Expert Tips for Creating a Beautiful Landscape


By Lisa Doyle with J. Rockcliff Realtors

Serving all your Real Estate needs

It may still be cold outside, but homeowners are already dreaming of creating beautiful garden settings around their homes come spring.  Landscaping success does not have to be hit or miss, and if it has been for you, it may be time to call in a professional landscape designer. 

Why? Because in the long run, hiring a landscape designer can cost less than doing it yourself.  You will get a double design created right the first time, saving you the cost of repeated tries at getting it right or planting the wrong plants in the wrong spots. 

Plus, a high-quality landscape increases home sale prices up to 10.8 percent, compared to a home with a simply average landscape, according to the Journal of Environmental Horticulture.

Here are some tips from professional landscape designers to create your dream garden.

First, consider your space and any issues that it has.  Hiding an unsightly air conditioning unit, adding privacy and changing boring views to beautiful ones are issues that landscape designers face with many clients.  A designer sees the problems that you see, and often the ones you do not, and can offer solutions to create beautiful, functional and earth-friendly landscapes.

Next, do your homework.  Tear out favorite pictures from gardening magazines, and start making a file on what you would like for your dream garden.  While not everything might be possible for your garden, it will give your landscape designer a visual starting point.

Take your time.  Avoid the temptation to impulsively start buying plants at a garden center and attempting a garden make-over.  This can be a costly gamble for those without experience.  Many homeowners find that it takes the help of a designer to create a well-planned landscape project that includes both plants and hardscape.

Research and reach out to a few landscape designers.  Be sure to interview several designers to find one who meets your needs and personality.  Review the portfolio or website of each designer, and visit some of their work if possible.  Finally, if you have a budget in mind, share this with the designer up front.

Get ready to get dirty.  You can hire a landscape designer for a range of services.  You might choose to hire a designer for a two hour consultation for ideas and suggestions that you might implement yourself.  You could also hire a designer to give you a complete design for your garden.  When it comes to implementing the design you have choices—involve the designer while you hire a recommended landscape contractor or even do some of the work yourself.

Also, you do not have to complete the whole plan at once.  A landscape can be installed over a period of time as well.  Homeowners can decide what areas are most important and start there.

7 Ways To Improve Your Home’s Sell-ability

By Lisa Doyle with J. Rockcliff Realtors

Serving all your Real Estate needs

  1. Maintain neutrality:  This policy has worked for Switzerland and it can also work in real estate.  Customizing your home is great if you plan to stay there, but extreme colors and themed rooms can scare off potential homebuyers.  If you have customized every room with extremely bright or dark colored paint, wallpaper or wall fixtures, you may want to consider toning it down a bit.  Using neutral colors on the walls can help prospective buyers create their own vision for the house, and will also leave them with less work to undo if they buy the house.
  2. Less is more:  Even though you have not moved out yet, removing some of your furniture can help the house move off the market.  If you take pictures for your listing, having less furniture can help the home appear more spacious.  When potential homebuyers arrive, having less furniture can also provide clear walkways.
  3. That new house smell:  Honestly, the new house smell is not always the most pleasant, but at least it is new.  In preparing to show your home, you should avoid strong smells.  To avoid odors, make sure to take out the trash and clean the refrigerator.  It is also good to be mindful of what you cook in the days leading up to a showing; certain foods have strong scents.  If you have pets, keep an eye on the litter box.  Any smell that is too strong could send potential homebuyers running out the door.
  4. Pay attention to the details:  It is not a good idea to make major renovations when you are ready to sell your home; you may not recoup your investment.  If you never got around to starting or completing that total kitchen or bathroom makeover, then you can make some small, inexpensive changes to spruce things up.  Replacing the hardware on cabinets is a quick way to improve the appearance of older looking fixtures.  Upgrading small items such as light switch and outlet covers can add a nice touch.
  5. Maximize your “curb appeal”:  The front of your home is the first thing prospective homebuyers will see, so keeping it presentable is a must.  If there is a yard, keep the grass to a reasonable height and, if there are trees, be sure to keep the branches under control.  The path to your front door should be a clear and welcoming one, not an obstacle course.
  6. Do not get too personal:  Upon entering your house, everyone will know it is lived in, but they do not need to see all the evidence.  Get rid of excess clutter such as newspapers, magazines and mail.  Be sure to put away your laundry and shoes.  It may also be a good idea to put away some other personal belongings, like pictures on the refrigerator or mantle.  For you, the pictures may make a house a home or display your personal touch.  For the new homeowner, it may appear too personal.
  7. Take care of repairs:  Waiting to make repairs until after you find a buyer can be tricky.  Depending on the nature of the repairs, you may not be able to find a buyer.  Depending on how fast the buyer wants to close on the house, you may not have enough time to make the repairs.  Save yourself some time and potential trouble by making repairs before you list your home.  The repairs will have to be made anyway, so it is better to get them out of the way sooner rather than later.

