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  #1  
Old 09-21-2003, 10:46 AM
Matt Meeks Matt Meeks is offline
 
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I'm planning on replacing my lawn within the next 2 weeks. The current lawn is in a horrible state due to years and years of neglect from previous owners and having soil that is pretty much solid clay, on top of drought conditions and local watering restrictions (I live in Denver). Replacing the lawn is a slam dunk-the estimate is for about $1600 and even though I might not get that much back when I sell the house (probably within the next 2 years) I know that it would be tough to sell my house with the lawn in the state it's in. At the same time, I asked for a bid on a sprinkler system and it came back at about $1900. My question is, will it add to the resale value, and if so, about how much? I'm thinking that even if I can't recover much of that dollar-wise, it will make it easier to sell the house, so it might be worth the expense anyway, but i'm not sure...
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Old 09-21-2003, 11:10 AM
Restrain Restrain is offline
 
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This is a general answer, not one specific to Denver.

When you're selling a home, drive-up appeal is the first thing the buyer sees. An attractive lawn, well-kept landscaping, ease of maintenace of the lawn, these all play into the emotion of buying a home. Remember, buying a home is an emotional decision on many levels for the typical buyer.

So, while the sprinkler system may not directly contribute to value, the fact that the lawn will be well-established, the landscaping attractive, and the fact that the owner doesn't have to haul around hoses but can simply be sure the timer turns on the sprinkler at 1 am, this will help you sell the home better, as well as taking the burden off of you trying to get the new lawn established.

Hope this helps.

Roger Strahan, IFA
  #3  
Old 09-21-2003, 11:34 AM
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Caterina Platt Caterina Platt is offline
 
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Matt,

There are a couple appraisers on this board from the Denver market. Your question would best be answered by one familiar with that specific market area.

Generally, landscaping as a whole, most definitely adds value and curb appeal. From what I remember of most Denver neighborhoods (lived there in the late 80's/early 90's), even the most affordable areas were relatively well kept and manicured. The lack of landscaping or poor condition of existing, would generally produce an extended marketing time and/or discount to your home's value if you're in the city or subdivision type situation. Your local appraiser will be able to answer this more specifically. If you're in the mountain outlying acreage areas, or agricultural areas, the market may be much less sensitive to formal landscaping.

In my market, we have pretty stringent water restrictions as well. What buyer's are seeming to appreciate most are minimal care and minimal maintenance cost plans, yet still some resemblance of green and inviting. From your post, I'm not sure if this lawn project is front, rear, or both yards.

Being an appraiser with horticulture/landscape background, this is how I'd approach the situation: Figure out which areas of your yard are private/family use, and which are public display. Usually, this means front yard (public display), and back yard (family use). Most don't have the barbeque and volley ball action in the front yard, it's really for your neighbors and curb appeal. In place of the high water consumption grass, could you install a low growing ground cover? They don't require mowing (low maintenance) and you may find something that will take to your soil without major conditioning. The back yard would probably still be best to have a good size useable lawn area for recreation.

In any case, I'd install the bubblers, sprinklers, or drip irrigation systems. I can't usually extract a measureable difference for irrigation systems alone, but.......what I have noticed is that these yards are typically much more attractive as a whole. We are basically lazy creatures. If it's easy, and often times automatic, the yard gets watered more thoroughly and regularly. Easy care landscaping is a good selling point and attractive landscaping definitely helps value in my market.

There is also the value in use vs. value in exchange to consider. For $1900 spread out over the next two years, if all you had to do is turn a valve, or watch the sprinklers come on by themselves via the timer, would it be worth it to you? Could you make better use of the time rather than babysitting the hose and sprinkler?
  #4  
Old 09-21-2003, 04:02 PM
Matt Meeks Matt Meeks is offline
 
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Thanks for your feedback!

I live in a city neighborhood, and while my lawn isn't the worst on the block, it's not too far from it. Part of my consideration is also that my neighbors are going to be selling their house soon, and I don't want to negatively impact the value of their home, since the more they sell theirs for, the better it is for me as well when it comes time to sell my house.

It seems to me that with the possibility of water restrictions, a sprinkler system would be highly desirable. I never remember that it's my day to water until it's too late, so I end up not watering as much as I should, and this season the restriction was for no more than 15 minutes per zone, so it was really a hassle to keep moving hose around every 15 minutes. But that's just my opinion, i'm not sure how potential buyers would feel.
  #5  
Old 09-21-2003, 04:33 PM
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Dee Dee Dee Dee is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Matt Meeks@Sep 21 2003, 02:02 PM
Part of my consideration is also that my neighbors are going to be selling their house soon, and I don't want to negatively impact the value of their home, since the more they sell theirs for, the better it is for me as well when it comes time to sell my house.
Hi Matt,
I wouldn't hesitate to get a sprinkler system, especially if they're typical in your neighborhood. Though you may not see a dollar-for-dollar return on your investment, these types of improvements usually have a nice uplifting effect on the values along your street if others decide to follow suit.
The other advantage is convenience. I used to live in an older neighborhood in the 'burbs of Littleton and dragged around a sprinkler for about 5 years before I got wise. I had no idea what I'd been missing....talk about convenient!
You may also want to consider some xeriscaping to cut back on those nasty water bills.
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  #6  
Old 09-21-2003, 05:22 PM
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Farm Gal Farm Gal is offline
 
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Matt:

If I lived there where water is going to be an increasingly touchy issues and was a bit lax about watering... I'd invest in some planned landscaping that was xeri-scape or minimal water and effort for much of that 'public' area Caterina desribes... Leave a patch o green with those prinklers but write the rest off your list of 'things to do'. I installed a well mulched and dripline fed system in my Mother-in-laws front yard in a 'problem area' for less than she used to pay to try to keep the grass alive!

(I am also a Ooopps the lawn died again kinda person... I KNOW what you mean about 'foregetting')

A few artfully applied 'special' grasses and low water use shrubs, surrounded by properly installed mulch or rocks is a big plus visually and can really add to the curb appeal... With regard to your neighbors pending sale... if your installation is not VISIBLY left drag on forever (aged sticks laying on dead earth is a no-no) it will probabaly aid his/her sale as it implies neighborhood upgrading... which beats the heck out of "Naaah, I don't water my lawn" as visual appeal :P .
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  #7  
Old 09-21-2003, 05:47 PM
Matt Meeks Matt Meeks is offline
 
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We've thought about doing some xeriscaping, but i'm a little hesitant for a couple reasons. One is that There's only one house with any xeriscaping of any significance within about a 5 block radius, so it would feel a little out of character with the neighborhood. Secondly, I've been checking out xeriscaping for a few years now, and I've noticed that it's pretty rare to see non-professionally done xeriscaping that actually looks good-it mostly ends up looking like a big mess. I've tried my hand at landscape design and frankly, it's a struggle for me-I get too caught up in matching plant types and stuff, so I'd have to hire a landscape designer for me to be happy with it. In addition, my wife and I are expecting our first baby in April, so my time is pretty limited and will become more so in the coming months, so I don't have a lot of time to put into designing and building xeriscape areas. My lawn is very flat and boring, and the successful xeriscapes I've seen have a lot more dimension, so we're talking about bringing in large rocks and heavy equipment in order to get something that would be worthwhile, and frankly, I think it would cost more to do that than to put in the grass, plus it takes 2-3 years for xeriscaping to mature and look halfway decent. If I drop sod on the lawn, it'll look fantastic in a few weeks.

If all I had to do was deal with the lawn, I'd probably make an attempt at xeriscaping at least part of it, but in order to get ready for the new addition to the family, I need to remodel the room on the back of the house to put the office in there (I work from home), the 2nd bedroom (currently the office, soon to be the nursery) the kitchen (old, plywood cabinets, no dishwasher, nasty linoleum tile) and possibly the bathroom, so the less brain damage I can get away with on the lawn, the better.
  #8  
Old 09-22-2003, 11:18 AM
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Mike Garrett, RAA Mike Garrett, RAA is offline
 
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Matt...

