You'll often hear the term by real estate professionals, “Curbside Appeal".
Curbside appeal is the expression pertaining to the first impression a potential buyer will have when they approach a property.
The home may be perfect for them, but if that first impression turns the buyer away, then it can be a lose-lose situation for both buyer and seller.
Normally, if you're like most people, you come and go without ever really paying attention to the appearance of your house.
The next time you return to your home after a day's work or come back after shopping for groceries, just stop for a moment and look at what your home really looks like from the curb.
It would be a good idea for you to go outside and take a good look at what someone would see if they stopped at our house.
You might even jump into your SUV and do a drive-by in both directions. What do you see? Does anything in particular grab your attention?
You might just pretend you're a buyer. You saw online that this home is for sale. You're interested, so you decide to drive past to see what it really looks like.
What are you going to see?
You may be so used to your home, even after this, that you may not notice what other potential buyers are going to see.
You might ask a couple of friends to do a drive-by and give you an honest opinion.
● FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARE VERY IMPORTANT
When buyers approach your home, the first thing they do is give it a quick overall glance at the lawn and the façade of your home. Just in that brief moment, they drive on with an impression of what they noticed.
That should be your entry, the yard and landscaping, your driveway and the roof.
This impression is what they get from a passing glance and it can seriously affect the feeling they come away with. Will they want to see more or have they seen enough to feel they aren't interested?
● CURB APPEAL AND YOUR FRONT ENTRY
The center of your curb appeal is the front entry. This deserves plenty of attention. The lighting is critical. It doesn't have to be expensive but if your entry lighting doesn't stand out, you can pick up something attractive at most hardware stores. This is something that most homeowners can do by themselves.
Entry lighting can be a long-lasting inexpensive LED or if you live where there is plenty of sunshine solar lighting is available as well, and costs nothing to cast a warm welcoming light at your entry every night.
Don't neglect that front door. It's what everybody has to see when they near your home. A fresh paint job will do wonders. If you have shutters at the front windows, they should be painted as well. A fresh coat of paint on your house's façade will do wonders to make a buyer want to see more.
If you simply can't paint or afford to hire a painter, at least make sure your door is clean and polished.
Check the doorbell to make sure it's okay. Polish any metal, including, if feasible, the numbers of your house. No cobwebs or dead insects clinging to the front of your home and make sure you have checked to see if your dog has pooped.
If there is anything seasonal going on, such as the arrival of autumn, get an autumnal wreath for the front door.
Impressive potted plants are very inviting to potential buyers. The larger they are and the brighter the colors of the pots, the better.
Next, check the path up to your entry. If your pathway is concrete and if you can afford to do it, you may want to consider upgrading it to a cobblestone, tile or brick to make a really attractive and welcoming pathway to your front door. The cost will be repaid when your buyer pays top dollar for your home.
The mailbox may need replacing, or at least a good clean an polish.
Be sure to have or buy a bright welcome mat for the entry.
If you have any sort of front porch, perhaps you might have a rocking chair or a bench. Any such object on that porch tells a potential buyer that this is a pleasant and comfortable home where people can relax.
Another idea that many have found useful is to add an arbor at the curb to draw people onto your new pathway.
And if you do have a porch or any covered seating area in front, you might add some outdoor curtains. They don't have to have any special purpose but just add a touch of fresh color.
● LUXURY LANDSCAPING
You may not care much about flowers or landscaping, but when it comes time to sell your home, it a great idea to brighten your walkway with colorful flowers. You might have them around the driveway as well as on your porch.
Unless you know something about landscaping, it may be wise to get some tips from a landscaper. Most of them can assist you in laying out the best choices and suggest some ideas for the best plants or flowers for your home.
Just don't make the mistake that many homeowners must share the guilt: That's trying to do landscaping without a plan. Attractive landscaping requires attention because it's really very important.
You can talk to any local nursery. Staff are usually quite willing to help you, give yout tips and even help with planning before you invest a penny.
When you do plant, it's also important that the overall effect appears natural. It should be neat and attractive but at the same time, look natural, as if Mother Nature had dropped by and helped.
A variety of plants should include at least some that bloom all year. Remember, some plants such as azaleas only bloom a couple of times a year. You can find someone in the family to weed regularly too.
Get rid of any dead blooms and with a weekly weeding, you'll be sure that buyers are going to see a clean, well-maintained home.
If you have fencing, make sure it's in good shape. Buyers are not going to be impressed by a fence that rusty, bent or falling apart.
If you aren't able to mow the lawn, there is almost always some kid in the neighborhood who will do it for little money. Many landscapers will come around on a regular basis. Most of them are not too expensive.
● YOUR DRIVEWAY AND WALKWAY
A homebuyer is certain to notice your driveway. Things that don’t bother you, will bother them. Don't allow any toys, bicycles or anything else to detract from the driveway's appearance.
Driveways and walkways should be in good repair. Anything such as missing bricks, cracks in the concrete or asphalt are not only unsightly but can be a danger as well causing someone to catch a heel or toe making them fall.
This may be a good time to call in a paving contractor. The representative can assess the condition of our driveway and/or walkway and advice you on the best way to go.
An asphalt topcoat usually runs at about $2.00 per square foot. If the concrete driveway is badly damaged, asphalt is probably not the answer. New concrete should be laid.
While ou're looking at the driveway, notice the lighting. Is there lighting? If not, or of the lighting is dated and/or ineffective, now's the time to replace it with attractive lighting, something that matches your entry lighting.
Plants or rocks along the driveway help to make everything about your home more attractive as well.
Now's the time to raise your sights! Just get back and study your roof from the sidewalk. For most buyers, your roof is going to be a major concern.
You can have a roofer check the roof and give your a professional statement in writing that it's in good shape for a certain number of years.
Chances are, your gutters need cleaning. All you need is a ladder. You can clean them out yourself. While you're up there, check to make sure that the gutters aren's loose and sagging or getting ready to fall.
If there is anything on the roof such as needles, dead leaves or your son's softball glove, be sure to sweep it clean. If the roof is in bad shape, you may consider having a new roof installed. If you simply can't afford a new roof, you can have a professional give it a good cleaning.
Another trick every homeowner should know is to get out to the curb and take a photo. Study the photo and you're likely to see details you never noticed before.
Your takeaway here is to bear in mind that the time and money you spend on the improvement of your curb appeal, the more it will pay for itself when you get the right price for your home.
The more difficult it will be for a potential buyer to uses some excuse, such as the bad driveway, to make a lower offer. A few hundred dollars and a little time spent on the improvement of your home's curb appeal will more than repay you when the sale closes.
Just take your time and do it right. You'll be glad you did.