Wednesday, July 29, 2015 / by Bill Berning*
Is your home ready for sale from the inside out? Most home owners know that interior staging is essential to selling a home quickly and for the most profit, but too many home owners don’t think to expand their staging vision to the outdoors. Your home needs to be appealing to buyers the moment they set foot on the curb – hence, the term “curb appeal”. Sure, we’re told not to judge a book by its cover, but making that excellent first impression on a buyer is often key to making a sale.
Maximizing your home’s curb appeal goes by many of the same principles as interior staging and design, but can also be very much its own beast as far as improvements and renovations go. If you’re a seller who is strapped for time, don’t box yourself in with the idea that real curb appeal projects can only be accomplished by calling in the construction company. These curb appeal ideas can help you give your home an outdoor makeover in the span of a single afternoon.
Tidying Up for Guests
Of course, the most basic of curb appeal tips is to keep your lawn and home tidy and well-maintained. Not only is this far more visually appealing to sellers, but it’s also much safer – dead branches can trip visitors and knock out power lines and windows, badly-maintained ponds and pools can attract nasty insect pests, and so on. Tidying your home’s face to the world should be your first priority in curb appeal, before you start on any other improvements.
Rake leaves, run the lawnmower, collect branches and clear dead plants and associated other debris – your home is looking better already, and you’ve only just started. For more advanced cleaning projects, give your home’s exterior a fresh coat of paint and/or new siding, repave your driveway, and have your roof patched and re-tiled. You might consider hiring a team of professionals for some of these projects if you’re strapped for time, or enlist some interested friends and family members (or at least some friends and family members that owe you favors) – many hands make light work, after all.
An outdoor pest problem isn’t something that you can hide from a buyer for long, especially with the evidence buzzing right in front of their face. It’s an issue that will subtly decrease a buyer’s opinion of the house, and one that they may wind up demanding concessions on if the problem is especially noticeable. Severe pest control problems are best left to the professionals, but a few buzzing insects can be taken care of personally, and often without the use of dangerous, work-intensive, and smelly pesticides. Consider what the pest problem is, and you’ll be able to trace it back to the cause. With the example of mosquitos, inspect your yard to see if there are any shady, damp areas or stagnant water. Draining and cleaning pools and manmade ponds and fountains will often clear up the issue dramatically, all without the use of dangerous pesticides. For issues with bees and wasps, redirect their attention away from your home by planting a pollinator-friendly garden a safe distance away from the house: asters and sunflowers are not only lovely additions to your curb appeal goals, but are prime feeding locations for honeybees. Don’t try to eradicate these bugs: while they might intrude on you sometime, they’re vital for keeping your garden growing and healthy.
Installing Some Home Improvements
Now that your home’s canvas is clean, you’re ready to start beautifying it. While you may be tempted to just edge the house with flowers and call it a day, there’s so much more that can be done to make your home truly stand out. Consider, for example, taking curb appeal right to the curb itself. Many homeowners neglect to pay attention to the line where their lawn meets the sidewalk, and allow it to be drab, dull, and even damaged from road salt and foot traffic. A low fence is always a lovely addition here, and you can accent it with climbing vines. Add charm to your standing mailbox by surrounding it with a small floral garden – however, be certain any tall plants or shrubbery you add doesn’t block your mailman’s view. Get floral accents without getting down in the dirt by buying them pre-grown in ornamental pottery from your local gardening supply store. Edging your walkway and entryway with these potted additions is simple, fast, and provides great looks on the cheap. Apply the same principles to your windows: window-boxes are an easy install, and can help any home’s paint job really pop.
When installing improvements, approach with caution. Remember that a potential buyer will have to be the one to keep up with maintenance and repairs, and don’t install something that’s too daunting. For example, take an outdoor fountain or pond. While undeniably attractive and unique, these features come with a great deal of upkeep: they must be cleaned, maintained, and repaired; otherwise they’re nothing but an outdoor paperweight and an invitation for mosquitos, respectively. A vast, lovely garden wows on entry, but will require long afternoons of weed-pulling and high water bills to keep it looking its best – not something that appeals to buyers who aren’t already gardening fanatics. Unless you’re confident in your ability to sell the house regardless of a buyer’s reservations on outdoor upkeep, you may wish to reconsider any high-maintenance installations.
Paying attention to your home’s outdoor curb appeal is often overlooked by sellers, despite its huge importance in making a great first impression. Make your home stand out on the real estate market by making it stand out on the streets of your town itself. Even the smallest curb appeal efforts go a long way, and a single afternoon spent beautifying your outdoors will reap rich rewards.