SAVVY HOMEOWNERS KNOW to spruce up a house before putting it up for sale: Repaint the walls, replace worn carpet, reduce clutter, etc. But in our city of lush gardens and carefully tended lawns, none of that will work if prospective buyers won’t even get out of their cars.” A house that looks junky on the outside won’t sell,” says real estate agent Rebecca Haas. “We used to drive by properties to see if we were interested in going inside. If the paint was bad or if the yard looked like it would take $20,000 and six months of our life to get it looking the way we wanted, we’d drive away.
 When Haas became the listing agent for a 2,230-square-foot home in Woodinville in 2006, she knew its uncared-for outdoor areas would keep it languishing on the market. So, she hired a contractor to power-wash and stain the deck, clean the hot tub, repair and plant multiple flower boxes, and get rid of a dog run and an unsightly greenhouse, “a disaster waiting to happen. It took away from the home’s aesthetic appeal,” she says. “We leveled off the concrete foundation and made it into a nice side patio. Instead of being a liability, it became a plus for the house.”
 Dressing up a home’s yard will make it sell faster, yes, but it will also add to the bottom line. Houses with a well-landscaped yard sell on average for 11.3 percent more than those without, studies show. Haas’s client spent $28,000 on upgrades and sold his home in two weeks’ time for $50,000 more than the asking price, making it the highest priced home in the neighborhood.
 At the very least, before putting their house on the market, sellers should trim the lawn, weed garden beds, and bring in colorful plants. Tear down unsightly or dangerous structures, and limb or transplant overgrown trees that block windows or views. Pressure-wash decks, porches, and driveways, and consider replacing unappealing, cracked concrete or asphalt patios and walkways with decorative stone versions.