Profile picture for KatieMMM

If you are looking at a house and it has ugly landscaping, can you ask the owner to fix it?

I want to buy a house, but it has big evergreen bushes blocking the windows all the way around the house. I really hate it. My husband and I are in disagreement about whether it is worth bringing this up. What do you think?
  • August 06 2011 - US
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Answers (15)

Profile picture for remaxagent33
I wouldn't bring up something like "removing bushes" to a seller. It's an easy fix and no reason to upset a seller.
  • August 10 2011
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Profile picture for Sharon Lewis
No, I don't think its worth it, save it for something important, like fixing electricity, plumbing etc. You can cut the bushes down yourself, its a way for you to get to know the house better too. You might find you want those bushes for privacy, maybe just not so big and bushy!
Good luck on your purchase.
  • August 09 2011
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Profile picture for carlafreund
Dear Katie,

The best time to negotiate anything is when you make the offer. In this market, sellers can't afford to be offended by request made in a professional manner.  If it is something that will keep you from making an offer on the home, definitely ask. You could also get an estimate to have them removed if you don't think it is something you can do yourself.

However, keep in mind, if it is something you can do or have done, you should focus more on the things you can't do yourself. I would think something as personal as landscaping is something you would want to do and have control over.

Best of Luck!
  • August 09 2011
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I do not think it is worth bringing up because it is something that you can address when you buy. Think more about what you would like to offer without possibly offending the seller. You might be able to negotiate a better price if you keep cosmetic issues to yourself and deal with them after closing. Focus on the repairs that should be made by the seller that will be revealed in a professional home inspection. Common in Florida is a 1.5% contribution by the seller for repairs to major systems of the home such as a/c, roof, plumbing. Those things that the seller really should have maintained while living in the home. Stay away discussions with the seller about personal dislikes about the home because that causes unnecessary emotions to rise creating a cloud over the negotiations.
  • August 09 2011
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ask for the repair in the offer. If they say no, at least you tried.
  • August 09 2011
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What other features make this house attractive to you?  Most people would have seen the unattractive landscapping and moved on to the next house.  With so much inventory out there at discount prices, something must had made this house "the one"

David Cooper
  • August 06 2011
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Profile picture for SoCal Engr
LOL...

So, after all the 'trons are expended, the prior advice boils down to...

#1  If it's important to you, factor the cost into your offer.
#2  The final answer depends on your specific scenario and goals.
  • August 06 2011
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Let us take a look at this situation so that we can find a strategy that gives you the best price and makes the sale go smoothly.

If the landscape is not attractive, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Your idea of nice landscaping maybe be much different than the sellers.  Perhaps the seller just added a roof or has another feature they are proud of and did not feel the landscape was a priority.

The cleanest and most effective way for you to improve the landscape is to  put money in your pocket to have the landscape done yourself, or for you to hire someone.  Consider the condition of the landscape with your initial offer.  Whether you offer less than asking price, or ask for closing costs, really depends on how good of a deal the property is. 

Just make sure that you agree on a price with your initial offer and negotiations that gives you room to do the work after closing.  The look of the landscape is something that you can see with the eye, and is not a hidden defect.  So waiting for inspection to ask for a credit, would be risky for you.  In addition, the seller may become less cooperative with you, as it is not customary to ask for the landscape to be improved after an inspection.  After all inspections are to remedy defects not to ask for improvements.

Whether you want to even address that your offer includes consideration of the condition of the landscape, is a strategy that you can consider with your agent.   It really depends on the scenario, how low you are coming in, and if you think it will help you get the best price for the property.
  • August 06 2011
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Profile picture for SoCal Engr
Unless it is identified as an inspection issue (i.e., vegetation against the house), I concur with WetDawgs. No house is going to match your ideal, but it's unrealistic to expect the owner to modify to your desire.

Modifying the house to your ideal is what you do after the house is yours. If doing this is going to be extensive (i.e., demo and redo landscape, demo and redo kitchen/baths, etc.), then you reflect that in your offer. If not (i.e., remove a bush/tree, repaint, re-carpet, etc.), then that's just a normal cost of home ownership.

p.s. On new construction, my experience is that every change mod results in an increase in your earnest deposit - even though the changes are being selected off what the builder is offering. So, even on new construction, there is a cost to "having it your way".
  • August 06 2011
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Profile picture for mthood

Okay a few things in response.
I would not ask in the initial offer, but if an offer is accepted & the home inspection goes well & other more important dollar ticket items are not needed…then I would ask for the bush to be trimmed or removed as a lender required item. Most lenders don't allow vegetation to touch the house as it can cause dry-rot. Some appraisers call on this as a condition especially FHA loans.

Yes everything is negotiable, but pick the battles as needed to get you the best deal!

  • August 06 2011
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
There is no such thing as a perfect house, even when brand new.  If you have dreams for the house, plan your landscaping and starting chopping when you move in.   It isn't worth bringing up.  Usually there are far more important things to negotiate, this one may be shooting yourself in the foot.
  • August 06 2011
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Everything is negotiable.  You can ask for whatever you want and the seller can do the same.  If you want them to give you a puppy at closing you could or use a car as a downpayment you could.  The market is truly where those things get hashed out.  In this market, try it out and see.
  • August 06 2011
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Profile picture for SouthBayProperty
That would be foolish for a seller to do, and foolish for a buyer to ask for.  If the seller is out of money doing that and the deal falls through, then look for the lawyers to get involved.  The correct approach is get a quote on what it would take to make it like you want, and ask for a credit at closing.

Hope that helps.
  • August 06 2011
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Everything is negotiable, but let's say the owner does cut the bushes and for some reason or the other the sale doesn't go through. Then comes another buyer who wants bushes. Maybe he would be willing to give you a credit towards landscape maintenance or removal.
  • August 06 2011
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Profile picture for kapyarets

If the sellers didn't work on landscaping before they put the house on the market I would doubted that they will be willing to do if for you. You don't tell what you don't like. If there is a matter of trimming the bushes, you can ask the seller to do so and they may agree with your request. If you would like them to cut or plan trees, re-seed the grass, plant the flowers - it's a job for the new owner. It needs to be done over the course of the year or two. I suggest to you to get estimation for the work you would like to do and take that in consideration when you make an offer.

  • August 06 2011
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