Great Danville Home Hitting the Market Soon!

2 Stirling Drive, Danville, CA 94526

5 Bedrooms, 4.5 Baths, 4351 Square Feet, 2-Car Garage

Special features include:

–        Huge game/bonus room

–        Full bedroom and bathroom on main level 

–        Spacious family room opens up to kitchen 

–        Faux painting in dining room and guest bathroom

–        Remodeled entertainment/theatre room

–        Remodeled kitchen and master bath 

–        New granite in guest bathroom and bar

–        Large flat backyard on nearly ½ acre

–        Close access to freeway and downtown Danville

–        Crown molding throughout

–        All neutral décor

Call us if you’d like to see this amazing home!

Lisa Doyle 925-855-4046

Costly Mistakes Sellers Make

By Realtor Lisa Doyle
Serving All Your Real Estate Needs

Mistake 1: Putting the home on the market before it is ready. Most times this happens because the seller gets impatient or is a procrastinator and has pushed himself up against a moving deadline without getting the pre-sale work done. So it comes on the market with the horrible carpet (that gets replaced during the marketing of the home); or they are painting it while it goes on the market. Presentation is everything- so get the work done before marketing the property.

Mistake 2: Over improving the home for the neighborhood. This happens with additions, bump outs, and upgrades that make the home stick out from among its competitors so much that it is an anomaly, instead of a nice addition to the community.

Mistake 3: Pricing the home based on what the seller wants to net. This pricing strategy always ends in failure. Sellers can control the asking price, but they do not control the sales price. The market does. It does not matter what the seller wants, the price is determined by the black-and-white, matter-of-fact reality of the market.

Mistake 4: Getting emotionally involved in the sale of the home. Once you decide to sell your house, it is no longer a home, but a commodity. It needs to be prepared as a commodity, marketed as a commodity, and priced as a commodity.

Mistake 5: Trying to cover up problems or not disclosing them. Just because you disclaim does not mean you cannot be sued later for the leaky basement, or dilapidated heating/air system that is discovered 30 day settlement.

Mistake 6: Not getting your ducks in a row before trying to sell. This includes financing, reading the fine print on your current mortgage to ensure no pre-payment penalties, not listening to the particulars of your local market, etc.

If you have any questions or need our help, contact us anytime!
See you soon,
Lisa Doyle

Bring Garden Cheer Into Your Home With Color

Lisa Doyle’s Newsletter Volume XVII

Even with the chill of winter still in the air, when most gardens are hibernating under a cold-weather blanket, it is easy to bring the warmth and vibrant feelings of spring into the home with colors, textures and patterns.

From the saturated colors of fresh fruits and flowers to the neutral hues of pavers and fountains, the promise of new spring gardens can provide an endless source of decorating inspiration.

In fact, styling a home is much like planting a garden: Begin with a base color, then add pops of lively hues to complement the space. Reminiscent of violets in the garden, try purple vases on the fireplace mantel. Finally, add accents such as a green rug, as if there were freshly cut blades of grass underfoot.

Many paint suppliers have infused their paint collections with new color tones that encourage the use of colors that you might find in a springtime garden bouquet. These bright hues look especially fresh when paired with light, natural wood tones.

Using fabrics with botanical motifs is another way to reflect the cheery mood of spring renewal. Furniture upholstery, pillows and curtains can interweave organic elements into the home.

Experimenting with muted, natural colors is another twist on garden-style decorating. Look for neutrals reminiscent of vintage, glazed pottery. Accent a room with an understated coral, yellow or green to give a home the feeling it has been well-loved for generations.

To breathe easy while painting indoors in the midst of winter, try a low-odor, low-VOC paint.