for spring market.

-Purchase a seasonal wreath for your front door.

-Place a pair of planters that match the style of your home on the front porch. Fill with blooming flowers or loosen frozen soil with hot water and fill with evergreen boughs and red or yellow dogwood available at your florist or garden center. If you have window boxes duplicate flowers or evergreen look.

-Donít put silk flowers or plants into any exterior landscape.

-Give buyers a glimpse of your summer gardens when selling a home in the winter. Display a collage of photos of your landscaping in spring, summer and fall.

-Clean up any tree branches, leaves, trash and pet droppings in front and rear yards.

-Position spotlights from home center stores at the base of ornamental trees to up light branches for a dramatic effect.

-Spread decorative bar mulch over flowerbeds and around tree bases for a manicured and professional look.

-Take down any leftover holiday decorations. Resist using clear Italian lights to accent trees or shrubs. Kitsch is out.

-Clear away snow and ice from sidewalks and driveways immediately, to illustrate pride of ownership.

-A fresh application of driveway sealer on asphalt can give it an update.

-Edge sidewalks and driveways, irrigate and mow lawns and prune shrubs and trees. Well-maintained homes attract buyers.

-Spread new decorative gravel to freshen up driveways. Bare spots and irregular levels can distract buyers from the overall look upon arrival.

-House numbers should be easily visible from the street. Make sure theyíre lit at night.

-Limit yard ornaments to a favored few. Excess ornaments can make yards look busy and buyers might want them included in a purchase contract.

-Make sure your barbecue grill is clean and operational, especially if you plan to leave it.

-Clear gutters of debris and make sure there are no weeds growing in them. Look for clogged and dented downspouts. Place splash pads or gutter extensions to move rainwater away from the foundation, a typical home inspector complaint.

-All soil should be graded down hill away from foundations. Do it before an inspector red flags it.

-Trim trees and shrubs back around air-conditioning condensing units. Remove covers for home inspection testing.

-Take a good look from the street or road at the front of your home. Look for shrubs that are over grown or dead and remove and replace with shrubs that are to scale to your home. Small inexpensive bushes send the wrong message.

-Add annual flowers in home foundation beds. Select one or two colors to create visual uniformity. White and purple are a good choice to add color punch to a landscape.

-Paint and refresh yard lights, flagpoles, mailboxes, window boxes, fences and trellis. Donít forget the swing set or play equipment.

-Have pool bottom painted and any deferred pool maintenance performed. Keep water crystal clear and inviting. Keep pool temperature on the warm side when buyers stoop to test the water.

-Lay sod or bare spot grass seed in lawn areas that need attention, near play equipment, dog runs and non-paved pathways. Unkempt lawns are the number one landscape turn-offs for buyers.

-Replace broken bricks on terraces, cracked concrete patios and steps. Eliminate trips and falls on property showings.

-Restore screens on porches and lanaiís. Dirty, rusty and ripped screens limit functionality to homebuyers.

-Have irrigation systems flushed and checked. Donít overlook outside water spigots.

-Verify that drains in exterior basement stairwells and garages drain properly and are free of debris.

-Hire a landscape designer to make plan to perk up a tired landscape. Professionals can provide a fresh perspective that can appeal to buyers.

-Plant low maintenance plants and shrubs that are appropriate to your area.

-Educated plant lovers are on the rise and they know which plants are winter hardy. High maintenance plants such as roses can overwhelm first-time buyers.

Mark Nash's fourth real estate book, "1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home" (2005), and working as a real estate broker in Chicago are the foundation for his consumer-centric real estate perspective which has been featured on ABC-TV, CBS The Early Show, Bloomberg TV, CNN-TV, Chicago Sun Times & Tribune, Fidelity Investorís Weekly, Dow Jones Market Watch, MSNBC.com, The New York Times, Realty Times, Universal Press Syndicate and USA Today.