Editor’s note: Robert Bruss is temporarily away. The following column from Bruss’ “Best of” collection first appeared Sunday, June 18, 2006.

If you are a home seller, real estate agent or a homeowner who cares about how a home looks from the street, “Curb Appeal Idea Book” by Mary Ellen Polson will anticipate your questions and help you show a home at its best. 

“You only have one chance to make a first impression” is an overused but extremely true phrase when it comes to home sales, as the author thoroughly understands. However, while studying this unusual book, I couldn’t help notice Polson presents hundreds of beautiful color photos of houses but she fails to cast even one critical word.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

As I read this one-of-a-kind book, I was very impressed by the wide variety of the hundreds of color photos of many different types of homes. Where the author located all these unique houses to illustrate her topics is hard to understand.

Although the author and photographers went to great efforts to find houses that are excellent examples of the topics under discussion, it would have been very helpful if Polson added critical comments such as “This house’s curb appeal could be enhanced by adding a Japanese maple tree or planting evergreens to add warmth to the structure.”

One thing all the color photographs have in common is fresh paint on the houses. Everything, including the patio and front porch furniture, is in pristine, near-perfect condition to add to the home’s curb appeal.

But this very complete book isn’t just about adding attractive landscaping to enhance a home’s curb appeal. It is also about home components, such as roofing materials, windows and doors, which all add attractiveness.

There are a few before-and-after houses shown, but these were major makeover projects to enhance the attractiveness and usefulness of the homes. “Big bucks” were obviously spent to re-do the houses and their landscaping to transform the exteriors.

Some of the older homes photographed before and after are virtually impossible to recognize after their major upgrades, which greatly enhanced their curb appeal. It would have been helpful to readers to see photos of less intense and less expensive renovations.

Chapter topics include “Style on the Outside”; “Exterior Appearances”; “The Entry”; “The Approach”; and “Supporting Players: Fences, Walls, Gates, Driveways, and Garages.”

As the book’s title says, this is an “idea book” about enhancing a home’s curb appeal. It is structured so a homeowner can point to a photo and say, “That’s what I like.” But occasionally I looked at some photos and said “yuk!” On my scale of one to 10, this beautiful book rates a solid 10.

“Curb Appeal Idea Book,” by Mary Ellen Polson (Taunton Press, Newtown, CT), 2006, $19.95, 165 pages; available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries, and www.Amazon.com.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center

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