Studies show that potential home buyers make up their mind about a home within 10-30 seconds of walking through the door. Many times it is before they get to the front door due to the exterior condition, so it is critical that the exterior paint, roof, gutters, front walkway and entryway is gleaming! The reality is that no home buyer wants a home that will need work, and if the first impression is that it is unkempt, chances are they will assume the interior needs work, as well.
A 2012 article from Kiplinger's suggests that home sellers should expect to pay between 2% to 3% of their home's list price on improvements. Most sellers think that all they need to do is put a sign up in the yard to sell their home. If you want to sell within a reasonable amount of time you will need to invest in improvements that buyers now expect as standard features, which I will talk about in another blog. But for now, here are some ways to get your home's curb appeal at its best!
Pressure Wash your driveway, front walkway and sidewalk. Even if all of these are realtively new, having them clean and fresh implies to potential home buyers that the inside of the home has been taken well care of, as well.
Plant Bright Colored Annuals along walkways, in planters, and anywhere flowers can be planted. Make sure if you have planters, that there are only a few good quality planters of the right proportion. I can't count how many times I have come to the front door of a home with a small planter by the door. It feels as though the seller is doing the bare minimum. Planters need to make a statement and should be at least 3 feet high so that the eye is brought up.
Fresh Bark Dust is a must if your yard supports it. New, dark, finely chopped bark dust looks clean and tidy, just what home buyers are looking for. Do not use the reddish large chunks. They make homes look less appealing and does not give the same clean-line look.
Make sure all moss is removed and the roof and gutters are in good shape. The roof will be checked by a Home Inspector anyway, so why slow down the process?
Exterior paint is another critical item that should be on your check list. If your home needs painting due to its age or color, do it. If your home is a bright color such as yellow, tone it down. The likelihood of a buyer liking a bright yellow home is slim. Having your home painted isn't cheap, but research shows that it is much less expensive in the long run to make these changes now than wait the extra time it will take to sell "as is". Look around your neighborhood and see what the typical colors are and go from there.
Remove all cars or other vehicles from the driveway or surrounding parking areas, as well as any vehicles in the garage. You want to free up as much space as possible so that potential buyers can envision space for their vehicles. I recently drove up to a property for staging only to see a huge R.V. parked alongside the home. Suffice it to say it was all I saw!
And lastly, a new mat for the front door. I prefer the natural fiber kinds with simple borders (or none at all). Keep away from rubber mats or mats that have anything written on them except maybe "Welcome". And make sure they are clean of debris or mud.
No one likes to spend money on improvements they won't be around to enjoy. If you don't have a lot of money for improvements, the very least you should be doing is making sure the very first impression is one that will encourage potential buyers inside. Plan on at least 2 to 4 weeks of preparation prior to listing your home. A trip to a home improvement store is worth it in order to shorten the marketing time and increase the sale price.