Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Curb Appeal

Bear with me on this one - I promise I will get to the title eventually.

Last Saturday Bob's family and I threw him a surprise birthday party. He walked in thinking he was going to a "Jack and Jill" shower, complete with a gift certificate all prettily wrapped and his leek pesto. The bridal shower would have been for our niece, Christine. He consented to go if he could make his pesto.

You remember Saturday - 20 to 40 mph wind, with gusts to 60? Temperatures in the 30s with higher elevations getting snow? We were definitely in the wind tunnel at my sister-in-law's, and we certainly did see snow that evening. She had to break off from decorating to secure their screened gazebo from flying away to Kansas.

Most of us stayed in the house, warmed by their pellet stove and the throngs of old friends and relatives who showed up to surprise Bob. The rest of the crew went out to the barn, transformed that night into the Bob-aloo Cafe, complete with bar and tables and ambient (little Christmas lights) lighting. It drew everyone out there to see it - not that everyone stayed in the cold!

But now we get to the curb appeal. It's not talked about as much these days. The condition and price of a home will sell it faster. Landscaping is something that can be done afterwards, it seems. But it is still so very, very important. My in-law's place is an old farmhouse - a very old, meandering farmhouse. But it has a pond, trails, garden, gazebo, and the old barn. The kids play in an open field behind the house, a hot tub resides on the rear deck, a pool overlooks the Marcellus hills. Even when the snow and sleet came down, the place spoke of summer parties and full winter crosscountry-skiing.

They aren't rich by any means, but they took what they had and made it a fun place to be over the 20 or so years they've lived there. They aren't selling either.

A couple weeks ago the price of a house in Skaneateles returned to the market with a $10,000 increase. The list agent read about my comments in my update blog and e-mailed me that the owner had done extensive landscaping, hence the higher price. I honestly haven't been that way to see it, but with its location I can imagine it was probably money well spent because the house depends on its location - and incredible views. It will be interesting to see if anything comes of it.

Money these days is spent on granite and new appliances, interior painting and yes, staging. As well it should be! But not to be forgotten -the outside is the first introduction to a home - it should be welcoming and set the tone for the interior. As I do my open house this Sunday (1:00 to 3:00) up on Snowberry in Camillus I know the house will show better and bring more smiles because the trees and flowers are in bloom. The bushes and plantings were a labor of love, just as my in-laws have labored and will continue to love their home.