What is Curb Appeal and How Important Is It?
Curb appeal basically means that if a buyer drives past your house at 5 or 10 m.p.h., the front of the place should be alluring enough for that buyer to stop the car. If the job was done properly, the buyer should then get out of the car and write down your information.
According to the National Association of Realtors, "curb appeal" sells 49 percent of all houses. Relax...you, too, can achieve curb appeal for your home - whether you have a city townhouse with no front yard or a suburban house on a well-landscaped acre of land.
One thing that you, as a seller, must be aware of is that you cannot control every facet of curb appeal. The condition of your neighbors' houses and yards can affect the curb appeal of your own home. If they all look nice, then the buyer will become as intrigued with the neighborhood as with your house. If your neighbors' yards are filled with children's' toys, and the buyer has children, that means poential playmates. On the other hand, if the other yards are overgrown with a car on blocks in the front yard....good luck to you.
The following are some things you can do to increase your home's curb appeal.
Inspect the exterior of your home for blemishes. Chipped paint and stains on the exterior of your home can be rather unsightly. If necessary, you may want to power-wash the exterior to remove dirt and stains from siding, windows, patios, and other finishings (be sure to check with a professional so you don't accidentally damage your home).
Fresh Paint! While it may not be necessary to paint the entire exterior of your home (for those with wood siding), it is recommended to give your window, patio, and door trim a fresh coat of paint. Be sure to repair any cracks or blemishes you come across. Also, it probably wouldn't hurt to give the front door a couple coats, if you have a painted front door, that is.
Add some foliage. For townhomes and condominiums without yards, this isn't a major concern. You might be able to add a planter by your front door with some nicely arranged flowers, etc. Window boxes also work well for these types of homes.
For homes with yards, you'll definitely want to dedicate some time to the landscaping. First, be sure your grass is cut regularly (weekly is usually good) and well watered. Be sure to edge the lawn where it meets walkways, driveways, and sidewalks. Keep the hedges neatly trimmed. Refresh your mulch, preferable with a dark mulch that is watered regularly. Trim the flowers to present a healthy appearance, and if necessary, plant more. Check all of your landscape timbers (if present) and replace any that are looking a little worn. And finally, be sure to clean (and paint, if necessary) all of your lawn fixtures, such as benches, statues, birdbaths, planters, etc.
Remove trash. You'll want to not only remove trash from in front of your house, but also from in front of your neighbor's house. For townhomes and condominiums that share common grounds, you may want to contact your association, or simply remove the trash yourself. A trash-free yard gives a tidy appearance.
Wash the windows. We've all heard the expression, "I don't do windows"...and that's exactly how potential visitors may feel should your windows appear grimy or full of smeared fingerprints. Clean both the inside and outside of your windows and remove any debris that may clutter the view.
Stay Tidy. It's important to present a "tidy" appearance to potential buyers, both on the inside and out. Try to keep your yard and entrance way free from obstacles, such as hoses, bicycles, etc. Remember to put everything in its place. You never know when a potential buyer might drive by your house.
When in doubt, ask your agent to recommend ideas for increasing your curb appeal. The key is to balance curb appeal with cost. You don't want to take risks when selling your home, but you also don't want to go overboard trying to pretty it up. Remember, you're trying to keep as much money from the sale of your home as possible.
Getting a buyer to fall in love with the exterior of your home is the first challenge...once you get them through the door, you'll want to be sure that the inside is just as attractive as the outside.