First impressions matter, and this is particularly true in real estate. Whether you’re looking for ways to increase the value of your home, or just looking for a fun home project, consider upgrading your landscaping.
Multiple sources attest to the draw that a beautifully landscaped yard has on potential home buyers. Martin Eiden, a top broker with Compass in New York City, claims that good landscaping can increase a home’s value by 10 to 15% at the most. Similarly, a study by Michigan State University found that potential home buyers perceived the value of a home with good landscaping to be 11% higher than a home without it. In addition, a survey done by the National Association of Landscape Professionals found that 84% of Americans said that landscaping would impact their decision to buy a home.
With spring weather here to stay, now is the perfect time to make an investment in your home by improving your landscaping. It may sound like an overwhelming project. Where do you start?
Here are some helpful tips to consider as you embark on this project.
1. Think Outside the Green Box
A green lawn has become a staple of the American yard, but there are many quick and easy ways to add on to that to create more interest. To add a pop of color here and there, use potted flowers. Refresh the look of your lawn with new mulch around bushes and in plant beds. Add some outdoor furniture or lawn ornaments
2. Match Your Yard to Your Home
Make sure the style of your landscaping matches the style of your home. If you have a classic style of home, choose landscaping that reflects that style, don’t go for a bold, contemporary statement.
3. Opt for Sophistication
A green rectangle is uninspired. Employing more sophisticated design elements like curved lines for plant beds and an island of plants in the middle of a lawn is much more interesting, and can even result in a higher sale price, according to a survey by Turf magazine. The same survey also found that yards with a mix of large trees and colorful annual plants also sold better.
4. Plan for Each Season
Plan your landscaping so that it will look good all year round. This is especially important for home-owners in a four-season climate. A blog post by HouseCall describes what plants to choose for each season, “blooming bulbs for spring, annual beds around the house during the summer, shrubs with brightly colored leaves in the fall, and evergreens for the winter”.
5. Trees are Awesome
Trees not only increase the value of your property, they also clean the air, provide fruit, provide privacy, and can reduce your heating and cooling bills. What a powerhouse plant! In addition, they are relatively inexpensive to plant.
A study by Landscape and Urban Planning found that homes with trees in the front yard in Portland, Oregon, sold for $8,870 more and also sold 1.7 days faster than those homes without them. A single hardwood tree can remove 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air in a year. The U.S. Department of Energy found that strategically planted trees can reduce a home’s energy use by 25%, since they can provide shade in the summer and block wind in the winter. The Tree Benefit Calculator can give homeowners an estimate of how much benefit a given tree can give the neighborhood.
While trees are generally awesome, if you are planting new ones, it’s important to choose their location carefully, making sure they aren’t too close to the driveway or home. Once matured, a badly placed tree can get in the way of power lines or septic system drain fields, a definite detractor for potential buyers.
6. Invest in an Automatic Irrigation System
If you are going to put the time, effort, and money into upgrading your yard, you may want to protect that investment, and reduce your daily time spent maintaining the landscaping, with an automatic irrigation system.
7. Keep it Low Maintenance
While a well-landscaped yard is a definite asset, for most homeowners it’s best to create a yard that is also relatively low-maintenance. Unless gardening is your passion, you’ll get the most economic benefit from a yard that’s easy to maintain.
If you live in an area that’s dry, like California or the southwestern states, consider water-smart landscaping, which features artfully placed rocks with bushes and shrubs that don’t require much water.
In general, plants that are native to the area you live in will be hardier and easier to maintain. They won’t need as much water, fertilizer, or hands on care to thrive in their native environment as something exotic would.
8. Create a welcoming pathway
Visitors and anyone interested in buying your home will encounter the front yard first and enter through the front door. Make a good first impression by designing a pathway to the front door that creates interest. “Ideally, have it winding with plants or a small hedge on each side,” says New York City broker Martin Eiden.
9. Install Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor lighting not only shows off your beautiful landscaping at night, it also provides added safety for anyone coming and going at night, and can ward off burglars. Outdoor lights can now be LED or solar-powered, saving money and electricity. There are a wide range of outdoor lights available, so you can pick up a simple DIY kit at a hardware store, or invest in a professional to design and install a lighting scheme.
