Monday, February 20, 2017

A House with Gardens

It is tough to sell a house with gardens. That's the opposite of what you'd think -- a home surrounded by beauty is so attractive and people who visit are so impressed with the shade and color and privacy and places to rest and views to see.

But they don't want to buy it.

That's a reality I have to face. All my effort to turn a bare lot into something lovely in every season lowers the selling price.

"Oh, but just the right buyer will want the amazing spaces you have created here. Someone else who gardens will value this highly and want it". Well, I hope so.

But a true gardener doesn't want someone else's vision. They'll want acreage and good soil and a nice location to create their own gardens.

And non-gardeners don't want the work. Particularly in this location. We abut another neighborhood of similar homes that is a condo association. The homes are freestanding but homeowners don't plow in winter or mow in summer. The outside is completely maintained in their fees.

The homes on my street look exactly the same and in fact were built by the same builder at the same time, but we maintain our own yards. Jim mows and I garden, but our immediate neighbors hire all their yard maintenance out. Most homes around us have basic shrubbery and a back patio and the phone number of a landscape maintenance company.

Home buyers who like gardens are looking in the more outlying suburbs or rural towns. Buyers looking in this area for our kind of home are condo shoppers who want the association to do all the yard work. Or they'll end up hiring it out as our neighbors do.

When we bought here 13 years ago, that's exactly what we were looking for. And then I retired and I discovered we had a blank lot and I got a book at the library on horticulture, and never looked back. Jim bought a John Deere tractor mower and started mowing the lawn and he was hooked as well.

New buyers will want the benefits we originally wanted too when we moved here. Realtors will advise us to lower our price to attract someone who will accept the evident maintenance issues if the deal is good enough.

Only if the deal is good enough.

It's so counterintuitive -- it feels like we should add a premium and advertise the beautiful surroundings, but the real estate articles I have read extensively say gardens add no value, and realtors in this area actually advise discounting the price to get clients to even look at the place.

I need to overcome resentment about needing to lower our price to attract buyers to a place that is leagues above the rest of the neighborhood in aesthetics. I need to remember that for 13 years this place has given me such joy. I can't put a price on that, and I'll accept that I've actually paid for the experience, both in outlays over the years to create my gardens and in a hit to the value of our real estate.

I can live with that.

Do you know anyone who wants to buy a house with a half acre of borders, trees and shrubs?


  1. Your blog post actually makes me sad. I found your blog simply by researching trees and loving how you planted your lot. I think the one post I read that I have never forgotten was the one where you took a tree out of its pot and it gave a sigh of relief at that. Anyway, I hope you find a buyer who will love what you have done there and appreciate what all you have accomplished.

    1. Thanks for the lovely comment, sallysmom! We'll be here for a while yet -- moving (or even putting the house on the market) is not imminent, so I'll be here for a while yet. I'm so glad you enjoyed what I wrote about releasing that first tree I ever planted from its pot -- it is still a vivid memory to me, and the reason I started planting things : )

  2. I'm also a bit sad - I've so enjoyed witnessing your garden via your posts. The real estate aspect is also very interesting - I've often wondered what would happen if we moved. I can't imagine anyone would jump at the maintenance required of maintaining a previous owner's flower beds. Perhaps that's one way to negotiate taking all/many of your plants with you, though I realize this isn't practical for your situation for many reasons.

    1. Thanks, Kathryn. Most of my gardens are now maturing trees and shrubs, not so many flowers, so I will stress the "less care" feature of that. No plants will be coming with me -- just my thousands of pictures and too too many blog posts in order to remember everything by!