First impressions do make a difference when selling your home. Often times, before making the call to schedule an appointment, a homebuyer will drive by your home to determine if they may be further interested. If the house presents a good impression, then you receive the phone call for an appointment. Many homes are eliminated from a potential homebuyer’s list because they do not give a good first impression. The work you put into sprucing up the inside will be in vain if the exterior of your home does not draw people in. In the real estate world this is known as “curb appeal”, that is, your home should be appealing to potential buyers from their initial curbside or drive-by viewing.
Achieving curb appeal is not very difficult, nor does it have to be very costly. Assuming your roof, gutters, etc… are not in obvious need of repair, most of your efforts will be focused on cosmetics. Step back from your home or better yet, go to the curb and take a long objective look at your home. You may want to take a look from different angles. Compare your home to others on your block. You will be focusing on two main areas; the house itself and the landscaping surrounding your house.
When observing your home, start at the top of the roof and work your way down. Write down areas that need attention. You are striving for a look that makes observers feel that your home is neat, clean and well cared for. The following areas of your exterior deserve special attention:
Roof and chimney – Shingles should be intact with none missing and mortar between the bricks should be secure. Although expensive to replace, a roof or chimney in disrepair often discourages potential homebuyers.
Exterior siding – If your siding needs to be painted, it is well worth the expense and time. Choose a color that is fairly neutral and that coordinates with homes in your immediate vicinity. Power washing dirty siding can make a house look almost new again.
Gutters – You should repair and clean gutters. Weeds growing from your gutters are a good example of a negative first impression. Nothing says “poor maintenance” like weeds in a gutter.
Windows and Trim – If the paint on the trim or windows is peeling, scrape and paint. Replace any broken glass and finally clean the windows inside and out.
Front Entry Door – If your front door has not been painted in 3-4 years, consider a fresh coat of paint. Depending on the style of your home, a contrasting color from your siding may add visual interest. The front door should welcome buyers into your home. A nice looking wreath in tune with the season gives a warm homey touch.
Shutters – If applicable, repair and paint if needed. Usually, a contrasting color matching the front door or a neutral color works best.
Foundation – You should repair visible cracks. Basement windows should be repaired if cracked, cleaned and trim painted if necessary. It sometimes helps to paint the exposed foundation on the exterior of your home but you should avoid loud colors.
Porch – Once again, repair and paint railings, posts and steps. Place a few nice chairs and a table with plants if space permits. Place a welcome mat by the door. Hanging flower baskets add a nice touch but don’t forget to water them. An inexpensive idea to dramatically enrich your curb appeal is to add a brass mailbox, a new brass porch light, brass house numbers and a brass kick plate. For less that $80.00 dollars you will transform the look of your home.
Now that the house’s exterior is in good shape it is time to concentrate on the landscaping around your home. Your goal is to have the landscaping complement your home, not detract from or compete with it. Homebuyers should not have to look through overgrown shrubs or trees to see your home. Anything overgrown or so large that it blocks windows, doorways or sidewalks should be trimmed back or removed. Any diseased or dying plants should be removed. Aim for a few plants that serve as a focal point, and fill in with other smaller plants. Make beds deep enough to accommodate shrubs when they are fully grown (usually 5-6 feet). Visit a local nursery for ideas. You can get great ideas by simply driving around the neighborhood as well. After trimming and planting, cover the soil with a thick 3-4 inch layer of mulch. Keep the beds free from weeds, and depending on your location and season, add a few annuals for color interspersed with the bushes. Keep everything trimmed and neat so the focus is on your home. Keep your lawn cut, apply fertilizer and weed control if needed.
Remember, your landscaping should enhance your home, not overpower it. Keeping everything trimmed and neat will give your home the “curb appeal” needed to make someone want to take a closer look. Once you get the potential buyer inside…well that’s the subject for another article! Stay tuned.