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Cover story: New lawn can mean more green at sale
“Spring hasn’t really arrived until you are awakened by the first lawn mower.”
This anonymous, but timely, quotation may spur area homeowners to think about their own lawns, particularly if they intend to put their house on the market. Resodding the entire front lawn is a standard final act of home improvement in numerous real estate “flipping” cable shows. But is this a smart investment - and if so, what is involved in terms of time, money and maintenance?
A resodding project typically is priced by the square foot, ranging anywhere from 65 cents to $2 per square foot, including prepping the lawn by grading it and loosening the top soil and then rolling the fresh sod.
Doug Del Gandio, president of Four Seasons Landscaping in Damascus, estimated that the average size of Washington suburban lawn is around 400 square feet, putting the cost of a resodding project somewhere between $260 and $800.
A Washington row-house lawn is typically only 100 to 200 square feet, so that would put the price range at $65 to $400. Further out from the city, residential lawns are commonly are up to 2,000 square feet, increasing the cost of the resodding project to up to $4,000.
“Sod can even run as little as 35 cents a square foot,” explained John Shorb, president of John Shorb Landscaping in Kensington, qualifying that that low cost is only for massive lawns. “The bigger the lawn, the lower the unit price because of efficiencies of scale.”
Both landscapers agreed that resodding is a sound investment when selling a house.
“Sod is an inexpensive way to dress up the front of the house,” Mr. Del Gandio said. “What’s $1,000 when you’re selling a half-million-dollar house? It’s a tiny percentage.”
Mr. Shorb agreed. “Instant green is always good,” he said.
His wife, Ellie Shorb, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Chevy Chase, pointed out that fresh sod shows well in photos.
“Eighty to 90 percent of buyers are looking at houses online,” she said, citing a recent statistic put out by the National Association of Realtors, and adding that buyers will then drive by the houses they’ve seen on the Internet. “The lawn makes the first impression. If people don’t like what they see, they’ll drive by and won’t even come into the house.”
Mehmet Halici, an associate broker with Weichert, Realtors in Bethesda, agreed that the front lawn is important, especially at this time of year.
“Perception is reality - that’s why exterior landscaping is so crucial,” he said. “If the lawn is manicured and there’s mulch and flowers - all of this says that the current owners are taking care of their property. If the exterior is taken care of, the buyers will think the interior has also been taken care of.”
Lyric Turner, president of Red House Staging & Interiors in the District, said springtime is when buyers are most tuned in to landscaping.
“With the spring, everyone is looking for that fresh, green look; and it is appealing when a property has that aesthetically pleasing yard that demonstrates the best of spring,” she said. “Of course, the summertime is important as well since a brown lawn in the summer definitely stands out negatively amongst its peers versus in the winter where all lawns can get away with looking the same.”
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