Maximize Your Curb Appeal and Improve Your First Impressions

We all know that a home or property of any kind, in order to sell faster and at a higher price, should have what is known as curb appeal. Frequently, it is not the expensive things that make a difference. Here are some things that can be done.

Keep the grass cut, not too short, but well groomed and frequently – you never know what day a prospective buyer will drive by. Include edging along all sidewalks, driveway, and other trim items. Use the weed eater around all areas where the weeds grow up. Use hedge clippers on every possible hedge and bush. In particular, trim down any and all hedges that block views from any windows or cut down on light coming in the windows. Use lots and lots of thick, fresh, mulch. Mulch is inexpensive but does wonders in dressing up a home. If your yard or acreage has been let go too long. You may just want hire a helper or start
with a professional service like Morris Pressure Washing Service the first time and then keep up the property yourself if you want. If you have to hire a lawn and gardening service to keep the property in pristine shape, during the for-sale period, please do so. Well maintained grounds are key to best selling and a few hundred dollars during the sale period will bring you thousands more in price.

Make the property and the home inviting and showcase it by using bright colored flowers; red and yellow flowers of the brightest colors are the best. Keep the flowers well maintained and the beds well kept. Buyers won’t likely see other homes in your price range with similar floral treatments and your home will rise to the top of the buyer’s list.

Repair, paint, and renew, all outdoor furniture, porch furniture and decorations and all decorative items on the property. This includes the mailbox, if there is one. In fact, a bed of mulch, flowers, shrubs, to decorate the base of the mailbox can be a great first impression if it’s well done and well kept.

Open the windows daily or turn on all the vent fans in kitchen and baths to freshen the air in the home. Many people are allergic to perfumes, spices and aerosol sprays so don’t do the old tricks of potpourri, aerosol air fresheners, etc. Vanilla extract is usually safe. You can use some REAL vanilla extract, a few drops, on a piece of bread and put it in the oven on lowest (about 100 degrees) heat for 20 minutes or so before the house is shown. You can buy or rent electronic room deodorizers to freshen the air with filtration. If you have pets, a thorough cleaning and daily vacuuming and constant running of air cleaning units is a great idea. There are lots of people who are allergic to pet dander and the slightest smell of cats or dogs will kill the sale.

Rent a storage unit if needed, have at least one and better yet two or three yard sales and get rid of more and more of the stuff that you no longer need or use. Clean out the attic and TOTALLY organize it. Clean out the garage and out buildings and totally organize anything left inside. The more stuff you have OUT of the garage, attic, storage buildings and out of the yard (if it’s not a landscaping asset) and the more you get out of the closets the more spacious the home seems to buyers.

Even a cleaned out, emptied out and fully organized garage, looks far larger and better if the cars are out of it. Before the showing, move ALL of the cars to another location, down the street (not in front of the house) or to a neighbors house or driveway. There should be NO cars in the garage, in the driveway or in front of the house when the buyer arrives with the agent.

Go through the entire home and get rid of most of the nick-knacks and about three quarters of everything else. Go to a model home or a furniture show room and study, perhaps even take pictures, of how they are decorated. Clean the home, clean the shelves and tops of things – until your property shows like a model home. This goes for every room in the house! Clean off the counters in the kitchen, clean up or put in storage MOST of the stuff in the kids rooms (everything that they don’t use a lot) and get rid of any old paperback books or unsightly books on the book shelves. If the book shelves are packed, open up the shelves by putting over half of the books in storage, or sell them at the yard sale. Remove a lot of the furniture and sell what you don’t want to keep at the next home, or put lots of it in storage. Dust and polish everything!

Remove all of the family pictures from the walls and furniture tops. Remove all of the non-professional pictures and art from the walls. Mend the holes. Family pictures, a very few, in the master bedroom and in the kids rooms, however, make the home seem like a happy home.

If you have a fireplace. Clean it up. Clean it out with concrete and brick cleaners and clean all the bricks and the inside of the fireplace with the appropriate professional cleaners from the fireplace store or building supply stores. In the winter, especially if it’s cold or dreary and overcast outside, light the fire before the showing. In this case, stay with the fire until the Realtor gets there and then just go a short space away, to a neighbors house for instance, and return (for safety sake) as soon as the Realtor leaves. Just be certain that if you get ANY smoke in the home when lighting the fire, air out the home fully before the showing. It’s great to build and establish the fire a half hour before the showing.

Make certain to wash all the windows inside and outside the home, this includes second story windows, storm windows and pressure washing or brushing and soaping all the screens too. If there is a screened porch, make certain all the screens are in perfect repair, well stretched and well cleaned. Keep every piece of glass and mirror inside the home sparkling clean.

Flower boxes are a great and profitable touch. The perennial favorite is bright red geraniums in outside window boxes, under all the windows that can be viewed from the street. There is very little that can elevate the curb appeal of a home like geraniums in window boxes, and they are inexpensive to do!

Clean, organize and clean out all the cupboards, drawers and cabinets in the kitchens and baths. Buyers frequently pull out drawers in the kitchen and bath and open cupboards to better see the size and quality of construction as well as the quality of drawer runners, whether there are pull out shelves, etc. Wow them with the quality of your inside cupboards and drawers in the kitchen and baths.

Note: You should leave the home during the time the agent is showing the house. Leave just before they get there or immediately upon their arrival. Sellers in the home are deal killers. The prospective buyers are uncomfortable speaking about the property to the agent and uncomfortable even looking too carefully at the home, if the seller is present.

Fencing is another area where you get far more back than you spend, with increased sales price and reduced time on the market! The new white vinyl fencing is a great investment to increase the value of your home, above the cost of the fencing, and set your home apart from all the others on the market.

Even condos and townhouses need to have curb appeal. If there is no yard; make certain that every bit of the steps, sidewalk, and entrance is clean, neat and in good repair. Check with the condo association to see if they will immediately and professionally repair anything that needs to be done. It is to the advantage of every owner in the complex to have your home sell for as much as possible and as fast as possible; that increases the value and salability of every unit in the association. Make certain your entrance door and surrounding areas are LOOKING GOOD!

Check all around your unit; check the parking lot and surrounding grounds; check the community landscaping too. If something needs to be done, find out if the association will attend to it, or if you can do the work yourself in some cases. For instance, if edging and weed pulling need to be done, you may be allowed to do the work near your unit. If you have concrete sidewalk and steps, for instance, just brushing on and scrubbing them with bleach will do a lot to improve the looks and first impression.

Bleach does wonders. If there is ANY mold and mildew on the outside of the home, a pressure washing with bleach will clean it and kill the mold and mildew. In case of wood siding and shingles, pressure washing with bleach (consider the double or triple strength Sodium Hypochlorite, same as bleach but stronger) will clean up wood shingles and make them look renewed. You can also use oxalic acid wood bleach or one of the professional wood and shingle cleaners. Pay attention to the labels these are effective chemicals and strong!

Proper and efficient landscaping and image enhancing techniques like these will usually add at least 15% and as much as 25% to the perceived value and thus the sales price and appraisal value of a home. Most of these techniques will bring you at least $4 back for every $1 spent.

Curb appeal should be suitably powerful that it causes people driving by the home at ten to thirty miles per hour to stop or at least turn their heads to look at your property as they go by. With a sale sign from the Realtor on your property, and great curb appeal, you should get lots and lots of people stopping, writing down the sign information and picking up brochures from the brochure box attached to the sign. Curb appeal sells!

Maximize your curb appeal and improve your first impressions when you want to sell your property. Otherwise, you will be selling slower and for less money than you will with the use of these tips.