According to recent research from the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), 81 percent of all Americans have a lawn, and a majority—79 percent—say that a lawn is an important feature when renting or buying a home. Respondents to the NALP survey ranked a nice size yard second behind a renovated kitchen when asked to prioritize home features.
And for millennials, a good-sized lawn was actually the No. 1 priority, with 82 percent reporting that having a lawn is important when renting or buying a home (compared to 81 percent of Gen Xers and 77 percent of baby boomers).
Apparently, respondents value lawns for good reason: they use them regularly. According to the survey:
- 47 percent report entertaining in their yards at least once a month
- 57 percent use their yards for recreation at least monthly
- 77 percent report relaxing in their yards at least once a month
- 32 percent garden in their yards multiple times a week
But Americans' love affair with green spaces doesn't stop at their garden gates. In fact, they are also enjoying grass and green spaces beyond their doorsteps. The NALP research also found that Americans visit public parks and playgrounds more often than movie theaters, pools and beaches, bowling alleys and museums.
Whether you plan to list your home soon or just want to maximize the enjoyment of your yard, the NALP recommends the following lawn maintenance best practices:
Practice "grass cycling." Allowing grass clippings to remain on the lawn helps return nitrogen and nutrients to the soil.
Water wisely. Provide your lawn a deep watering every few days, not daily. Watering your lawn too frequently often leads to shallow root growth.
Control weeds. April is the ideal time to apply pre-emergent weed control. Weeds can dominate lawns, so taking proper care now will help keep weeds under control.
Maintain your mower. It is important to keep your mower blades sharp. When left dull, blades are ineffective and can damage your lawn.
Fertilize your lawn. Adequate fertilizer provides proper nutrients that are critical for a healthy lawn. Talk to a lawn care professional to select the best product for your lawn.
Very few events in your life are going to be as exciting as purchasing a home, but first-time buyers need to remember that this process can be very complicated. Well before you make an offer on a home, you will need to carry out a few important tasks:
Narrow Down the Location
Finding a great neighborhood can be quite challenging, and you don't want to bid on a beautiful home in the wrong location. After you've narrowed your search to a few specific neighborhoods, you should try to visit those areas during different times of the day. You also need to speak with some of the homeowners and neighbors about the pros and cons of those areas.
Just about any lender that offers conventional mortgage services can pre-approve you for a mortgage loan. Once you've been approved, you will know exactly how much money you can offer and which price range you should be looking at. Many sellers are also very eager to work with buyers who have been pre-approved because closing will take just a fraction of the time. This also can help you avoid looking at homes that you know you won't be able to afford.
Write Out a List of Necessities
It might be tempting to look at luxurious homes with incredible upgrades, but the necessities should always come first. Some of the variables that you'll need to consider include the location of the home and the total number of bedrooms. You might also be interested in the age of the appliances. Buying a home with older appliances might be cheaper initially, but you could end up spending thousands to replace those gadgets in the coming years.
Establish a Moving Plan
Every step of your move doesn't need to be planned out before you make an offer, but there are a few considerations that you and your family will need to discuss. Some buyers decide to take one or more weeks off work, while others prefer to hire professionals who can do most of the hard labor. You must contact all of the utility companies, as well, to see if they offer any moving packages that allow you to quickly switch from one address to another.
Another vital step in this process is having the home inspected before you sign any paperwork. An experienced inspector will carefully look over every inch of the property and make sure that there are no dangerous issues that need to be addressed.
This was originally published on RISMedia's Housecall.
By Meghan Belnap
Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons.
There's no doubt about it, buying a home is one of the biggest - if not the biggest - decisions you will make in your lifetime, both on a financial and emotional level.
Between the stress that's often involved and the copious amounts of information you're suddenly taking in, it's no wonder that your decision-making process can get muddled during the home-search process. Be aware of these five common mistakes people often make when buying a home so that you can learn to avoid them:
Working without a real estate professional. You might be tempted to save money and go it alone, especially with the lure of websites that make it seem very simple, but buying a home is not like booking a hotel room. A good real estate agent will help you find homes you didn't know about, negotiate a better price, and handle a myriad of legalities and logistics to make sure the deal doesn't fall through.
