Interview with a local real estate expert: How a healthy lawn improves your curb appeal while selling

Brendon Willis
Curb appeal interview Jimmy Hughes

We recently interviewed Jimmy Hughes, Broker Owner of JMR Realty Oklahoma. Jimmy works with both buyers and sellers, and has listed over 67 properties to date since opening his brokerage in early 2021. Jimmy shares his expertise on selling a home in OKC, and why proper lawn maintenance is a must.

Let’s talk about lawn care while selling your home. Why should a seller care about this?

It’s absolutely true that when potential home buyers pull up to the house, they’re already mentally deciding whether they want to live there. The lawn often consumes most of the space outside. If it has a lot of bare spots, weeds, and looks generally unkempt then it casts a really negative first impression to the buyer. It also screams “I need work” and looks like an extra hassle to take care of during an already stressful time to buyers. 

Do you recommend to clients that they invest in landscaping or lawn care or both? 

I see this as two sides of the same coin. They’re both needed in order to have strong curb appeal to potential buyers. That being said, sometimes even the most basic landscaping – as long as it’s very tidy – can have a positive effect on a prospective buyer. However, no amount of high-dollar landscaping can make up for poor lawn maintenance.

Comparing curb appeal two lawns

Winters in Oklahoma aren’t the prettiest. What can sellers do to improve their curb appeal?

Bermuda grass in Oklahoma goes dormant when cooler weather appears, so most home buyers are used to seeing brown grass through the winter months. However, many weeds do not go dormant, so this time period can actually highlight a weed control problem in the yard that might not have been as noticeable when the Bermuda was green.

Additionally, weeds in the flower bed can be especially noticeable during this time. I recommend weeding flower beds and applying fresh mulch. If the exterior of your home is white or a lighter shade, power-washing any dirt off can be a benefit as well. A preventative maintenance program with a professional lawn care company can be an efficient and productive route to keep weeds out of the lawn. 

Does lawn condition affect the home’s appraisal value? 

I’ve been really fortunate to work with sellers who are motivated to have their home show in the best light possible. I think that most homeowners today understand the importance of curb appeal and how it will affect the selling process. While I haven’t outright seen lawn conditions negatively affect the appraisal process or a home’s value, I can definitely see how it might set a negative tone right off the bat for both an appraiser and a buyer. Clearly, a seller would naturally want to avoid this and work on having a healthy lawn and colorful flowers to set the right tone for a potential home buyer.

Fresh mulch and curb appeal landscaping

What should home sellers do first when they know they are getting ready to list their home? 

When you know you want to sell, naturally most people start putting together a list of things they need to work on around the house. Talking with a real estate agent first can help you prioritize your to-do list, as they’ll be able to help direct you to spend your time on areas that will net the biggest return and that they know buyers and home inspectors will be interested in.

It’s important to make sure your home is in good structural shape and that the basic elements work (heating and cooling, appliances, roof, no termites, etc.) but also to address the exterior. Working with a lawn care service, they can recommend a treatment plan even if it’s almost fall. Obviously, the more heads-up you can provide, the more noticeable your results will be. 

What else should sellers consider when they think about their lawn and curb appeal?

Consider your neighborhood and what the other homeowners are doing. If your home is in an area with a lot of mature trees, then the expectations for your lawn care and curb appeal may look different than if you live in a “starter home” neighborhood.

Also, it’s important to look at other homes nearby your neighborhood that are for sale. Home buyers will often want to focus on certain neighborhoods or areas to prioritize their home search. This basically means that the other homes in your neighborhood are your competitors. While features on the inside might be the ultimate deciding factor, you want your home to stand out from the get-go to put your home in a higher ranking in the mind of the buyer. 

The last piece of advice I can share is to consider what buyers are thinking. If a potential buyer drives up and they see a lawn that is in need of some serious love, they’re thinking: “If the homeowner isn’t spending money to upkeep the yard, then what else are they cutting corners on inside the house for upkeep?”

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