There is much written on how to improve your house, the advice includes how to renovate and which rooms return the most on your investment.  But there are things you can do without hiring contractors and pulling permits. 


For the most impact, start outside.  The property will never sell if people won’t stop to consider it.  Curb appeal is one of the most powerful factors in attracting buyers. 


The convenience of the Internet can allow people to see the interior and the photos you have added on the property.  The can troll through virtual tours and compare square footage and number of bathrooms in the comfort of their home.  But the actual visit can be easily stopped with an overgrown yard or neglected landscape. 


While people are often looking for the worst house in the best neighborhood, they want to use this to negotiate a better deal.  As a seller, this works against your ability to counter the offer.  In many cases, the buyers just keep driving. 


So what are the secrets to curb appeal?  One of the strongest messages that are sent with curb appeal is that the property has been well maintained.  The over grown grass says neglect not care.  The planting of bright, pretty flowers sends a message that you have attended to details.  The assumption is that the detail attention will travel inside as well. 


Landscaping should be well maintained, grass mown and bushes trimmed.  The property should be clearly visible with no obstruction especially of windows and other features of the property.  Any trees on the property should be well maintained as well.  Dangling branches or trees too close to the house will make potential buyers think of damage and roots in the foundation, not the wonderful location or great square footage. 


As a seller, the objective is to maximize the features of the property.  If there is a great view, the landscaping should feature it; not hide it.  If there is a pool or hot tub, the visual message should be recreation not maintenance.  The landscaping should make the property look large and attractive, not cluttered and time consuming.  The flowers and plants chosen should say “home” or “home and gardens” without looking like maintenance will either be time consuming or expensive.  People want to putter in gardens, not be chained to the flowerbeds.  So the selections of plants and flowers must have appeal without needing to be fussed over.


Details like the mailbox, house numbers and porch lights are essential in curb appeal.  They need to be complementary to the house and its architectural style.  They need to be functional; house numbers should be visible from the road to help people find you with only an address.  Mailboxes that are damaged and dented will send the message that there is work to be done. 


The old axiom that you only have one chance to make a first impression couldn’t ring truer than in real estate.  The drive by is critical to the first connection with the potential buyer.  If the curb appeal says this is a loved, cared for and well maintained property the prospect is more likely to become a buyer. 

Posted by Rick Clarke on
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Listing information last updated on May 26th, 2024 at 9:00am PDT.