If you’re a homeowner, you’ve no doubt heard the term “curb appeal”–that somewhat subjective first impression that your home makes to a visitor seeing it for the first time. If you’re thinking of selling your home this spring or even if you just want to spruce things up so the neighbors will love you again, here are some tips to consider:
Take an overview: You’ve probably stepped over that cracked walkway a hundred times, and you don’t even notice the faded paint job anymore. But someone approaching your home for the first time certainly will, and it can be the difference between someone coming in for a closer look or just driving on by. So, step back and take a good look at your home through the eyes of prospective buyers. Put yourself in their shoes, and make a written list of those things that might raise some concerns for you if you were thinking of buying the house. If you don’t think you can be objective enough, then ask your real estate agent or even a friend or neighbor to do it for you. And while the front of the house is the primary focal point, don’t overlook the sides and rear of the house as well.
How’s that roof look? A bad roof can indicate a home that has suffered from a general lack of maintenance, and may point a finger at potential structural and even mold problems resulting from leaks. Roofs are expensive to replace, but depending on your market and your desire to reap top dollar from the sale, you may want to take a hard look at the economics of re-roofing. And if you’ve been considering just crediting the cost of new roof to the buyer in escrow, bear in mind that you’ll probably get more potential buyers and a higher sales price if you take care of the roof yourself before even putting the home on the market.
Paint is your new best friend: Few things help your home show better than a fresh coat of paint. If you’re handy with a brush and an airless sprayer, you just might want to undertake the project yourself. A long weekend and a few hundred dollars in paint can make a world of difference in how well the home shows and how quickly it sells. If you don’t want to paint the entire house–or if it doesn’t really need it–just painting the trim, exterior doors, garage door, or window shutters can make a big difference as well.
Make necessary repairs: They may seem like little things, but making sure that everything is in proper working order can make a huge difference in how people perceive your house and the care you have taken with it as a homeowner. Fix cracked concrete walkways, and reset loose bricks. Make sure exterior knobs and locks all work properly. Replace cracked or splintered trim boards and deck boards. Make sure fences are sturdy, and gates work as they should. Repair broken window screens. Put up some bright new house numbers. And don’t forget to squirt a little oil on those squeaky hinges.
A little landscaping goes a long way: You don’t need a complete makeover to make a big difference in how your yard looks, and once again, landscaping and yard maintenance say a lot about how you’ve cared for the house over the years. If you have a lawn, fertilize and water it regularly to green it up, and run an edger along sidewalks and driveway edges. Rake up leaves and pine needles. Repair sprinkler systems. Prune back those wild shrubs, and trim overhanging tree branches. Head down to the local nursery and pick up some bright flowers to create borders and accent areas that will add both color and a feeling of hominess to the yard.
Don’t forget the night view: A home that shows well at night really creates an impression. Replace any burned out light bulbs, and consider adding a timer or two to keep the lights on a little longer into the evening. Consider some low-voltage or solar lights to accent front walkways, and maybe provide up lighting to accent trees and larger shrubbery. Keep a light or two on in the front windows as well, to add to the feeling of coziness and comfort.
Clean up your act: Finally, spend some quality time with a broom, a pressure washer, and a bucket, and give every part of your home a good thorough cleaning. If you’re not going to paint, wash down the siding to remove dirt and stains and get it looking fresh and clean. Wash driveways, walkways, and patios. If you have a wood deck, consider a complete cleaning to restore the wood to a fresher look. Wash all the windows, inside and out, and wash the screens as well. Polish doorknobs and light fixtures. Stow all of your garden tools and kids’ toys away to remove clutter and potential tripping hazards. And take a trip–or five–to the local landfill and dump all that stuff that’s accumulated in and around the yard.
Remodeling and repair questions? E-mail Paul at email@example.com.