Creating Curb Appeal
November 18, 2022
Someone said, “a stunning first impression was not the same thing as love at first sight. But surely it was an invitation to consider the matter.” This could not be truer than in selling a home. First impressions matter. Sometimes they are everything.
Nothing sets the tone of a relationship or transaction more than first impressions. So, consider what a potential homebuyer may think as he or she drives up to your property for the very first time.
Think of “curb appeal” as the home seller’s shop window. Like picking a lunch place on a busy avenue in a tourist spot, it’s either the outside presentation or, as we saw prior in the 80/20 rule discussion, some particular feature that brings in the customers. For most lunch seekers, it is the way the place looks (“curb appeal”), and to others, the clams they serve (specific desired feature).
You do not have a lot of time to establish a curb appeal relationship with a prospective homebuyer. Whether cruising the web to view online photos from across the country or cruising by your home in the family SUV on a Sunday afternoon outing, home shoppers will decide at a glance whether they want to see more.
“We buy ugly houses” is a sign seen nailed to electric poles. Rehabbers look for ugly houses so that they can pay the least amount possible; homebuyers looking for a deal — but not a “basement bargain” — do not.
Creating curb appeal is essential to attracting interest in your home. How your home looks from the road is so persuasive that a well-prepared house may catch the attention of buyers who did not find the written description particularly compelling, or a neglected house can cause a buyer previously excited by a printed or online marketing listing a specific desired feature to cruise right on by.
Try it. Go out into your street and look — we mean really look — at your home and see if you can spot any imperfections. Is it appealing, pristine, and well-kept, or are there necessary repairs that you have been putting off? After you’ve lived in a home for a long while, you’re not likely to examine it objectively. Listen to suggestions from real estate experts, your friends and/or potential home buyers about how you can make your house show better.
Then, take a drive around your neighborhood and surrounding area and see which homes for sale appeal to you and note why. Well-tended houses with trimmed bushes, groomed lawns, attractive landscaping, and a “grand entrance” (discussed shortly) will be more impressive than homes with an unkempt walkway, uncut grass, and a paint-peeling front door.
The outside appearance of a property needs to be an invitation to come inside. Potential homebuyers are drawn to welcoming entries and uncluttered yards. They are unlikely to be attracted to a home with dead shrubbery and a weather-worn exterior. It is no stretch to think a buyer will believe the home is neglected on the inside as well.
Look at your home as a prospect would. Drive up to the curb and take inventory of everything that needs attention. Simple improvements like weeding, trimming, and window washing can improve the appearance of a home with little to no expense. Repair and repainting are costlier, but often tell in time-to-sale or sale price.
Low-cost investments like power washing the house and concrete, repainting trim, and adding landscaping also give your house more curb appeal. The goal here is to get more money for your home. Homebuyers generally aren’t interested in a home that needs work unless you want to sell below market value.
Look around your yard and make a written list of everything that could be improved:
Shrubs trimmed, flower gardens tended, and walkways tidy; beds weeded
•No trash, trash cans, lawn clippings, branches, or general mess in the yard
All outside fixtures and components working and in good repair (door and yard lights, garage door, porch rails); functioning properly and looking their best
Outdoor features such as patio furniture or the deck updated with staining or painting
Make all major and minor improvements to update the exterior of your property. There might be a long list of things to do. It takes hard work to get a home ready to sell. Anyone can put a house on the market, but not everyone sells quickly or with great profits.
Then, await the prospective buyers who will be drawn to the inside of your home when they see how beautiful it is from your curb!
CREATING A GRAND ENTRANCE
As we mentioned earlier, an important part of curb appeal is the home’s “grand entrance” — the portal to even the most modest house. You want to create a sense in the buyer of a great place to come home to. Impressing the home shopper at the front door is a vital part of the home sale. This means more than putting out a welcome mat and potted plants.
You want prospective buyers to feel welcome, safe, and secure when they open the door. It might be arranged that the prospective buyer be the one to open the front door to enhance the feeling of a “coming-home” experience.
The doorknob is the first point-of-touch on a home. Security is important to homebuyers. A flimsy lock or handle on the front door will make potential homebuyers uncomfortable and they may not even know why. Replace a worn or loose entry handset. Consider replacing the door handle with a heavy-duty deadbolt and knob combination. This investment of less than $100 will make your home more visibly and practically secure, and everyone wants to be secure in their home.
The front door is a focal point; make it impressive. Freshen it up and add a dash of color. Choose a paint that complements the color of your home. Replacing a wooden door with a steel entry door is worth the cost with a 91% ROI (Return on Investment).
SOME OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
IN CREATING GREAT CURB APPEAL:
Symmetry appeals to the eye and is easy to accomplish. Lopsided landscaping or unevenly trimmed bushes will detract from the curb appeal; the overall appearance of the home needs balance.
The mailbox should complement your home. If it is worn, dated, or unsightly, replace it. This doesn’t cost much and is worthwhile.
Use outdoor lighting to add to landscaping appeal as well as a perceived safety feature.
Use flower boxes and raised flower beds to add instant color. This is an easy, inexpensive way to enhance curb appeal.
Spruce up the landscaping. Eliminating weeds and adding fresh mulch can really make a difference and shows homeowner care and maintenance.
Consider enhancing architectural appeal by adding molding to the tops and sides of the doorway or around windows.
Keep shutters and trim in excellent shape. Repainting them adds to the attractiveness. Fence gates, arbors, and fencing panels should be clean and fresh.
Clean downspouts and gutters. Repaint or touch up to eliminate rust spots.
Ensure the walkway to the front door is clear and approachable. Stacked hoses and unruly landscaping interfere with home shoppers walking up, diminishing the inviting look.
Paint or stain railings (if weathered).
Try a fresh coat of paint; faded or chipping paint, siding, or trim will always detract from curb appeal. If exterior paint is good, ensure door and window trim are, too. This simple upgrade is well worth the cost.
Power washing the house, walkways, and driveway can be almost as effective as repainting, at a much lower cost. Power washers are easily rented from hardware stores.
Adding some stone or stone veneer to the face of the home is an inexpensive way to instantly update your home if it complements the design.
Add a “smart” doorbell. Eight of 10 home doorbells are outdated or not working, so if you invest $200 in a doorbell equipped with a camera and speaker, you will gain the approval of home shoppers who are looking for security measures.
Curb appeal is one of the most essential elements in selling your home quickly and successfully. You can create interest in your home before buyers even step out of the car, no matter how uninterested they might have been initially.
If you put money into cleaning up the outside of your home, buyers will be more likely to want to see the inside. Your home’s curb appeal draws buyers in, maintains their interest, and sets your home apart from the competition.
Remember that unless you are willing to lower your home’s price well below market value, prospective homebuyers typically won’t want to take on a major renovation project.