Getting hung up on a certain style or neighborhood. All home shoppers set out with an ideal home and location in mind, which is the right approach. But sometimes your dream doesn't work with your budget or market availability, so be open minded and let your agent show you some other options. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Thinking about future resale value. Buying a home is very much about the here and now - getting your offer in fast and closing the deal. But in the frenetic pace of the hunt, don't lose sight of evaluating the resale potential of the home you're about to purchase. Remember, this is not just a home for you and your family, it's an important long-term investment for your future. Make sure it's a wise one.
Not jumping on a good find. Sometimes home shoppers pass on what turns out to be their best option simply because they saw it too early in the process. Don't overlook a gem assuming you're going to come across something better - if it checks all your boxes, go for it.
Getting hung up on cosmetics. Don't let someone's taste in design get in the way of your decision-making process. Learn to look beyond paint colors, cabinets, fixtures and other easily changeable style choices to what really matters about a home: space, structure and location.
A good rule of thumb when searching for a home? Stop, take a deep breath, and think. Or sleep on it when you can. Keeping a level head will help you avoid making a mistake you'll regret later.
Published with permission from RISMedia.
Selling can be overwhelming. You're packing everything up, trying to
make the house look pristine when all around you is what feels like
chaos. Since buyers want that great first impression, you know it's
important to declutter—often that means cleaning until your home looks
like it's never been lived in. And while you're rushing around, trying
to find a new place for your items, it may seem like an impossible task.
Take a breather—it's actually easier than you think. Here are four staging tips that are so easy they may not have even crossed your mind:
Decorate for the potential buyer. You know who this is because you were once this person! If you're in a starter home neighborhood, the buyer will likely be a younger individual or couple who is looking for more space after cramped apartment living. Pick some trendy paint colors like lilac gray or muted pastels and keep the decor minimalistic and modern. Forget decorating a kid's bedroom and opt for an office layout in the second bedroom instead.
If you're looking to downsize from a, say, four-bedroom house on a cul-de-sac, you're probably going to attract the family crowd. Emphasize your space by decorating according to their needs. Have a finished basement? Amp up the recreational feel with some movie theater loungers or make it a game room!
Think about your neighborhood as well. If you're in walking distance to a dog park, you may find that your buyer has a furry roommate. If your home is near a highly-rated school, that's also an indicator that kids may come with the package for whoever owns your home next.
Use resources. You don't have to take on this process all by yourself. Rent a storage unit so you don't have to worry about hiding away your must-keeps. This way, these items are already neatly packed away and ready for your new home, and they won't get in the way of a buyer who isn't looking to see how bad your shopping addiction is.
Additionally, hire a cleaning company. You can find some relatively affordable options, and this will help you stay stress-free throughout the process. Once it's clean, all you have to worry about is keeping it that way!
Focus on the small accessories. Take a tour of your own home, but with fresh eyes. What do you see that stands out as grungy, old and just a complete turn-off? This can be anything from a sticky, splattered garbage bin that needs a good cleaning to your shower curtain which has a dense layer of soap scum that's going to scare even the bravest buyers away. Replace any small accessories that won't cost you a fortune, and clean anything that can look like new with some TLC.
Use your nose. Again, take a tour of your home, but this time focus on what you're smelling. A better option might be to find a friend or family member who can volunteer to do this for you—someone who doesn't live with you or isn't over all the time. Identify the sources of odor in your home and figure out a solution. The last thing you want is for a buyer to come in and quickly be hit by an unpleasant smell.
The cleaning and decluttering should help with this, but there are other things you can do to ensure your home is a breath of fresh air:
Staging can be easy if you just put yourself in the buyer's shoes. It
is, however, more than just moving around furniture and putting away the
excess items. Think back to the tour you took yourself before buying
this home. What stood out to you—both good and bad? Think about how it
all impacts the senses. Of course, trends change, but the overall
feeling of clean and tidy is always the first thing people notice. And
customizing your home with some easy staging tricks can make a big
This was originally published on RISMedia's Housecall.
Liz Dominguez is RISMedia's associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.