By Marilyn Pribus –
You’ve probably heard the term “curb appeal” that often hovers over discussions of the marketability of a property, but just what is it?
“Curb appeal is an individual preference,” declares REALTOR® David Sloan of Sloan Manis Real Estate in Charlottesville, “but I think of a home that is well-landscaped, with a yard that is cut and green and well cared for. The house itself is bright and painted and neat and inviting. In fact, that’s the one word—inviting—that says it all, regardless of architecture, design or location.”
Studies show that many buyers won’t even get out of the car if they don’t find a place inviting. And with an estimated 80 to 90 percent of people doing online reconnaissance, never forget they can be turned off from even viewing a property based on the listing photos alone.
Addressing a place’s curb appeal is critical in marketing a property, so we’ll offer you some easy, and in many cases inexpensive, tips for maximizing exterior sales appeal. For starters, you want the property to look clean, welcoming and comfortable with that certain something that attracts potential buyers. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to provide in most cases
An Appealing Yard
We sometimes tend not to “see” things we look at all the time, like a slightly dented mailbox or a rusty downspout. Usually you just drive home, but now take time to approach your property on foot studying it carefully and critically for places to spruce it up. The yard itself offers prospective buyers their first impression, so be sure it’s in top shape.
Remove dead branches in trees and shrubbery. If landscaping is overgrown, do some judicious pruning or hire experienced yard workers. And perform the trimming at least six weeks before putting the property on the market so bushes have a chance to sprout out again.
Ensure the lawn is fresh and green. At least a month before the house will be on the market, consult with a nursery about refurbishing the lawn with quick-acting fertilizer, reseeding, or replacing bad spots with sod. Be sure it is nicely mowed all the time and edged tidily along the driveway, sidewalk and gardens.
If you already have nice flowerbeds, apply fresh mulch. If you don’t, spring for some handsome containers with cheerful, seasonal flowers by the front door. And always be sure the yard is clear of “stuff” from children’s toys to hoses on the lawn to trash cans in plain sight.
The Dwelling’s Best Foot Forward
Take a critical look at your front sidewalk, steps, and porch. If there are cracks, can they be repaired? Are there mossy bricks or mildewed concrete to clean? If you will be showing the property at night, have walkways well lighted. Inexpensive solar lighting can provide an inviting pathway to the front door.
The front door is the home’s face to the world, so be sure it’s spotless. Give it a fresh coat of stain or bright paint—red is especially inviting and seen by many as auspicious.
Be sure the doorknocker, doorbell button, and lockset are up to date and shiny and that they match each other and the house’s style. Check that your house number is clearly visible from the street and easy to read.
A seasonal wreath on the door is very appealing. Be sure porch light fixtures are dust- and spider-web free, and the bulbs work. Invest in a fresh welcome mat. If the porch or driveway is stained, consider a good scrubbing.
In fact, pressure washing is a relatively inexpensive way to freshen up any property. The appearance of driveways and sidewalks, most siding and decks can be freshened up quite easily. Pressure washers can be rented by the day.
Be sure the garage door is clean as well. If it requires repainting, opt for the same hue as the house, but in a slightly darker shade. Highlight any attractive and distinctive features your home already has. For example, you might touch up the trim and shutters if you have them. It you have a dramatic chimney, be sure it’s free of ivy and the mortar is fresh.
Buyers are especially aware of roofs because of the expense of replacement. Replace damaged or missing shingles. Be sure there are no rusty, mossy, or mildewed areas. Clean out gutters. Repaint or replace any rusty, loose, or dented gutters or downspouts.
Window glass should be sparkling clean inside and out. Take a good look at your windows from the outside and, if possible, have the curtains or blinds look more or less uniform. Having the blinds raised and curtains open is friendly instead of looking like there might be something to hide. If visitors are expected on a gloomy day or in the evening, welcome them by having all rooms brightly lit.
Consider replacing your mailbox or, at the very least, repainting it. Straighten your rural mailbox post and paint it to match your house or front door. You can even plant a small garden around the post.
Always remember REALTOR® Sloan’s key word for curb appeal: “Inviting!”
Marilyn Pribus and her husband live in Albemarle County near Charlottesville. When they sold their California home, their REALTOR® recommended serious pruning of shrubbery which did indeed make the house seem more welcoming.