Friday 17 September 2010


Another viewer has come and gone. Another lot of feedback received, now familiar: "loved the house, but not enough outside space" (actually this is an improvement on "really wanted a garden". Or perhaps a garage. Or perhaps both.).

It makes no difference how clearly the estate agents explain to potential buyers that in order to have a garden or "outside space" in this area of the city, for this type of house, you probably need to add many thousands of pounds to your budget.

This type of terrace, very common all over the city, usually has a concrete back yard - originally intended to accommodate the outside loo and the coal hole and to store the dustbin. Many of them now show valiant attempts at courtyard gardening, with planters and decking, although many also have rampant buddleia and ivy slowly prising the crumbling brick walls apart.

In the case of my own house, outside loo and coal hole long demolished, yard walls rendered and a stout wooden fence in place, the estate agent's particulars state:

Externally there is a town garden to the front and a very pleasant rear yard. (As in yard, not garden. American readers, 'yard' here in the UK does not mean garden. A pity.)

and later:

To the front of the property there is a small town garden planted with mature shrubbery, cast iron railings and flagstoned pathway. (Actually, the cast iron railings are my neighbour's, and a few straggling plants and a bully of a poppy in the impoverished soil round the bay window stretch the concept of a town garden a bit far, in my opinion. But we won't quibble about that.) 

To the rear of the property it benefits from a bright aspect, with an array of mature plants, flowers and shrubbery, a beautiful small acer tree, large decorative containers filled with roses and climbing plants, outside tap, secure storage area and a gate giving access to the back lane.

Yet people still roll up to view, oooh and aaah over the house, but are somehow bizarrely disappointed that my little yard hasn't suddenly transmogrified into a leafy, grassy garden fit for dogs and small children to gambol in, or fairies to live at the bottom of, whilst, miraculously, remaining at a price in keeping with all the other Edwardian houses with yards in this city.

Maybe they are just sparing my feelings? I don't know; it's confusing. The annuals in the yard will be over soon, and many of the planters put away for the winter. "Outside space' will be freed up, and the bleakness of the back yard will re-emerge until the first Spring bulbs make their appearance.

But at the end of the street, a few hundred yards away, is the real outside space - no vendor's gardening skills required - that makes it such a pleasant area:

Maybe this is where those fairies live.


Catherine said...

I hope you have good luck soon ~ not much grass or garden to take care of is 'my kind of yard'! :)
xo Catherine

Annie (Lady M) x said...

I think that your back yard looks absolutely charming! Haven't your viewers considered the benefit that they don't have to lug a lawnmower out every couple of weeks?!!

the veg artist said...

Some people never read the details properly - I've found that in the past, too. But someone will, and they will buy. They may even have vision on a cold wet day. You never know!

Karen said...

I think here in the States your back area would probably be described as a fenced-in patio. I have something similar, a 10x20' concrete patio, then a small garden edging it (I have daylilies and a Forest Pansy redbud tree) and then a privacy fence surrounding the whole thing. It has a back gate like yours, but is only 6 feet tall.

We think of yards as the grassy stuff (front and back yards) and gardens as the place where we grow (depending on the color of our thumbs) plants. I bought a townhouse so that I wouldn't have to deal with mowing the yard; the homeowners' association is responsible for the common areas.

Val said...

I can really identify with the frustration caused by prospective buyers' inability to read a house description clearly. Prior to adding on the new bathroom, would-be buyers would look around the house, say it was absolutely beautiful and then moan "but it only has one bathroom" despite the clear description in the advert. Wonder what they'll whinge about when we put the house on the market again, with TWO bathrooms.
Your garden (front and back) looks absolutely beautiful and of course the adorable felines add the finishing touch! I feel sure you will get a buyer in due time and in the meantime am sending you positive and encouraging thoughts.

Lucille said...

I think the agents have struck the right note. Did they include photos? There's really no cause for disappointment here. Far from it. You've made it look beautiful. A yard is perfectly well understood in this country (we called ours the back yard) and the only other workable description might have been 'patio garden' I suppose. On the plus side, when it gets cold and wintry nobody's garden sells well and most of the viewings are done in the dark!

Fran Hill said...

I love the look of your yard, especially from a lawn-mowing-effort point of view. It looks like a lovely place to sit with a book (or four).

Lynda (Granny K) said...

There are some people who would find a bigger garden 'hard work'. I sold my first house, with 'yard-type garden' (wash-house and coalhouse still insitu) to a lady with MS, who was only able to walk with a stick. A few plants to tend was just what she wanted!
There is nothing wrong with your house and garden, you just havn't met the right purchaser yet. Maybe another busy young doctor with a hectic lifetstyle! :o)

jabblog said...

Oh dear - shoot the estate agents, or at least those who write the blurb. I loved the idea of 'a small town garden planted with . . . cast iron railings and flagstoned pathway.' Must get some seeds for those!

Unknown said...

I think your "yard" is beautiful and could not wish for any more from a town garden. As for viewers, I recall selling a two story house with a very large garden - the details were clear but we had shortage of elderly viewers disappointed by the size of the garden and all the stairs!!! I'm sure the right person is on their way, don't lose faith.

Pam said...

Silly people. Grr.

"Sunshine" said...

I guess I am surpised by your agents lack of description of your home and "yard", to the perspective buyer.
Or perhaps she does present it well and the new home"looker" is not paying attention..
In either case, your home and garden is lovely and the right one will come along.
I am eagerly waiting, as I know you are, for the rest of the story.

BumbleVee said...

well.... it looks almost like a garden with all the flowers and plants.... and geeez.... they just have to walk down the block to the park... what more can they ask at the price? ... probably just some looky-loos ... as we call them.... they'll be sadly disappointed when they see what else is available at the same price I think......

Gwen Buchanan said...

Your garden and yard are just right.. it is just that the "Just Right " people haven't found you yet.. It looks low maintenance and beautiful at the same time and that for me is a selling feature..

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

The back yard is beautifully planned and inviting . The front garden beautifully kept and charming .
It all looks perfect for a busy couple , or indeed anyone , who wants to spend relaxing weekends surrounded by greenery and colour .
Those with HUGE black lollopy dogs will find the nearby park very convenient .

Dan said...

Why do people turn up to view when they want something that isn't there? I think sometimes they just decide to come along and have a look anyway. I love your back yard, you've made it really peaceful and relaxing. I could sit out there are read for hours without having that nagging guilt that I really should be mowing the lawn!

Kate on Clinton said...

Oh, I am so envious of your outdoor space! Being on a high floor with no outdoor space (but great views), we long for a little fresh air space of our own. My husband has tried growing all sorts of crazy outdoor plants in our apartment, with little success (the gardenias didn't bloom at all this year) except our new pot of grass.

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