300 roses = maintenance = scared off home buyers

works_for_rosesJuly 23, 2010

My house is for sale. I have a large garden - almost 300 roses. Although 90% of them are shrub-like roses that don't require spraying and pruning, it has scared a few potential buyers away. They say that the maintenance would be overwhelming, which I understand. Up to now we've assumed that some flower lover would buy the house because they would love the gardens and take the house that comes with it.

So today we're discussing options: Keep the yard as is and continue to wait for the right buyer/gardener - or - increase the lawn area (they don't seem to see grass as a maintenance issue) and replace some of the shrub roses with regular shrubs like lilacs that don't scream "too much work".


What would you do?

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When I saw your post, I was just coming back from my first visit to the rose forum and thought my computer hadn't responded. Wow what a garden! and sorry that you are going to be leaving your roses.

First, knowing your general location might be significent to some people. I also suspect that we might be a bit biased toward the garden on these sites. Perhaps a similar question on a real estate site would be useful? Unfortunately, I guess it is too late to be talking with several different agents.

I suspect the main problem re 'fear' is the not knowing the actual work or expense involved. If you have a house pamflet, you could include (along side the good schools and community center etc) your estimate of maintainance time AND a quote for (yikes) land smoothing and lawn installation.

If you are seriously considering actaully installing the lawn, then with the quote you could instead offer an allowance (as much as it might be painful to equate a garden with old dirty rugs). The quote without the allowance actually gives a buyer a pleasant way to negotiate the price down a bit.

For the keep the garden argument: this is a tough market to sell in (again; where are you). Perhaps the garden IS your selling point. There are a ton of houses for sale in the triangle that have been on the market for a year and most are similar to each other. Perhaps putting up your own home pictures in odd places would be worth a try.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 3:30PM
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My house sold at full asking price BECAUSE of the garden. Lucky lucky me. Nothing I did made this happen. The buyers fell out of the sky. I had told my realtor that a gardener or someone that needs a large yard would be the eventual buyer - she had no idea how to attract them. She didn't find the buyers, they came to me from a different realtor. The lot size caught their eye and seeing a garden in place sealed the deal. Wham bam, the house sold in two months, closed this past February. They barely looked at the house. They only cared about the garden.

Keep in mind that I was not in a subdivision and my house was half of your asking price so there was a large pool of first time home buyers chomping at the bit wanting to get the $8000 credit.

Do whatever you can to get people into your house. Don't spend any money changing anything UNTIL you have lookers. If they ask about the maintenance of the yard you can tenderly explain that you've collected roses and that there are plenty of lower maintenance plants that could take their place. Someone wanting a food or herb garden should be told that if roses will grow there... food will grow there also.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 5:09PM
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I see you are in Burlington. Your home/gardens would appeal to people between Chapel Hill and Greensboro.

I think you need to advertise it outside Burlington--especially position it to the Chapel Hill market. Carrboro and Chapel Hill residents are likely to go ga-ga over your place.

Your gardens are gorgeous! I would leave everything in place.

Get estimates from local "real" gardeners who could be hired to do the rose maintenance. In my Chapel Hill area, people hire Witherspoon Roses if they can't DIY. Don't know if you have someone equivalent in Burlington.

My neighbors bought a house here with an established rose garden and they have Witherspoon come in to do the maintenance and the owners just cut roses to enjoy indoors.

Downplay the NUMBER of roses! Just let people walk out into that fabulous garden. Put the focus on having coffee or tea in the garden...evenings...strolling...

Have your realtor put the romance into the selling. It's a lifestyle you've got there! A great one, IMHO.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 10:25AM
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pfmastin(8 N. Carolina)

We're thinking of selling in a year or so and I have given some thought to the same situation as you. We have an acre and a quarter and much of it is in beds in addition to a vegetable garden. I have thought of telling the realtor that we'd be willing to redo some bedded areas and put it back in grass if the buyer requested it. It wouldn't be much fun. :)

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 7:33PM
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Please do not change it.
The gardens are beautiful!
If I were moving to Burlington, The gardens would be the selling point for me.
I am sure other gardeners would feel the same. The right buyer will come along.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 9:22PM
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it has scared a few potential buyers away. They say that the maintenance would be overwhelming, which I understand.

If a your realtor or theirs told you this, I think it's a cop out. Anyone truly interested in your property would not see
the garden as a stumbling block. Just like paint, wall paper, flooring, light fixtures, etc.... it can be changed to
suit the buyer who's really interested.

Someone who wants a low maintenance lawn will probably just
buy a townhome with no garden maintenance anyway, so don't
let a anxious realtor scare you into ripping out something
that the right buyer will love....

Just my .02.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 8:49AM
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I am an avid gardener. However, I do not care for thorny plants including most roses, hollies with spiny leaves, etc.

Your home is lovely and so are the gardens. However, I think you will narrow the potential pool of buyers without an expanse of lawn and with too many roses. If a young couple with children looked at all of those roses, it could overwhelm them, especially if they are not gardeners. Children like to run around as do pets and plants with thorns are not friendly to touch or run into.

If I were selling, I would call a garden club or master gardeners to dig out the roses along the grass path on both sides and have lawn there instead. The borders and permimeter of the property should be planted for privacy and the trellis and pergola looks great.

I grow only 2 types of roses, R. glauca and the thornless yellow Rosa banksiae. I garden without gloves and don't like being punctured.

Your home and property are meticulously maintained, gorgeous.

We dug a lot of plants from our previous garden in PA before moving here to NC last fall. I also had friends come over and take things for themselves.