10. Edge the Lawn
Since you have put the time, effort, and finances into improving your landscaping, why not finish the job with a nice clean edge around your lawn? This is especially important for home sellers. It will add clean lines and a sense of organization to your yard, overall. This sends a signal to potential buyers that you have kept the property in tip-top condition. For tips on how to edge your lawn, click here.
If you haven't noticed, the north end of downtown has been developing. The former Big L tires has been revitalized into new and exciting businesses including Magpie, the Perch, and Chestnut Ridge Coffee Roasters. Joining the ranks and officially opening their doors the day of this posting is Sage Bird Ciderworks!
If you're anything like me, you have loved seeing downtown embrace the craft beer movement. I can remember when Jack Browns first opened their doors and had 100 beers available. My mind was blown. They knew that the craft beer movement was the future. Zach and Amberlee Carlson, the owners and founders of Sage Bird, are hoping on the craft cider wave that has begun to gain momentum.
If you aren't familiar with cider, I highly recommend watching the interview below or go in and strike up a conversation with Zach and Amberlee. Their passion for the craft is contagious. They will explain that while most people think Cider is similar to beer, it is actually classified as a wine. Cider finds itself in the middle with a plethora of apple varieties and infusions that will leave you always guessing what else could be possible.
At Sage Bird Ciderworks, Zach and Amberlee have decided to focus their craft to what is Virginia. What do I mean by that? They are only using native apples and other ingredients to Virginia. This pure taste of the Commonwealth will push their creative spirits to find new and exciting concoctions you may not find elsewhere.
What about the environment? It's great! Zach and Amberlee are both very artistic and it shows. From the murals on the walls to the graphic design, you are going to enjoy the experience. I highly recommend checking out the back patio space... you probably never knew about the cliffs of Rocktown.
The interview below occurred on July 22nd, 2020.
It's been a couple of months since I first caught wind of Elkton Brewing Co. The feedback was all positive and I immediately became curious. What would the atmosphere be like? What would the beer be like?
Finally, the stars aligned and I visited the brewery after a later afternoon showing in Elkton. And now I am a promoter. I have been back multiples times for pints and to grab crowlers. In fact, I still have a crowler in the refrigerator I am saving for a special occasion.
So, what can you expect? Why should you visit Elkton Brewing Co? Let's start with the beer.
The first thing to know about the brewing process is that there will be a lot of rotation. So, you can be sure to expect new and exciting things regularly. In fact, there is a good chance that this menu is already changed a little.
I think their website summarizes it well: "We are a small craft brewery specializing in natural artisan beers, concentrating less on volume and more on quality craftsmanship."
But how does the beer taste? Amazing. It has quickly become one of my favorites in our area. It also provides variety with a new favorite brewery to visit but also a new location. You can end do a river float on the Shenandoah river and grab beers afterwards. You can do a hike on Skyline and come back for Bella Luna pizza and beers afterwards! Or, you can just go to enjoy the atmosphere.
Shenandoah River Proximity
Skyline Drive Hikes
The home of Elkton Brewing Co was used as a storage building for the family's paper business. The downstairs was most recently used as a church with the upstairs being office rooms. The upstairs still offers really cool office space including a conference room that houses the inspiration for the brewery logo.
The conversion from a church to a brewery did not require that much renovating. The stage is perfect for live music events. There are a good number of indoor and outdoor seating depending on your preference. In addition, Bella Luna's wood fire pizza truck has been serving up fresh pies on the weekends. What's not to love about that!
The brewery is owned and run by brothers: August, Aaron, and Tristan Napotnik. That brotherly spirit comes out in the interview below but also if you go visit with them in person. It's a fun light-hearted vibe. If you're lucky enough to grab a beer while a train comes by, then you'll get the "Chugga-Chug Discount" or 10% off.
If you want more details on Elkton, listen to my interview with Tristan below. Also, be sure to stop by for a refreshing beer!
Most of us are familiar with traditional staging; the act of decorating and furnishing a home for sale to appeal to potential buyers. A well staged home can produce stunning listing photos that will encourage buyers to tour the home. It can also help buyers envision themselves living in the house. In recent years, a new trend has emerged in home staging: virtual staging.
What is Virtual Staging?
