By ROY SANBORN
Probably the number one question people ask me about when selling their home is "What should we do with respect to yard art and ornaments?" That question ranks higher than "What is my home worth?" and "should I take down the family photos?" and there's good reason for it. The very first thing people see when coming to your home is your yard art. And it can make a positive or negative impression. But, some people think that they may have too much yard art and some feel too little. Fortunately, the National Association of Yard Art and Ornaments and your local real estate agent are here to help.
First, here's a little background on NAYAO and some insights into the types of Yard Art and Ornaments. NAYAO is the American chapter of the Gigolos (the Great International Garden Ornament and Lawn Ornament Supervisors) which was founded in early Rome where the focus really was on heavy chiseled garden statuary, columns, urns, sundials and fountains. That's because plastic wasn't invented yet, so there were no pink flamingos. Soon after its establishment, chapters opened in Asia where the focus was on wind chimes, pagodas, Feng Shui and Zen rock gardens. The English had their gardens and ornamental sculpted topiary, fountains and mazes. Not to be outdone, the Germans introduced the porcelain garden gnome in 1841, and a new industry was born.
Now there are different types of yard art and ornaments. I classify them into one of three categories: garden art, lawn ornaments, or gargantuan (redneck) with two subsets of each; a. useful (or functional) or b. useless (nonfunctional and a pain in the butt to move.) Some examples of traditional garden art items are things like gazing balls, bird baths, bird houses, whirligigs, pink flamingos, kinetic sculptures and yes, garden gnomes or other plaster or terracotta figurines. I think you can see that only the bird houses and bird baths are useful and yet only for the birds. It should be noted that garden gnomes are somewhat out of favor today and actually are banned from the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in England because the organizers said that they detracted from the garden designs. Imagine the gall. Gnome enthusiasts have broken off from the NAYAO and formed the Gnomes Lives Matter movement because they felt the CFS was discriminating against "little people." There is political incorrectness running rampant everywhere. Travelocity has taken up the little guy's cause and is helping bring him back into favor.
The lawn ornaments category is something that has really taken off in America. A lot of the traditional items seen in the garden have escaped from the flower garden at night and taken up residence in green spaces. In fact, you may see these "crossover" ornaments like birdhouses, whirligigs and gazing balls anywhere on the lawn. Americans tend to be very creative and diverse in what they like for yard art. Drive around a bit and you are likely to see carved wooden bears, totem poles, windmills, silhouettes of moose, cowboys or smoking men, metal sculptures, and farm implements like horse-drawn hay rakes, plows and carriages. Yard art can tell you a lot about the owner of the property – you know, like if he is crazy or not. But maybe, he just wants you to think he's crazy. Does an old toilet, bath tub or bedpan filled with flowers make you creative or crazy?
Then you have the gargantuan category, which I really like but I suspect it isn't for everyone. Things like rusty old John Deere or Massey Ferguson Tractors fit into this category. I've seen a few old steam shovels that make really great planters. This could also be classified as redneck yard art. It should be noted that the Gigolos don't recognize this category. These are really hard pieces to move once you get them plunked down where you want them. You kind of have to have the right setting for these as well. You can pull it off in Sanbornton, Gilmanton or Center Harbor, but not so much on Shore Drive in Laconia.
Another gargantuan display that made a lot of news is located down near Houston, Texas, where huge metal sculptures of a T-rex and velociraptor dinosaur stand menacingly on a couples' front lawn in a rather nice upscale neighborhood. Apparently, the home owners association didn't feel dinosaurs are allowed and was causing a big stink about them. I am not sure if they were finally allowed to remain as it was not clear on the internet. You know how news reporters are, only reporting the bad stuff, but if it turns out OK you never find out. For all I know, they could be on their way up to South Down.
There were 1,023 single-family homes on the market as of Aug. 1 in the 12 Lakes Region of New Hampshire communities covered by this report. The average asking price stood at $572,815, but the more telling median price point was $279,900. Half the homes available in the market place were below that amount so there are plenty of affordable options out there to go see! Look for one with some superb garden art or tasteful lawn ornaments.
Please feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of 8/1/16. Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012.
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