I'm guessing you do not plan on taking any plants with you.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 1:59PM
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Sadly enough, many buyers have specific ideas of what they want, and they lack the imagination to be able to see how they could change a property to suit them. Houses that appeal to a large share of the market sell more quickly than houses that will only appeal to a limited number of buyers.

You need to decide if you can wait for that special buyer or if you need to see soon.

Remember, once the house is sold, it is no longer yours, and the new owners are free to make whatever changes they want to make, including tearing out the roses!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 5:37PM
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I think your roses are beautiful!!

If most of the roses are shrub roses and hardy, I would use it as a selling point. "Have you always wanted a rose garden but afraid of the upkeep? XYZ house with xyz fabulous features, (bedrooms, granite, etc.) is a gardener's dream! Beautifully landscaped with low maintainence roses that are not that only easy to care for but sure to impress the most discerning gardener. This flower garden is well established, perfect for a quiet evening spent on the 30' deck with family and friends." Instead of using the 'garden space' as a selling point, focus on the 'all the hard work is done, relax and enjoy' part.

Is your house only listed locally? If so, maybe you could have it listed in the north and in Florida. I could see where a retired couple who have always wanted a garden would easily fall in love with your house. The retired couple in the north wants to move to a warmer location, the retired couple in Florida wants to move to somewhere cooler. When I lived up north everyone spoke of NC as if it were the oasis of America. Why did I ever leave such a fantastic area? :)

I freely admit I'm biased- I love roses.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 11:37PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

What's the MLS number?
Doesn't Gardenweb have some spot where you can advertise your home for sale because of its garden?
I sold RE for years here and I think I was one of the few who would actually take the time to preview homes/gardens for clients who didn't want to waste time seeing homes they couldn't garden.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 12:39PM
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I wouldn't change a thing! Your home is beautiful. I am going to guess it is more a price point thing than a yard thing. Hopefully it has sold by now but I wouldn't change anything if I were in your shoes.

I just moved to NC from IN and went through the house search thing and there seems to be a certain price point that is just stagnant at the moment. Give it some time, it is taking houses about 6 months to sell right now. Much like others have said, the right people will come along. Hang in there. You have a beautiful home!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 10:07PM
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mom2edna(7- Charlotte, NC)

I'm a real estate broker. I wouldn't change it. I would add a slip in the home info about their upkeep like a previous poster said, with a quote from a local place for upkeep or an offer to the new homeowner to teach them all about it and how to care for it.

And I agree with another previous poster who said to down play the number and size of the garden and instead write descriptions that create romance and beauty.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 7:55PM
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Tom_in_Chi(z7 NC)

I'm sure no one needs to tell the original poster that this is the worst housing market in recent memory. After having our home in Raleigh on the market for several months this year, we grew frustrated. For us, the cop out wasn't a rose garden, rather it was the fact that we had only 2.5 bathrooms, not enough for the number of bedrooms we had.

Don't give up hope! In late June, we leased our home for 2 years. Hopefully, the market will be better by then. If not, we'll try to lease it again. That being said, it's not likely you'll get a renter who will care for your roses as you'd like them to be cared for, so renting may not solve your problem....

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 1:21PM
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I'm with Carol regarding the thorny, prickly plants. I don't care for roses in particular. I wouldn't purchase a property with that many roses, not because of any lack of imagination but because ripping them out would be an undertaking that I don't care to involve myself in. Right now especially, there are too many properties to choose from. For me to even consider that amount of work, I would have to be convinced that I couldn't find anything else like it in the areas I was looking in. I live in a house now that we had plenty of imagination for but time, energy, and finances are not equal to our imagination. Now we are thinking of selling and buying another home and I won't purchase another home that has large projects to complete. Different strokes and all.. someone may look at it and say that while they may have projects to do inside the home, they will never be able to find a rose garden like that so that may be what sells it.. you just never know.

I would have the Realtor give potential buyers the reference for maintenance but also tell them that if they want to have the bushes removed and grass planted, that you will do that as well. Then, if it comes down to it you can have friends, neighbors, and half of craigslist come have a rose digging party and get rid of the ones they want gone.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 12:20PM
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I think that many realtors just don't know what they are talking about, but it's not a good time to sell, with or without roses. I bought my first house as a foreclosure. I knew I would have to gut it and renovate, so I offered 30% below asking price. My realtor was practically offended, and almost refused to do the offer for me. He was wrong, and I got the price. When I sold three years later, same realtor told me I would never get my asking price. First folks that looked at the house bought it. Like John, I think the gardens (and the kitchen) were the only deciding factors.

In this case, you are leaving this house, so my advice is to divorce yoursenf from the garden you have loved and worked to create. Start thinking about your new garden. You will need every dollar from your home's sale to spend on the new home and creating new gardens. You have no assurance that the buyers wouldn't trash your garden anyway. Play it forward, and try to be objective about doing whatever you have to to maximize the sale price.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 9:51AM
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Work for roses,
I know you love your roses.
They are probably beautiful.
If I saw your home, and I absolutley love roses and own some, but 300 rose bushes, I would see a tremendous water bill.
I know how much water roses need to flourish.
Where I live in SC, we are 7-8 inches under in rain this year. It is soooo dry.
No, I wouldn't buy your home.
I wouldn't ask you to take them out, there are so many homes on the market I would just admire your garden and buy something else.
Just remember who your targeted customer is.
Who do you think is going to be the buyer?
A family?
Taylor your home for a family and you will sell it.
Good Luck to you.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 1:38AM
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