June 15, 2015
We all know how important it is to declutter, neaten, and “stage” the interior of a home that’s going on the market. But it’s surprising how many people fail to tend to a house’s exterior shortcomings before listing it – particularly since a home’s exterior is the first thing a potential buyer sees when he or she pulls up to the open house. First impressions absolutely can make or break a sale – and a lackluster exterior can even make a would-be new owner keep on driving right by your house!
Here are five basic things you can do to maximize your home’s curb appeal without breaking the bank or spending countless hours:
This is something that’s easy to forget, but simply mustn’t be if a house is going on the market. Stand on the sidewalk or road in front of your house and give the place a brutally honest assessment. If you see broken shutters, cracked walkway pavers, peeling trim-paint, rusting light fixtures, faded house numbers, dirty windows, or a mailbox that’s seen better days, engage a handyman and give him the “punch list.” You’ll recoup the cost of these minor, but vital, issues many times over in the selling price. Remember, nothing sits on the market longer than a house that screams exterior neglect.
Don’t spend a fortune re-landscaping your front yard – but perk it up. Don’t bring in a crew – it can be as simple as spending a Saturday removing or replacing dead or dying shrubs, pruning overgrown trees that obscure the house, weeding, and laying down new mulch or wood chips. Walkway borders should be neatly “edged,” and dead spots in the lawn re-seeded or re-sodded.
The front-door is the curtain-raiser on your house, and it should “pop.” If your door is weather-worn and faded, sand it down and paint it a bright, warm color to make the entrance more inviting. Think of the front-door as a man's bright tie, or a woman's lipstick -- good “pop” and easy decisions go a long way! And if your front door is hidden behind an overhang or inset, make sure the whole entry area is well-lit and brightly painted, and the door itself flanked by simple, pretty planters.
Nothing brings a house’s curb appeal down like cheap, 30-year-old garage doors. In the last few years, garage-door designs and materials have come a long way from those sad builder-grade models of yesteryear, and beautiful, affordable options are available in wood, steel, aluminum, fiberglass and vinyl. You don’t need to spend a fortune, but most analysts say a garage door is money well-spent. (Budget alternative: cosmetic hardware sets that make your existing garage doors look like fancy “carriage house” doors – honest!)
Neighborhood cable-TV switch-boxes, wall-mounted water meters, and central air-conditioning units are all things that can mar the otherwise polished exterior appearance of a house, especially if they’re awkwardly placed, as they often are. A strategically placed bush, shrub, planter, or trellis can make these utilitarian necessities disappear.
Any real estate professional will tell you: True curb appeal is worth its weight in gold and can translate into thousands of dollars when the final sale price is tallied. Don’t make the mistake of neglecting it. Instead, aim to “wow” even the most critical open-house visitors before they walk in the front door.