I am in Colorado Springs. Nearly all new homes have sprinkler systems...seems buyers find this a needed option, especially due to water restrictions. If you are going to replace the sod adding a sprinkler system is logical.

Marketability....that is what you want to accomplish when you are ready to sell your home. How will the house compare with others the buyers will be considering? If all of the homes in the area have sprinkler systems and yours doesn't, yours will most likely sell for less and take longer to sell unless you substantially reduce the price.

Will you be able to recover a $3500 investment in just two years? Maybe, maybe not. Remember you will have two years of the use of the new lawn and sprinkler system too. If it was me.....I would do it so when I am ready to sell my yard could possibly be the nicest on the block. Curb appeal is very important.

I wish you well!

Mike Garrett, CRB, RAA, GRI
Real Estate Appraiser (23+ years)
Real Estate Broker (35+ years)
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  #9  
Old 09-23-2003, 09:53 AM
Ted Martin Ted Martin is offline
 
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Are sprinkler systems the norm in the immediate area? If potential buyers expect a sprinkler system then you are much more likely to get your costs back. If only a few of the competing properties have them then most buyers probably would consider it a nice amenity, but one they could either take or leave and likely would more heavily discount the cost of installation. In some of our more upscale markets buyers expect sprinklers and factor in the cost to install if a home doesn't have one. While in other markets I'm sure the thoughts of the buyers are more along the line "Why would I want to water the lawn, I'ld just have to mow it." Possibly that is the key! If the homeowners hire all the yard work done in the neighborhood they want a sprinker, if they have to mow thier own lawn they don't.
  #10  
Old 09-23-2003, 02:22 PM
Matt Meeks Matt Meeks is offline
 
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some, but not many, home around here have sprinkler systems. my neighbor on one side does have one. the neighbor on the other side does not, and has really let her yard go. It's not as bad as mine is currently, but it's very brown with a few weeds coming up. There are a couple rental properties on the block with pretty atrocious lawns, so it's not like there's a tremendous amount of peer pressure on our block to have the perfect lawn, but right now my house doesn't have much curb appeal because of the lawn (and a couple other things that will be fixed). The back yard could be be pretty nice-it has privacy fence all around it, with a huge tree that covers most of the yard, but the lawn is basically a giant patch of very hard clay, unless it rains, in which case it's mud. If the back lawn were nicer, it would be a great place to sit in the evenings.

I'm totally convinced that it's worth the $1600 to install new sod-I know that I would lose that much in resale value if I don't, plus I'll have a much harder time selling the house. Right now, i'm mostly convinced that a sprinkler system would be worth it too, if for no other reason than that it will help protect the investment of replacing the sod. Also, in the spring, once the baby is here, I'll have even less time to deal with watering, etc., so it might be worth it for that alone.

The way the house and yard sit, there are 5 sprinkler zones, so in order to water the lawn you have to move the sprinkler that many times. In addition, each zone is a different size and shape, so you need at least 3 different sprinkler to do it, and you have to water, change the sprinkler, move it, water, change the sprinker, move it, etc.

I would certainly say that no one would expect the house to have a sprinkler system, and I doubt that anyone in this neighborhood would hire someone else to mow their lawn, unless it's the teenager next door or something like that.

My house is really small-938 square feet, with a 2200 s.f. yard. I'm guessing that it would be surprising if a couple wanted to buy the house, unless perhaps they were never planning on having children, or perhaps retired. It would more likely be a single person, and/or a retired person, so I'm thinking that a sprinkler system would be a nice amenity since it would reduce the workload for yard maintenance that much more. It's true that some people will just let the lawn go, so they don't have to mow, but i don't want to limit the appeal of the house to just those people.
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