Even though the real estate business traditionally slows down at this time of year, the turn of the New Year is a great time for Realtors to encourage clients to plan yard and garden projects that will have buyers swooning in the spring.

The living landscape at a seller’s property is a significant asset that increases property value, promotes outdoor living, contributes to family and community health, supports wildlife, and provides recreation and a home playground for family and pets.

Realtors who want to help their sellers get ahead for spring should meet with their clients now to help them map out yard improvements that can boost curb appeal and attract the right buyer. Here are some things to consider from the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).

Be An Outsider: Spruce Up Your Outdoor Play & Living Rooms

  • Sketch the current yard and green spaces.
    Creating a sketch of the current yard that includes existing trees, bushes, structures and flower and gardening beds to help identify what needs to change and what is currently working in the family yard.
  • Visualize buyers in the space.
    What are the activities a target buyer will want to envision themselves doing in the family yard? Dining outdoors? Entertaining in warmer weather? Having a space for quiet reflection after work? A pet or child play zone to encourage more time outside?
  • Develop improvement and maintenance goals.
    List the play and work areas that will make your target buyer’s dreams a reality. What would enhance this space for family? What needs to be done in the yard to create a safe and welcoming place for family gatherings and for kids and pets to play? Enhanced landscaping, play structures, and areas for specific activities, such as patios, decks, outdoor kitchens and fire pits, need to be identified.
  • Determine which plants are best for the climate.
    Selecting the right plants, trees and shrubs for the climate zone will keep maintenance to a minimum for the new owners – a selling feature on your listing write-up! It also maximizes benefits to the environment, our pollinator friends, migrating birds and other wildlife. Check out the USDA’s plant hardiness zone map to determine which plants are most suitable for your area. Doing this now will make shopping at the local nursery more productive come spring.
  • Conduct a nature inventory.
    Wildlife in the yard creates a serene setting for potential buyers. So consider these critters when planning the space. What migrating birds fly overhead? What butterflies and other wildlife stop by in your neighborhood and yard? These important members of our ecosystem need places to rest and recharge and find food. Identify plants, trees and shrubs that will attract and provide habitat for wildlife.
  • Map out a timeline and plan for your yard.
    Have your sellers mark the areas where improvements and maintenance are needed, and where they might need more landscaping. Develop a timeline, based on the property needs, the climate zone and weather to identify when certain tasks should be completed. There are better times to plant than others, depending on location and goals.
  • Take stock of lawn and landscape tools.
    Don’t wait until an ice or snowstorm hits to tend to the trees in your yard. Prune your plants, trees and shrubs now for a tidy look that will also keep branches from snapping off due to snow and ice.
  • Organize the garage
    Does your client’s outdoor power equipment need to be serviced before the spring season? Or maybe they have recently moved to a home with a yard and need to purchase a lawnmower, trimmer, edger, leaf blower or other equipment. Now’s a good time to take stock of the equipment and tools so your clients will be ready for seasonal changes.
  • Decide if you need professional assistance.
    If professional assistance is required, now is the time to line up consultants and obtain bids. This will put your seller ahead of the spring rush.

For more tips, go to http://www.livinglandscapesmatter.com/landscapes-home-investment/.