How to Improve Curb Appeal
A large percentage of home buyers decide whether to look inside a house or pass based on curb appeal—the way the house looks on the outside from the street. You can ensure they want to come inside your house by spending some time working on its exterior appearance.
Owners and buyers don't look at a house the same way; owners usually can't see their house's faults. Decide right now to stop thinking of the property as a home. It's a house—a commodity you want to sell for the highest dollar possible.
Curb Appeal Exercise
The next time you drive up to your house, make a note of the following:
- Your first impression of the house and yard.
- The best exterior features of the house or lot.
- The worst exterior features of the house or lot.
Park where a potential buyer would and walk towards the house, looking around you as if it were your first visit. Is the approach clean and tidy? What could you do to make it more attractive?
Take photos of the house's exterior. If you have a digital camera, view the color versions first, then remove the color and look at it in black and white. It's easier to see problems when color isn't around to affect our senses.
Make a list of the problem areas you discovered. Tackle clean up and repair chores first, then put some time into projects that make the grounds more attractive.
- Kill mold and mildew on the house, sidewalks, roof, or driveway.
- Stowaway unnecessary garden implements and tools.
- Clean windows and gutters.
- Pressure wash dirty siding and dingy decks.
- Edge sidewalks and remove vegetation growing between concrete or bricks.
- Mow the lawn. Get rid of weeds.
- Rake and dispose of leaves, even if your lot is wooded.
- Trim tree limbs near or touching the home's roof.
Don't Forget the Rear View
Buyers doing a drive-by will try to see your backyard. If this area is visible from another street or someone's driveway, include it in your curb appeal efforts.
Evening Curb Appeal
Do your curb appeal exercise again at dusk, because some potential buyers drive by houses in the evening.
One quick way to improve evening curb appeal is with lighting:
- String low-voltage lighting along your driveway, sidewalks and near important landscaping elements.
- Add a decorative street lamp or an attractive light fixture to a front porch.
- Ensure that lights visible through front doors and windows enhance the home's appearance.
There are times that adding elements to your landscaping can improve curb appeal, but there are other times when removing something is even more effective.
For example, we listed a large brick house with white columns. Tall evergreens, planted in front of each column, had grown taller than the roof. They obscured the columns and windows and made it difficult to see the front of the house.
We suggested that the owner remove them. She trimmed them back, but it didn't do the trick—they were unattractive and still kept potential buyers from seeing the true character of the house.
I sold the house to a couple who could see past the trees. One of their first tasks after closing was to yank them out of the ground, instantly boosting the home's curb appeal.
Most buyers cannot visualize changes and often won't take a second look at a house if the first look doesn't appeal to them. Homebuyers who can visualize changes, and are prepared to make them, expect you to reduce the price of the house to compensate for the work they plan to do.
- A fresh paint job does wonders for a dingy house. Choose eye-catching color schemes.
- Install a more attractive front door.
- If you can't justify the cost of a new door, consider replacing plain doorknob hardware with something more attractive.
- If new hardware is beyond your budget, repaint or stain the door and polish the hardware.
If you brainstorm, you'll find that there's a budget-friendly solution to most curb appeal problems.