Haus Schwatz: Cati's DC Real Estate


How NOT To Increase the Curb Appeal Of Your Home

We all know that trees, shrubs and ornamental plants can beautify a house and certainly increase its curb appeal. Usually, that is. There are some, however, that don’t help, like when they’ve grown to completely obscure an attractive façade, or when their roots have started to invade the foundation of the home like a malicious tumor, bringing in moisture and threatening the substance of the whole structure.

Tree growing in chimney

The "tree" in the chimney here, right at the front of a house I just showed, is probably not a serious threat.  But it's on a beautiful old house on a beautiful block in a great neighborhood.  It’s an expensive house as well, with gracious proportions and a top dollar asking price. When we looked at old pictures from a previous sale of the same property a couple of years ago, my buyer immediately discovered the same plant crowning up there– just a little smaller at the time.

Most good agents will have a thorough walk-through with their sellers before a house goes on the market. They will explain how prospective buyers will see the place, what kind of features appeal to a wide range of buyers, and what will be a red flag for many of them. Part of the staging process—no matter how much money the seller is willing or able to spend—should always be a critical look at maintenance issues. Weeds in the gutters, cracked window panes or a little rotten wood on a deck might be harmless in the specific home, but they will have a buyer wonder what other, invisible problems have not been taken care of. Or they will outright be scary and make the buyer run.

That said, of course it's up to the sellers to take their agent's advice or to ignore it.

Recently, I wrote about the importance of regular fireplace and chimney maintenance....  Well, let’s not go there. Let’s just say, some trees clearly take away from the beauty of a property.

© 2012, Catarina Bannier


Comment balloon 5 commentsCatarina Bannier • July 31 2008 01:28PM


The agent may very well have spoken with the seller about the tree in the chimney. The agent may care a whole lot about how the house presents. But the agent doesn't own the home, the seller does, and if they won't do anything about it, the only thing the agent can do is to make sure it is priced correctly for the condition it is in, or walk away from the listing.

Posted by Kelly Sibilsky (Licensed Through Referral Connection, LTD.) over 10 years ago

Hi Kelly--thanks for pointing this out!  You instantly make me feel guilty; maybe that poor listing agent is totally frustrated with them!  (I'll go back right away and change the text a bit to reflect this.)  It was just funny that the previous people didn't bother, either.  I'd think a chimney sweep could take care of the thing in a second...

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 10 years ago

I didn't think you meant it that way, but sometimes I feel we agents get blamed for things that are totally out of our control (dirty carpet, dishes in a sellers sink, ugly furniture...)

Have a great weekend! :)

Posted by Kelly Sibilsky (Licensed Through Referral Connection, LTD.) over 10 years ago

Hi Catarina...A pre-listing home inspection would be very handy in a case like this.  It probably is good for any home that has a few (and it could be very few) years on it.

Everyone is so busy that regular maintenance is not always on people's minds.  Of course, that is a different issue than trees growing out of the chimney.


Posted by Kate Elim, Realtor 540-226-1964, Selling Homes & Land a (Dockside Realty) over 10 years ago

Hi Kate, yes, that would be a great idea, and it's something I suggest to sellers when there are items that are in questionable shape.  I have, however, found that few are open to the idea.  They are afraid there would be additional things found to disclose, and they think that the buyers will have their own inspection anyway.  Oh, well.

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 10 years ago