Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal

What is curb appeal?

Curb appeal is the first impression your home makes. It includes anything that can be seen from the street; your home’s exterior, the garage, the driveway, porch, walkways, the yard, gardens, etc.

Why does curb appeal matter?

Many potential buyers know whether or not they even want to look at the home based on the first 15-30 seconds of seeing it. This means that if your home doesn’t look very nice from the street, it’s unlikely they will go inside to see the rest of the home. Your goal is to convince buyers your home is worth looking at.

My home looks ok, how do I know what improvements to make?

Most of us live in our homes for years before we sell. That means that over time, we can become blind to some of the things around our house or yard (those trash cans in front of the garage or the pile of flower pots in the side yard full of weeds).

The best way to be able to see these obvious flaws or areas for improvement is by taking a photograph.  Before taking photos, move cars, bikes children’s toys and other items off the driveway or lawn so you can get a clear view of the exterior.

Take photographs of the front, side and back yards as if you were going to list it today. Make sure you capture the whole view (e.g. the front of the house, the driveway, the porch, the deck, the steps, the front door, the yard, the gardens, etc.), as well as closeups of specific areas. It helps to get shots from different angles as you walk around the exterior of your home.

What needs improvement?

Now, take some time to really examine the photos you’ve taken. Does your home come across as well-maintained? Are there obvious flaws or areas that need improvement?

Start by removing any obvious clutter and eyesores including garbage and recycling bins, toys, lawn ornaments, gardening tools, ladders, etc.

Next, go around and make note of anything that requires repairs. Have a look at Repairs to Make Before Listing for an extensive list.

Finally, clean up and stage each of the following areas for maximum curb appeal.

Landscaping Yard and Gardens

This is probably the first thing you (and buyers) will notice in photos. If your grass is bare and patchy or unruly and full of weeds, this will need to be taken care of. Reseed, water regularly, and keep your lawn trimmed at a reasonable height to have it looking its best.

Next up: flower beds and shrubbery. If things have gotten a little overgrown over the summer, now is the time to trim shrubs back or thin plants out. Make sure to keep bushes trimmed and flowers deadheaded while your home is listed for sale.

If you have the opposite problem and they are looking a little sparse and sad, add some flowers or shrubs to spruce them up. If the beds are edged with stones, make sure there’s no weeds popping through. You can also add some fresh mulch to tidy things up and keep the weeds to a minimum.

Steps, Porch, Front Door, House Number

Clean up the front porch area by sweeping away cobwebs and pressure washing if necessary. Touch up or repaint the front door, as well as any house numbers, mailboxes, benches or wooden planters you may have on the front stoop. Don’t forget to clean and polish your door hardware (knob, knocker, mail slot).

Driveway and Walkways

As these will be the first step buyers will be walking on up to your house, they are vital in making a good first impression. Keep the surfaces clean by sweeping up dead leaves, dirt and other debris.  If your driveway or walkways are stained or have moss growth, you will likely want to pressure wash the surface to clean them up.

For stone walkways, keep them clear of weeds by regularly pulling them up, or using a natural weed killer (vinegar or boiling water).

Hide the Outdoor Eyesores

Garbage and recycling bins, air conditioning units, electrical boxes, water meters all have a negative impact on your home’s curb appeal. By strategically using privacy screens, wooden enclosures, paint and landscaping, you can hide all of these eyesores, so buyers only see the beauty of your home.

Lighting

One thing people often forget is taking a moment to see how their home shows at night. As most home showings are in the evenings after buyers are home from work, you need to make sure your home is appealing at dusk or later in the evening.

Proper lighting can really help your home stand out. Going beyond the basic front porch and motion-sensor garage lights, consider adding lighting throughout your landscaping and property to show off its attractive features. Spot-lights or uplighting can add a whole new dimension to your curb appeal. And with many hardware stores offering inexpensive solar options, not only will they not cost you anything extra in electricity, but you’ll never have to worry about remembering to turn them on before leaving your home.

See how proper lighting can transform the look of a home?

Seasonal Decorations

While we don’t recommend going overboard with decorations, a few tasteful pieces can go a long way in creating a good impression as buyers first approach your house. For example, thinking ahead to fall, there are many options to add some seasonal flair without going over the top. Try adding a beautiful fall wreath, some planters of mums, some lanterns on the front porch or even a few cute pumpkins.

Seasonal decorations subconsciously signal to the buyers that you partake in regular seasonal maintenance and upkeep of your home.

No matter what time of year it is, spending a little time and money to improve your home’s curb appeal will certainly help bring more buyers through and sell your home quicker.

Michael Murphy, Ottawa Realtor

Hi, I'm Michael

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