The key considerations to remember when developing a garden to help sell your property.
As a gardener plying my trade throughout the greenery of Worcestershire, I am often asked for advice on what I would do if “their garden were my garden,” (if you catch my meaning!) – the classic question that seeks to get to the truth of an answer by basically saying: “What would you do in my position?” The reality of it is slightly more nuanced than that, as gardens depend upon your own tastes and your ability to enjoy them, and there are several factors which account for these. And in everyone, it is different.
But in our property-obsessed economy, with most homes earning near the median after-tax wage (£18,700) with annual house price inflation (8% on an average property worth £216,000 – an annual gain of £17,000), then it is not hard to see why owners are keen to ensure their properties keep in line with this rise – should they ever wish to move, then they will be keen to get the best price possible to keep in line for their step up on the ladder.
And one of the secrets to doing this is the state of your garden and what value it adds in the eyes of the buyer.
Here, we must return to those dreaded nuances that make any absolute answer impossible. The eyes of any buyer are akin to the eyes of the beholder – it’s their priorities that will make your garden attractive to them or not.
So what are the key determinants of these factors? The buyer’s age is probably the best place to start. This will dictate the essential needs of the home: will they have young children who will want to play outside in a safe and child-friendly environment? If so, then a high-maintenance garden will probably not be right for them, as they will likely be juggling busy careers too. If the buyer is older, perhaps newly retired and of the active variety, then a more extensive garden will probably suit them as they look for a hobby to keep themselves fit and mobile.
The second factor is both the price of your property and its location. This will allow you to roughly gauge the kind of person who would look to buy it. In Worcestershire, we have both rural and urban neighbourhoods, spanning a wide range of value, from country estates to terraced houses. If the value is over a certain price, people will expect a sizeable garden or outdoor space to come with it (unless it is an ultra-modern luxury flat with a gated foyer).
And it’s not just how the current garden looks. It’s what the buyers’ think they can do with it that counts. If the garden is one of high-maintenance, with extensive borders and weeded beds, then some will believe that it is simply too hard a job for them to change it over. If, on the other hand, it is an easily-maintained space then it is less of a factor that they have to consider upon debating whether to make an offer.
So in general terms, if I am asked for advice on how to present a garden for a property sale, I would have to go for the simplest advice:
- Keep it neat and tidy. Whatever type of garden you have, if a messy jungle confronts a prospective buyer then they will hesitate. After all, if you can’t control what is outside your house, have you really made an effort inside? And it all adds up to extra effort on the buyers behalf to sort it out of they do get around to making an offer you accept.
- Avoid ornate! Showing a garden’s potential is actually more important than showing a finished article when considering a house sale. If a buyer comes to view and sees your own little Eden, then it might be very different to their preferred paradise, and they will imagine all the hard work they will need to ‘correct’ it.
- Make sure all the lawns are mowed and that borders and beds are weeded and scrubs kept under control. It will present an excellent perception of the property at the very least.
- Remove any ‘unmentionables!’ If the garden has an obvious sore spot, then it is probably advisable to try and deal with it before the house goes on the market. These would be areas like old ponds that have become a potential hazard, trees that are threatening to drop their branches overhead, areas of out of control growth, rotting garden furniture and damaged sheds and glasshouses, and any rubbish or bric-a-brac that might have built up in the garden over the years. (We had one property where we removed a land bank and found decades’ old rubbish in there from an old house renovation that had taken place in the 70s!)
Having said all of these fine points, if your garden is a place that you enjoy spending time in, then please don’t go rushing to turn it into something else solely for a house sale. That would be a dreadful shame!