If you’re not familiar with the term “curb appeal,” it literally means how your home looks and presents itself from the curb. When a prospective buyer drives up to your house, it will take them a tenth of a second to form an opinion.
If the lawn is shabby and brown, a potential buyer will be turned off. Peeling and faded paint, dead shrubs and bushes, and an unkempt yard full of debris may seem like minor blemishes, but they are major eyesores to the buyer. Your home’s interior may be everything they’ve ever wanted, but if the front disappoints, they are less likely to make an offer on your house. And if they do offer, they are more likely to offer a lower price.
To sell your home, you have to think aspirational. You’re selling a lifestyle, a vision, a story that buyers can see themselves in. You want your curb appeal to sing. And here are four tips to make that happen.
Start at the Curb
To maximize your home’s curb appeal, put yourself in the buyer’s position and take a walk in their shoes. HGTV suggests getting in your car and driving by your house slowly from both directions. Then get out of the car and walk up the driveway and to the front door. Is the paint peeling? Is the driveway stained? Make a note of everything that needs repairing, cleaning or replacing.
You want to look at your house from every angle at different times of the day. Different perspectives and lighting can reveal a defect you might have missed or even an errant Frisbee on the roof.
For a stained driveway or dirty siding, rent a power washer from your local hardware store. It won’t take more than an afternoon and you may find that you don’t need to repaint the exterior of your home once it’s sparkling clean. Missing roof tiles? Another easy fix with a trip to the hardware store.
Even if you think everything looks pretty good, replacing your mailbox and house numbers can give your curb appeal a little bump.
Exterior House Colors: How to Paint Your House to Sell
Most potential buyers are looking for a turnkey home they can live in right away. This means the aesthetics of your home need to be up-to-date and on-trend. It also means that unless you repainted the exterior of your house recently, the color palette could probably use a refresh. Some popular schemes include: canary yellow and soft grey; ivory, white and aqua; and cool green, butter yellow and pure white.
If you can’t afford to paint the entire house, focus on updating the trim, shutters, and front door. This can give your home a fresh, new look. (We also suggest reading How Paint Color Can Affect Your Home’s Value.)
Revive Your Landscaping
Improving curb appeal to potential buyers has as much to with your front yard as it does your actual house. The first order of business is to remove all dead or dying foliage or grass and trim any overgrowth.
Next, you’ll want to replace these plants with climate-specific landscaping.
- Use drought-tolerant plants such as succulents and Mexican feather grass in dry climates
- Plant frost-proof plants such as lily-of-the-valley in areas with extreme cold weather
- If your region gets a lot of rain, try landscaping with foxglove
Buyers appreciate climate specific landscaping because it tends to be lower maintenance and results in a lower water bill. This way, not only do they look better than dead bushes, but they can also be listed as a feature. Win-win!
If the exterior of your house has a muted color scheme, you can add vibrancy by planting flowers (or flowering succulents in dry climates) in planters on either side of the front door, in a flower box in front of a window, or bordering the walkway to the front door. (Read more at 5 DIY Landscaping Ideas for FSBO Sellers).
At The Very Least, Tidy Up
If you’re in a hurry to sell your home or can’t afford to make major improvements, there are a few things that can improve curb appeal right away. First, clean the front yard of toys, bikes, gardening equipment and debris. Rake the leaves, coil up the hose nicely, mow the lawn, get rid of cobwebs, etc.
Second, open the curtains and blinds. This creates a more inviting house to enter and brighter rooms once inside. If your window screens are dark, you can even remove the screens and store them neatly in the garage. This will allow more natural light in.
A lot of home sellers focus on the inside of their house because from their perspective, that’s where the living happens. And they’re not wrong. But to a prospective buyer, the outside is just as, if not more important because it’s how they “meet” your house for the first time. Sprucing up the exterior will give buyers the best first impression and give you the best chance of receiving multiple offers.