You never get second chance to make first impression

North Devon Gazette

Good fences, it is said, make good neighbours…and sitting here in the wake of Storm Eunice and surveying the damage wreaked on my garden fences, I can well understand the sentiment! Â

And, although it’s a little earlier in the year than is customary to turn one’s mind to gardening, it brought to mind the impact gardens and outside spaces in general can have on the sale ability of a property. Â

When considering a garden from a marketing point of view, sellers often focus on the green-ness of the lawn and the colour of the flower beds, but these are pretty transitory things and any non-green fingered buyers will most likely be eyeing the flora and quietly calculating the cost of replacing the lot with patio. Â

No, experience has shown that the things that really matter to most would-be buyers are that outside spaces are well maintained and offer reasonable privacy and seclusion.Â

 Of course, most would prefer a south-facing outlook with a view over the sea or rolling countryside but, as arranging that is beyond the scope of the average gardener, we’ll stick within the realms of what is possible!Â

Taking the logical approach that most potential buyers will arrive at the front of the property, let’s consider the front garden first. Gates that do not open, swing and latch properly should be attended to as a priority, as should lifted or uneven slabs along a pathway that could be a trip hazard. Â

If there is a front lawn, keeping it in trim makes obvious sense but removing weeds growing along a path or driveway will do more to add to a sense of a property that is looked after. Â

Unless your driveway is particularly capacious, I would suggest keeping it as free of cars as possible, so that buyers can pull easily onto a drive and park without manoeuvring, even if it means parking one’s own car around the corner for the duration of a viewing. As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression!Â

Moving to the rear garden, the same basic rules apply, and harking back to our opening sentence, the boundaries are the first places to look at. If you have hedge boundaries, make sure they are well trimmed and tidy, and if the garden is fenced, make sure that the fences are in good order, with no loose panels. Â

Also, an excellent investment with panel fences is to treat or paint them prior to selling, so that they look crisp and ready to give years more service. I firmly believe that in our increasingly pressurized world, even in a haven of tranquillity like North Devon, buyers are starting to prioritise properties where outside spaces offer privacy. Â

Of course, in the brief window before offering a property for sale, it’s impossible to plant a screen of trees or hedges, but simple steps, such as adding trellis panels to the top of a fence, can significantly improve the feeling of privacy in a garden. Â

Taking steps to improve your outside space is not limited to those properties with green acres. The Victorian (and older) town cottages that are such a feature of Barnstaple, Bideford, Ilfracombe and Torrington have usually been extended to the rear, sometimes more than once and, as a result, usually offer limited outside space.Â

However, even the most unpromising courtyard can be transformed with a coat of bright paint to the walls, some pots or small troughs of plants and the effect of a strategically placed mirror to create the illusion of extra space can be quite profound. Presented with a small table and a couple of chairs, these spaces can be genuinely inviting.Â

In conclusion, gardens, both great and small, can be made into a real asset for your property – with a little thought, effort and imagination.

John Smale & Co.Â