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Five Ways to Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal
First impressions matter – especially when it comes to selling your home.
According to the National Association of Realtors, 63 percent of home buyers will drop by if they like what they see online. And the first thing they see, of course, is the exterior and landscaping.
You’d never go on a first date without brushing your teeth and hair, and making yourself presentable. Likewise, you should never place your home on the market without a little TLC.
So let’s look at five ways to improve your home’s curb appeal, as well as five mistakes to avoid.
Curb Appeal Do’s
1. Be Photo Ready
Did you know that 88 percent of home buyers begin the process online?
So fabulous photos are critical to getting buyers to your front door. Top real estate agents suggest finding the best time of day to photograph the exterior of your home, including the front entry and yard. For instance, too much sunlight can give the photos an unwanted glow effect. Which is why overcast days are often better for taking outdoor pictures.
Be sure to examine the photos before you post them online, taking care to get rid of extras and clutter — such as bikes on the front porch or cars in the driveway.
2. Plant Some Color
Unless you’re selling your home in the dead of winter, some types of annual plants are always in bloom. Colorful flowers in porch containers, window boxes and front beds provide an instant lift.
Dixie Lee, co-owner of We Buy Houses in Connecticut offers the following suggestions:
You’ll need a lot of plants to make an impact. So plant flowers and plants of all colors that complement the facade of the house.
Assume the house will be on the market for about six months. Plant flower seeds three to four months in advance. For a few dollars, you’ll get hundreds of blooms.
Coordinate your plantings so that something is always in bloom and so you have a changing color palette for eight months of amazing curb appeal.
“If you know you’re selling your home three to four months in advance, you can have an amazing-looking house full of color, butterflies and friendly bees buzzing happily along the path to the front door. Planning is everything.”
3. Power Up to Keep It Clean
Another cost-efficient way to increase your home’s curb appeal is by pressure-washing the siding and deck. If you don’t own a pressure washer, you can rent one from your local home improvement store for the day.
According to the National Association of Realtors, washing a house can add $10,000 to $15,000 to the sales price of some properties. Washing the windows inside and out, pressure washing the entire exterior and treating any stains on the sidewalks and driveway are all good places to start.
4. Consider Privacy Fencing
A quality fence can drastically change the look and security of your home and property. If your home is situated on a busy road, a fence will block some of the noise and provide a better view.
If you have a bigger yard, you can use fencing to create multiple living spaces. (For instance, you can separate family cooking and eating areas from a quiet haven with a beautiful view.) Privacy fencing can also simply be functional, such as when used to hide tools and equipment for yard work or storage like trash cans.
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5. Dress Up the Front Entryway
Your home’s front entry is its exterior focal point. Make a statement by painting your front door with a blast of color or by installing a custom wood door.
Clean off any dirty spots around the knob, and use metal polish on the door fixtures. Top it off with a swag or a wreath that reflects your personal style.
And while you’re at it, take a look at your house numbers, door lockset, wall-mounted mailbox, and porch light fixture. These are all elements that can add style and interest to your home’s curb appeal. If they’re dingy or out of date, replace them. (Generally, oiled-bronze finishes suit traditional homes, while brushed nickel suits more contemporary ones.)
Curb Appeal Don’ts
Here are the five mistakes you’ll want to avoid if you’re trying to increase your home’s curb appeal:
1. Dead on Arrival
Dead leaves and plants detract from your home’s appearance. Remove them. If your blooms are spent for the season, prune them back. You want your garden to look alive. And whatever you do, do not “plant” artificial flowers. They’re the epitome of tacky. Instead, add a few inches of dark mulch to empty beds. It’ll brighten them up without screaming “fake.”
2. Visible Clutter
Cars parked in the driveway tell potential buyers that your house isn’t big enough, your overflow is kept in the garage, and you must park your vehicles outside. Likewise, if your porch is overflowing with large chairs, planters, and hanging baskets, buyers are going to feel claustrophobic instead of cozy.
Remove the clutter and keep it simple.
3. Too Much Personality
You may love your bright purple front door or flock of pink flamingos, but they’re no good when it comes to selling your house. Take it from Liz MacDonald, a Philadelphia-based home stager and host of the web series Shelf Help.
“Keeping items like lawn art or ornaments is too specific to appeal to the masses,” MacDonald says. It’s time to put away the garden gnomes, gazing balls and costume-wearing cement geese. (Your neighbors will thank you.) By the same token, your front door can be vibrant without being garish; choose a neutral or more conventional color, rather than purple or bright pink.
4. Barren Wasteland
One of the biggest landscaping mistakes you can make is to do nothing at all. If your front yard is barren, it doesn’t matter how clean, updated, and otherwise sellable your house is. According to MacDonald, there’s something extremely off-putting about not having any landscaping.
If there’s nothing green going on in your front yard, then your house appears naked. Add some simple shrubs that are native to your area, a few flower beds or fruit trees for some color, and voila—you’ve got curb appeal.
But don’t overdo it. “Modern and minimal is always the way to go,” MacDonald says.
5. Bad Company
When a house on your block commits the sin of bad curb appeal, it can be a real eyesore. But if you’re trying to sell your home, your neighbor’s ugly property can actually cost you time and money.
Homes, like people, are often judged by the company they keep, according to Rick Hoffman, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in San Diego. Even if your own property is pristine, its appraisal value will suffer if your neighbor’s home looks bad. And your house probably will sit on the market longer and sell for less.
The solution? Politely ask for some neighborly support in keeping their lawn mowed, or offer to lend a hand. You could also rave about your lawn care crew, and tell your neighbor you’ll send them over to pull weeds and mow the grass. Then pay the extra $20. It’ll be worth it.