Pull up to someone's house, and what's one of the first things that catches the eye? The yard, right? (Or lack thereof.) If caring for the yard isn't one of your priorities, it may make your house harder to sell when the time comes. After all, strong curb appeal is essential to selling a house: It sells more than half the homes on the market [source: Heavens]. If your home doesn't have any, that may mean low offers -- or no offers at all.
An old shed or a rotting fence also could affect your home's value, as could having too many artificial installations around your yard, like that funny, little garden gnome. Even elements such as pools, ponds and waterfalls could decrease the value of your house, especially for buyers with small children or for green thumb types who are looking forward to developing a new yard for themselves.
Also, just like clothes and cars, plants come and go in trends. What was all the rage a few years ago may make buyers hesitate, so it could be worth your time to look into what's currently popular in landscaping. Generally speaking, people may be looking to avoid quick-growing, high-maintenance plants, those that make a mess and could draw complaints from neighbors, and greenery that could damage masonry and other home components.
Lastly, while many homeowners have past pets slowly converting into fertilizer in the backyard, buyers usually are not thrilled at the thought of harboring your dead cat, dog, hamster or rabbit. Removing any grave markers would be prudent.
If your yard made a poor first impression on potential buyers, did the outside of your house make up for it? On the next page, we'll dig deeper into curb appeal.