It's an eye-opening realization for home sellers everywhere - no matter how much time, money, and work is invested into the interior of the home, buyers may never even see it if they lose interest at the curb.
Just as the right wardrobe is important for conveying professionalism in business, the visual appearance of a home, especially one that needs to attract qualified buyers, is vitally important to a successful sale. But what does a prospective buyer hope to see when they arrive at the curb? What will make them eager to enter into the home in order to see more?
The Basics of Curb Appeal
The first rule of curb appeal is simple: make sure that everything the buyer sees outside the home is clean and neat. Just like people, houses can begin to look unkempt and unwelcoming when basic hygiene needs are overlooked or haphazardly met.
Sellers who want their homes to offer good basic curb appeal to prospective buyers must:
- make sure that the lawn is cut and trimmed regularly (in addition to making the home look neater, regular grass cutting and care helps to establish a healthier, thicker lawn that will look more lush and inviting to buyers)
- make sure the exterior of the home is always tidy by removing stray branches and sticks after a storm, keeping leaves and debris cleared from the lawn and roof top, and removing dead flowers and plants from gardens, flower beds, and planters
- make sure that tools and equipment are always put away after use and not left to be seen from the curb, including lawn and garden tools, mowers, gas cans, and garbage and refuse containers
- make sure that the exterior surfaces of the home are clean and neat by washing dirty or moldy siding, cleaning windows and screens, keeping porches swept and neatly organized, removing stray cobwebs, scrubbing the stains off the driveway and side walks, and keeping garage doors closed
Curing Specific Curb Appeal Issues
Once the basics requirements of curb appeal have been addressed, it is time to focus on specific curb appeal issues that are likely to cause prospective buyers to question the quality of the home.
Some of these issues include:
- roof and guttering condition issues, including missing or curled shingles, noticeable repair patches or staining, missing, overflowing, or damaged guttering or downspouts
- torn or missing window and door screens
- porch posts or railings that are leaning or damaged
- missing or damaged pieces of siding or trim
- missing or crooked window shutters
- missing or damaged bricks and visible damage or cracking to masonry walls or structures
- damaged or sagging stairs
- severely cracked or broken sidewalks, drive ways, or porches
- bald or damaged patches in the lawn
- storm damaged trees or bushes
Sellers who note these types of issues are likely to cross the home off their list and move on to others. Even if they do not lose interest, any offer they might make is likely to be well under the asking price. Sellers who remedy these condition issues before placing the home on the market are far more likely to get higher levels of buyer interest and much more reasonable purchase offers.
Add Extra Interest With a Special Feature or Focal Point
When basic curb appeal issues have been take care of, sellers who want the best selling experience should turn their attention to adding additional features to increase their home's curb appeal and potential buyer activity. This is most easily done by considering currently popular real estate trends in your area and deciding how they can be adapted to your home. Outdoor living spaces are a good example of a popular real estate trend capable of exciting buyer interest.
While some outdoor living spaces, especially those featured on reality television, are lavish and prohibitively expensive, buyers in most markets are sure to be impressed with much more affordable DIY versions. To do this, sellers can choose a level area of the lawn, install a simple pad using readily available paving stones, and then add a portable fire pit and comfortable lounge chairs to create a rustic, relaxing outdoor living space that buyers will notice and appreciate.
Your Real Estate Agent can Help
Because curb appeal destroying condition issues can develop slowly over time, sellers may have difficulty recognizing each one that needs attention before listing the home. They can also draw a blank when trying to determine what type of focal point they may want to add to the exterior of their home. Since real estate professionals are trained to notice condition issues that have the potential to impact the sales potential of their listings and visualize potential improvements, sellers should consider asking their agent to tour their home, inside and out, with them well before putting the home on the market.