Virtual staging takes photos of empty rooms and then uses photo-editing software to add in attractive furniture and decor (like mirrors, plants, rugs, etc). While it is possible to download a DIY staging software, typically, you will get the best results by having a professional company virtually stage the photos. It’s also important that the photos you use are high-quality, preferably taken by a professional photographer.
Why opt for Virtual Staging?
When compared to traditional staging, virtual staging is much less expensive and saves the hassle of moving lots of furniture into the house or painting several rooms. According to realtor.com, “the average cost for most stagers is $300 to $600 for an initial design consultation, and $500 to $600 per month per staged room.” By comparison, most virtual staging companies will charge between $50-$200 per room depending on how much redecoration the room requires. Virtual staging can even include decluttering or “painting” rooms. In addition to saving money, virtual staging can be done quite quickly. Most companies offer a 2 day turn around on your photos.
Keep in Mind:
Bad virtual staging can immediately turn buyers off from perusing your listing photos and make them write off visiting your home. Alternatively, when you use a professional company, you should have a disclaimer in the caption of the photo that it has been virtually staged so the buyer is aware that when they visit the house, it will not look the exact same as the photos. You may decide you want to include the original photos of the empty rooms with the staged photos for this purpose. Virtual staging is not intended to trick buyers; it is a tool sellers use to help showcase a property while providing depth to the rooms so buyers can envision the space better. Ultimately, you may still decide to physically stage your house or use a mix of virtually and traditionally stages rooms for your listing. As always, a realtor can offer great advice and guidance for your particular situation.
As a buyer or a seller in the Harrisonburg and Rockingham housing market, you may be wondering what the average difference is between the listing price and sale price for a property. Ultimately, the difference represents the negotiation process. If you are a seller, this provides insight on how much you may want to list your house for, knowing negotiations may bring down the sale price slightly. If you are a buyer, this can help give you an idea of what is reasonable to offer for your housing market. Of course, your realtor will be the most valuable source of information during the listing and negotiation process; but, seeing the recent trends is a great place to start.
Harrisonburg Sale-to-List Ratio by Property Type
Let’s start with Harrisonburg. At the time of writing this, the average difference between the list price and sale price for all types of properties and price points is 98.5% (meaning the property sold at 98.5% of the list price) which is up from 97.34% from last year. So far this year, townhomes and duplexes have sold for 99.33% of their list price, condos have sold for 96.17%, and single family homes have sold for 98.2%. In 2019 townhomes/duplexes sold for 98.37%, condos for 96.23%, and single family homes for 96.63% of their listing price.
Harrisonburg Sale-to-List Ratio by Price Point
If we break down the Harrisonburg properties sold in 2020 by their price point* we find slight variations between categories. $0-$199,999 properties sold for 98.1%, $200,000-299,999 sold for 100.12%, $300,000-$449,999 sold for 95.89%, and $450,000 and up sold for 96.23% of their list prices. For reference, in 2019 the same price point categories sold as follows: $0-$199,999 properties sold for 96.96%, $200,000-299,999 sold for 98.46%, $300,000-$449,999 sold for 96.22%, and $450,000 and up sold for 93.53% of their list prices.
Rockingham Sale-to-List Ratio by Property Type
Now let’s look at Rockingham. The average difference between the list price and sale price for all types of properties and price points is 97.49% which is also up from 96.27% in 2019. Looking at property types, this year townhomes and duplexes have sold for 99.35% of their list price and single family homes have sold for 97.09%. In 2019 townhomes/duplexes sold for 99.29% and single family homes for 95.75% of their listing price.
Rockingham Sale-to-List Ratio by Price Point
The Rockingham properties also have slight variations between their price categories. For 2020, $0-$199,999 properties sold for 97.28%, $200,000-299,999 sold for 98.08%, $300,000-$449,999 sold for 97.85%, and $450,000 and up sold for 94.48% of their list prices. By comparison, in 2019 the same price point categories sold as follows: $0-$199,999 properties sold for 95.86%, $200,000-299,999 sold for 96.96%, $300,000-$449,999 sold for 96.36%, and $450,000 and up sold for 94.49% of their list prices.
If you want more details on the local sales statistics check out the monthly market reports.
*Price point was determined by the sell price, as opposed to the list price.
