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Curb Appeal and why it matters

Curb appeal is the phrase describing the view that buyers see when they drive by your home or arrive for a showing. Based on their initial impression, most buyers decide whether or not to continue interest in a house, so it’s smart to take steps to ensure that they won’t turn away before they even have a change to see the interior. Savvy home sellers give top priority to improving their home’s curb appeal. You’d do well to follow suit.

Detach Yourself
It can be somewhat difficult to look at your own house the same way a potential buyer would, especially if you’ve been there awhile. However, once we’ve become accustomed to the way that something looks, it becomes harder for us to see faults. The best idea is to open your eyes and stop thinking of this as your home. Once you start seeing it as the commodity it is, something you want to sell for the highest possible bid, then you will have an easier time seeing it as if through a buyer’s eyes.

Discovering Current Curb Appeal
Take a drive and upon your return home, park across the street, get out and try to get a view of the house and its surroundings. Try to view the property from the distance and direction as a potential buyer driving by.

* If you were seeing the house and yard for the first time, what would be your first impression?
* What do you consider the best exterior features of your home? What can you do to help them stand out?
* What do you consider the worst exterior features? What can you do improve them or eliminate them?
* Walk towards the house, and take note of what you see. Is the path clean and tidy? Is the driveway clear of gravel or rocks?
* Take a good look at your property’s appearance and then begin making a list of all the positive and negative that you find.
* Try taking pictures in both in color and then black and white. It might become easier to see problems if the color isn’t there to affect your senses.

Evening Appeal is Important
Curb appeal should also be visible during evening hours because often potential buyers drive by houses in the evening. It is a good idea to invest in outdoor lighting, and can be done relatively inexpensive. Here are some ideas of what you can do to help curb appeal at night:

* Find an attractive light fixture to the front porch.
* Add a beautiful street lamp near the driveway.
* Find outdoor lights, such as solar lights which work when receiving sun each day. There are also electric versions but you will need to find some way to hide the cords, such as along the porch or under the driveway.
* Lighting that’s visible through front windows should enhance the home’s appearance. Leave lights on through at least one or two windows, because this will enhance your “homey” feel, particularly at night.
* Consider stringing low voltage lights along sidewalks, driveway or even landscaping elements, if there are some.

Backyard View
If your back yard is visible from someone’s driveway or another street, buyers will try to see it so be sure to include the backyard as part of your efforts. It’s a good idea to have the backyard arranged for those who will visit during shows, but especially important to make the parts that are visible appear well maintained and cultivated.

Other Ideas
Here are a few tips that you might not think of immediately to help spruce up your curb appeal:

* Clean all windows, inside and out.
* Buyers often notice dirty gutters first.
* Kill any mildew or mold on the house, the driveway, the sidewalks or even the roof. Nothing turns off a buyer faster than mold they can see or smell.
* Stow away unnecessary garden implements and tools.
* If needed, pressure wash dirty siding or decks… pressure washing is much more effective than spraying them down with a hose.
* Keep sidewalks and driveways clean. If oil spots are on the driveway, you can take them out by using a little oven cleaner. It will take out of most everything.
* Mow the lawn every week. If weeds pop up in any flower beds, cracks in the sidewalks or even the grass, get rid of them.
* Rake and dispose of fallen leaves, even if you have a wooded lot.
* Edge your sidewalks and remove any vegetation growing between bricks or concrete.
* Trim tree limbs that are near or touching the roof.
* Shovel snow and keep all walk ways and driveways clear of snow or ice. Do not use salt, as it can damage concrete or cars, but rather, find ice melt at a hardware store.
* Remove icicles from overhangs or roof too avoid falling ice.

Landscaping Decisions
It might add to your curb appeal by adding landscaping elements, but keep in mind that sometimes removing something is just as effective, if not more so. If a large brick house with large columns in front had tall evergreens planted in front of each column, they might eventually grow taller than the roof. Although beautiful trees, they would eventually obscure the columns, possibly windows as well, and would make the front of the house difficult to see. Listen to your realtor or consult with a landscaper or interior designer (with outside expertise as well of course) and they might suggest taking out the trees. If landscaping keeps the buyer from seeing the true character of the house, they may not have the imagination to picture the house without it. Although you may have emotional ties to something in particular, remember that you are trying to see the home as a potential buyer would. Another thing to consider is that if you are unwilling to make changes, a buyer who can visualize the change might expect you to reduce the price of the house to compensate for the work involved.

Other Enhancements

* If possible, a new paint job can do wonders for any house. Remember to pick neutral colors or consider giving the buyer a paint allowance and letting them pick their own colors.
* Take a look at your front door and decide if something updated or with windows or glass might be more attractive.
* Think about replacing plain doorknobs with newer or updated knobs.
* f any of the enhancements listed above are out of your budget reach, don’t underestimate the importance of repainting your door, polishing the hardware or any other small but effective details.

There is a solution to every problem, and most will even allow you to stay within your budget, all it takes is some thought.