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Review The Landscape Before You Buy Or Sell

Written by Posted On Thursday, 27 March 2008 17:00

Spring is typically a good time for homeowners to start preparing to sell their homes because families interested in moving will often look now so that they can buy a home just in time for the kids to go on summer break.

Landscaping and curb appeal are among the top areas that buyers notice first. In fact, some studies show that good quality landscaping can increase the value of a home from 5 to 11 percent. Elements such as curving flowering beds and design sophistication attract buyers more easily than just rectangular boxes filled with flowers. Plant size and the diversity of plant material are also important to buyers. And colorful plants that often don't cost much to put in such as annuals can really brighten the look and the appeal of a yard.

That's why as the country gradually starts to thaw out, many sellers start to spiff up their homes and gardens to make them irresistible to buyers but these things can bring unwanted guests as well. If you don't plan carefully, you could be building an attractive garden that leads a trail of ants right inside your home.

"If you build a beautiful mulch garden around your home, you want some sort of a concrete barrier or some other material besides wood between the mulch area and your home," says Nic Izatt, branch manager for Antac Pest Control.

Izatt says it's very important to not have any earth-to-wood contact. He says that having a garden too close to your home without any barrier can encourage ant and termite colonies to develop.

So while you may be looking to create value and appeal give consideration to things that might not only attract insects (which can be a minor or major problem) but also consider how the overall landscape is working in a yard.

The American Society of Home Inspectors cautions buyers and sellers that, as they are enjoying the pretty landscape, they need to be sure to give a careful check on how the elements all function together. For instance, are the plants healthy? Is the placement of large trees, the garden or lawn in a hazardous position or sloping toward the home? Is foliage too close to the home? Again, this can become a breeding ground for insects. Taking note of these types of possible landscape issues can help to ward off future headaches.

Here are a few things to watch for when either getting your yard ready for sale or when looking to buy.

Get to the root of it: while seeing exactly where trees roots are located can be a bit difficult, spotting any obvious signs of lifting or cracking sidewalks or driveways can be an indication that there is a root problem. The opposite also poses a problem. If you see areas where the yard is sunken in, that could indicate a leaking sewer line resulting from a root interference problem.

Know the topography: understand potential risks such as if you're located at the bottom of a hillside. In heavy rains the water will flow downward toward the foundation of your home, possibly causing flood.

Limb control: notice if tree limbs are out of control, branching out in every direction and touching the roof or interfering with power lines. Watch out for tree limbs that are hanging over chimneys as animals can climb down the chimney but also the branches could block the draft, creating higher carbon monoxide levels in the home.

Close-up look: closely examine plants in your yard and be sure that you don't see mushrooms or fungus growing at the bottom of the trees as that can be a warning sign of a health issue.

Landscaping that's been thoughtfully created and taken care of will be a huge benefit to both the seller and the buyer.

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Phoebe Chongchua

Phoebe Chongchua is an award-winning journalist, an author, customer service trainer/speaker, and founder of Setting the Service Standard, a customer service training and consulting program offered by Live Fit Enterprises (LFE) based in San Diego, California. She is the publisher of Live Fit Magazine, an online publication that features information on real estate/finance, physical fitness, travel, and philanthropy. Her company, LFE, specializes in media services including marketing, PR, writing, commercials, corporate videos, customer service training, and keynotes & seminars. Visit her magazine website:

Phoebe's articles, feature stories, and columns appear in various publications including The Coast News, Del Mar Village Voice, Rancho Santa Fe Review, and Today's Local News in San Diego, as well as numerous Internet sites. She holds a California real estate license. Phoebe worked for KGTV/10News in San Diego as a Newscaster, Reporter and Community Affairs Specialist for more than a decade. Phoebe's writing is also featured in Donald Trump's book: The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buying Foreclosures. She is the author of If the Trash Stinks, TAKE IT OUT! 14 Worriless Principles for Your Success.

Contact Phoebe at (858) 259-3646 or Visit for more information.

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