The Importance of Getting the Front Garden Right
Imagine you are driving up to view a house that you have looked at online and fallen instantly in love with, but, as you pull up outside the first thing you see is dried-out yellow grass, overgrown bushes and clutter, would you bother going inside? Let’s be honest, probably not. On the other hand, luscious green grass and bright beautiful flowers would surely have you beaming from ear to ear before you even step foot out of the car.
Your garden is the very first thing people see when they come to your house and therefore you want it to give a good impression at all times but kerb appeal becomes all the more important when you are selling your home. Did you know it takes buyers just ten seconds to decide whether they like a property and that 44% of house hunters would offer up to 20% below the asking price if they found the exterior off-putting? On the other hand – a well maintained garden could add 20% to your property value – or £60,000 based on the current average UK price.
A survey by Barclays mortgages found that more than a third of property buyers make their decisions purely based on a homes exterior and won’t look inside if they are unimpressed. In fact, 53% said they would buy a property that looked appealing on the outside, even if the inside needed a huge amount of work.
Robin Edwards, a London Property buying agent at Curetons, recalls:
“I had one recent client who refused to even look inside a property after seeing the state of the front garden, it was a real shame because inside the house really was rather nice and it was only the front garden that was letting it down.”
And, in our capital city, where front gardens are nearly as hard to come by as parking spaces, Robin says: “Front gardens are definitely a USP in the London market, they’re pretty rare, particularly in central London. They definitely add significantly to the appeal and presentation of a property. Although I wouldn’t say for most buyers it was essential to have a front garden, it’s definitely an added bonus.”
Vicky Iddon, Branch Manager at Home Truths Estate Agents in Eccleston, Lancashire, agrees and has found that potential buyers have booked a viewing based on the images online but changed their mind when they found the garden to be neglected and overgrown on arrival. On the other hand, she explains:
“We find that buyers will often drive by a property before making the decision to view, and if the front garden and the front door are welcoming and well maintained, the potential buyers are more likely to contact us for a viewing.”
However, on recalling the front garden that has stood out for her the most, she says, “We had a rural property on the market and this property has a stunning front garden, with beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. The outlook from the front of the property is better than that at the back, and to make the most of the front outlook, the vendors constructed a conservatory and terrace in the front garden. This enabled them to enjoy the view while they lived there, and at the same time created an unforgettable first impression on all viewers who visited the property.”
Valerie Millard, who is currently in the process of putting her house on the market and looking for her next property, says that the front garden is very important to her.
“While I am looking closely at the gardens of the properties I am viewing I am also working on my own garden at the same time. I enjoy gardening and am always pottering around making sure it looks nice – both for myself and now for those viewing my property. However, I felt like the grass wasn’t in great condition and so recently I got a whole new lawn – to bring it back to life. The little things make a big difference but your grass is also a huge part of the garden.”
Kerb appeal is made up of several factors and the exterior of your home stretches far beyond the grass. However, 58% said they disliked an unkempt front garden. And the most desirable kerb appeal feature is a well-manicured garden with 69% saying they would like one. Chief Horticulturalist, Guy Barter from the RHS, says his key tip would be:
“To neaten out lawn edges and make sure the grass is mown down tight.”
However, some buyers even said they would take into account how appealing the neighbours’ houses and gardens are.
“We recently had another property on the market that had a well maintained front garden. However, two doors down was a property with a neglected front garden and an old and dilapidated caravan situated on the front driveway. Unfortunately for our property, it was their neighbours’ front garden that put off a significant number of potential viewers and meant that it stayed on the market for longer than it should.”
The RHS actually run ‘Britain in Bloom’ competitions across the country to encourage homeowners to take care and pride in their gardens, transforming their attitudes to their outside area as well as working together as a community to make streets more aesthetically pleasing.
Did you know a quarter of all gardens are now paved over? Guy believes this is because, “People need more space for cars, think their front gardens are too small for plants, don’t have enough time to do it or think that it is hard work.”
Alongside this, new builds are also forgoing the front garden due to lack of space. The RHS wants to bring back colour and life to streets by reversing this trend, but in a recent survey they found that only 10% said growing plants in their front garden was an activity that they wanted to do. However, a whopping 73% say greener streets make them feel happier, 59% say they would feel healthier and 58% say they would feel calmer with planted areas along the road.
Guy goes on to explain:
“Gardens are important because they provide protection against flooding, support wildlife and keep us healthy. It doesn’t take much – a few containers, or hanging baskets are better than nothing and actually make gardens look really nice.”
It doesn’t actually have to cost you much money; all you need to do is make some quick and easy changes. And, actually, you may be surprised to hear that simpler gardens are usually easier to sell because buyers can be put off by spaces that look difficult to maintain.
Adrian Nind, an expert from gardening firm Bakker, advises: “Maintain your garden by doing a little daily rather than a lot every month, it keeps the work down and standard high.”
She goes on to say that her top tip is to:
“keep plenty of evergreens in your garden. They give colour all through the year and can be shaped to fit a border. Spring bulbs look attractive, they are low cost and easy to plant. Once they have finished flowering they are easy to remove by just pulling them up.”
Ultimately, as long as the garden looks neat, tidy and well-looked after it will give a welcoming and modern feel that will encourage buyers to step inside and see the rest and perhaps even pay you that little bit more. While the garden is incredibly important, it only makes up a small part of your exterior – so don’t forget about the other things that are in your control – a lick of paint for instance, could make all the difference.
Working in your garden won’t just ensure that it makes a good impression on potential buyers, it is also beneficial to both your mental and physical health – so, what are you waiting for? Dig out the spade from the back of the shed, dust off the cobwebs and create an outdoor space to be proud of.
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