Allen Norwood

Selling? ‘No red mulch’ or silk flowers, please

If you’re selling your house, don’t go overboard with the wrong kind of curb appeal. A well-tended lawn and colorful plantings will please the eyes of prospective buyers – but you don’t want to come across as a Kardashian.

Realtor Leigh Brown laughs when she says that, then explains: Kim and Kanye are among the celebrities who’ve had public scorn heaped on them for maintaining lush – thirsty – lawns, when more responsible folks have cut back on irrigation.

The drought is a great equalizer, Brown said. “Every house looks a little crunchy now. (Buyers) will understand that if they’re reasonable people. If not, they’re not reasonable people.”

If you’re selling, and refreshing your landscape, choose plants and flowers that you can maintain with a reasonable amount of time, work – and water. Don’t plant colorful annuals, only to ignore them until they die. An empty planter is better than one with withered impatiens and marigolds, Brown said.

“If you can’t manage to keep it looking as good as it did when you brought it home, don’t plant it.”

Brown, who’s with Re/Max Executive Realty in Concord, produces online video commentary for Inman News, a top real estate industry site. She’s popular among her peers because she shares strong opinions, and does it colorfully.

Recently, she had stuff to say about those who overwater their lawns in the interest of curb appeal – and waste water on sidewalks, driveways and streets.

So, how do sellers create appeal without all that watering?

Well, she said: “No silk flowers!”

Don’t choose fake flowers because you worry that you’ll be unable to maintain the real ones. That will create a first impression from the curb, too – and it might be the wrong one.

Indeed, Brown said, she has seen sellers, perhaps prompted by something they saw on TV, add artificial flowers to their homes’ entrances. “People say, ‘Oh, I need flowers, and I don’t have to water these.’’

But prospective buyers who see fake flowers on the outside might assume that you’ve cut the same sort of corners on the inside. They might even lose interest in peeking inside. “They make assumptions,” Brown said, “and making assumptions is not necessarily a good thing.”

Fresh pine needles and mulch are better than dead plants or fake plants, she said. (But please, “No red mulch!”)

Painting the front door is always a good way to add curb appeal – and there’s no watering. You’ll find lots of online tips about choosing the right color and completing the project, as I’ve written before. Just Google “painting a front door” and choose a source you trust.

Brown agrees, and shares advice to keep you from agonizing over door color. Red and black are always good choices. You can hardly ever go wrong with red – except on brick houses. Choose black for front doors on brick houses, because red can clash with some brick colors.

Remove all the door hardware before you paint, and polish or update it as needed.

If you absolutely must grab a hose in the interest of curb appeal, Brown said – attach it to a power washer.

Power washing your sidewalk, driveway and siding to remove mildew and other stains will brighten the place up. Just be very careful to use the proper tip and technique for the surface you’re cleaning, following the manufacturer’s instructions, and heed safety rules.

Here’s another trick: “Sprinkle the lawn five minutes before the showing,” she said. “It’ll sparkle.”

Allen Norwood: