We've all been told not to judge a book by its cover. But when it comes to houses, curb appeal is a big deal.
It's not just that having your home look welcoming makes a buyer feel good. The condition of your home from the outside also sets an expectation for how it's been cared for inside. If there's visible trash, car parts, old toys, etc., people will unconsciously assume the inside has also been let go. But if your lawn is trimmed and you've done a little sprucing up, people will assume the home has been treated well.
Some agents say buyers know before they walk into a house whether or not they're going to put in an offer. I wouldn't go that far. But I've definitely seen clients fall in love--and shut down--at first sight.
That love-at-first-sight thing is powerful. If a buyer's heart sings at first glance, they'll be motivated to make a deal happen. So, here are some tips to get your place in heart-song inducing shape.
- Keep your lawn trim and all yard areas spotlessly clean.
If you do nothing else, do these two things. This is your #1 priority to instill the impression that your home is clean and well maintained.
- Place hanging baskets and/or pots of flowers around the front door.
Don't over-do it. Just enough to add color and life.
- Power wash the home's exterior, including siding, decks, etc.
If you don't have a power washer, you can rent one by the day from most home improvement stores.
- Put a welcome mat at the front door.
They're just plain charming. Paint your front door and mailbox. If you have an HOA, find out acceptable colors.
- Put new hardware on the front door.
Same note as above about HOA.
- Sweep for cobwebs around the windows, doors, and porch/entryways.
- Add fresh mulch to flower beds.
- Have your driveway sealed.
This can make a huge difference, but it's not the easiest DIY project. Research well, or think about calling in a pro, if your budget allows.
- Beware of kitsch.
This is the same concept as discussed in the decluttering post.
- Display lawn ornaments sparingly, if at all.
Think about it: at some point, someone thought pink flamingos were super cool. Don't risk being off-trend for this big of a first impression.
A cautionary note to the gardeners out there. Maybe you're the opposite of most people, and you have an amazing lawn and garden full of gorgeous flowers and shrubbery and such. As beautiful as it is, it could terrify the majority of buyers without a green thumb. You might want to strategize with your agent about how to make your garden appear less heavy in the maintenance department.
So, those are some easy and relatively inexpensive things you can do to improve your home's curb appeal. But if your house is kind of a plain Jane--and you have time, budget, and inclination to do anything about it--there's lots more you can do. Research online to get ideas for more extreme exterior renovations, like adding a walkway, painting the house, building a front porch, etc. (Consult with your agent to find out if it's advisable to spend the money.) To get you started: