Buyer Beware: Dont be Instantly Charmed by Curb Appeal

by : Ed Kirkland

You may have heard the familiar real estate jargon of, "curb appeal". There's so much information out there on how to enhance your curb appeal to attract buyers. But there's probably much less pertinent info on how to truly assess what is "good" curb appeal, from a buyers perspective. As a buyer although curb appeal might draw you in to go view a home, it's important not to get swept away by the pretty picture. Just as you would have the structure of house inspected, you'll also want to assess the landscaping in a similar way.

Begin by investigating the general health of the plants on the property. Even if you're not an arborist, there are tell tales signs such as wilting, brown or dry crispy leaves that indicate a plant is suffering. Also look for fungus or mushrooms at the base of trees, which can be a sign of poor tree health. Also with trees, you'll want to look into the placement of the tree limbs. Make sure limbs aren't obstructing power lines or the chimney. If there are such complications, assess how much pruning you'll need to do to repair the problem and whether or not such a prune will drastically effect the health or the look of the tree.

Likewise you'll want to ensure that foliage isn't too close to the home's exterior. Such a situation can provide an ideal shelter for rodents and insector delicados to hide from predators, or to slip into the home. Also shrubs can rub up against the house and cause damage to the siding. For all these reasons, plants, trees and shrubs should all be a good distance from the home's exterior.

It's equally important to look for problems underfoot- for nasty root systems that may not be initially visible. You can sometimes see evidence of this through cracks in the sidewalks or driveway, where roots have cracked through the concrete. A depression in the yard, could be the sign of a leaking sewer line due to root interference. These are all things to keep an eye out for- right from your first walk through.

In terms of the elements that make up any home's landscaping, you'll want to assess not only their form and condition, but also their function. What purpose do they serve? Are they merely decorative space filler, or do some aspects provide shade where needed? Is the deck placed in a spot that is advantageous to the sun, or to a particular view, or does it seem like a project slapped together without much thought? Are there areas that are landscaped for sitting, for gardening or for other particular purposes? As best you can, imagine yourself making use of the different areas outside, and truly decide how much of the designed space, has been designed with function in mind.

Assess how the house is situated on the lot. You don't want rainfall to be able to follow a downward slop toward the foundation. This could spell out potential flooding- something that is best to avoid all together.

Although a deck is not a living component of the landscaping it's equally important to assess its value and construction. A deck is often one of those DIY projects, so you'll want to ensure it was done right. Make sure it's fastened correctly to the house and is well supported. A good deck should have a railing for people to hang onto and balusters should be no more than 4 inches apart.

Again, it's important as a buyer to know the difference between curb appeal and "good" curb appeal.