If you are considering putting your house on the market in the near future, you may be wondering what prospective homebuyers are looking for before investing in a home improvement project. Afterall, you don’t want to sink a lot of money and time into an upgrade that won’t appeal to buyers. These improvements go beyond fixing major issues that would come up during a home inspection (which should be addressed prior to putting your house on the market) or quick/ inexpensive fixes like cleaning the carpets or fixing chipped paint. So, what do buyers want in a house?
Renovated or Updated Kitchen
According to realtor.com, a survey they conducted in early April of this year found that 13.3% of 1,300 surveyed (both renters and owners of houses) rated an updated kitchen a must have for their next home. The 2019 Realtor Remodeling Impact Report found that 40% of realtors recommend sellers update their kitchen before listing their home (and 20% said it helped close a sale). Now more than ever, the COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged more people to cook at home, thereby making a kitchen with updated appliances a sought-after commodity. Check out these blog posts on counters, cabinets, and DIY renovation tips for more ideas on how to update your current kitchen. Also keep in mind that 75% of agents surveyed in HomeLight’s Q3 2019 Top Agent Insights Report said that stainless steel appliances are the most in demand appliance finish among buyers.
Gone are the days of wall-to-wall carpeting, homebuyers of recent years want hardwood floors. This home project has one of the best ROIs you can find in home remodeling; there is a 106% cost recovery of new hardwood flooring and 100% cost recovery to refinish existing hardwood floors (according to the same Realtor Remodeling Impact Report). If hardwood throughout the house is not in the budget, opting for another hard surface, like laminate, is still preferred over carpeting. Prioritize the main living areas and keep the carpet in the bedrooms if you can’t update all the flooring. The best practice is to keep the flooring consistent in the house by using the same color and material in all the rooms you plan to make hard surface floors.
Buyers today want modern interiors with clean lines. Bathrooms are similar to kitchens in that they are a high traffic area for family members and so they can wear out faster than other rooms in the house. Buyers like bathrooms with big showers that give off a spa-like environment. If you are not in a position to remodel a bathroom, re-grouting tile and replacing water stained ceilings will go a long way to refresh the space.
Even if you have all the amenities a prospective buyer could dream up inside your home, it’s the exterior of the house that will immediately create an impression on the buyers before they even step foot inside. Create some curb appeal to ensure you impress the buyer from the start. For a quick and relatively inexpensive face-lift, keep the yard mowed and powerwash the exterior of the house. Homebuyers also want ample exterior lighting for both aesthetic and safety reasons. If you can take on a bigger project, the number one outdoor feature buyers want in a house is a patio. Check out this blog post for tips on how to upgrade your existing patio or talk to a contractor about building one.
To get an offer on your house it’s important to help potential buyers envision making your house their new home. There are several ways to accomplish this, particularly with proper staging, but one of the best ways is to paint all the walls neutral colors. A neutral palette (think whites and grays) makes the furniture pop and gives the home a move-in ready appearance.
Let’s face it, Americans today have a lot of stuff. Minimalism, while trendy, is a challenge for most of us. We want to live in simple, calm spaces without sacrificing our beloved possessions. This creates a demand for more storage areas in the house. Homebuyers want walk-in closets, garages with shelving, large pantries, and laundry rooms. While it’s not always possible to create these spaces if they are not part of your floorplan, with a bit of creativity, you can still improve these areas. Try installing an organizational system with shelves and hanging rods to optimize the space in a reach-in closet. Similarly, you can add shelves and a peg wall for tools to increase the storage capacity for your garage or even invest in a shed.
Energy Efficiency and Smart Technology
According to 2019 survey results from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), energy-saving features such as Energy Star appliances, windows and whole house certification are among the most wanted home features. Buyers are willing to spend a little more upfront in the interest of saving money on utilities down the road. In addition to replacing old windows and appliances with energy-efficient ones, consider installing ceiling fans and smart thermostats which will also help lower utility costs. You may also decide to upgrade your insulation which boasts a recovery value of 83%. Be sure to have these features highlighted in your listing since they can be overlooked in a typical home tour.
When in doubt about which projects to focus on, ask your realtor! They will have the most up-to-date data and trends, plus know what appeals to buyers specific to your local housing market.