If homeowners could see their properties through buyers’ eyes, our jobs would be so much easier. Providing that buyer’s-eye view is something you, as their agent, need to do whenever they decide to sell.
The place to start is, of course, at the curb. Here’s a checklist of curb appeal items to review with your sellers. Many involve inexpensive and straightforward fixes they or their landscaping person can undertake, now that temperate fall weather is here.
6 ways to spruce up the yard
Rake those leaves
In fall, this can be a daily requirement to keep a property looking visitor ready.
Trim the shrubs
Among the fastest ways to create a horrible first impression is to let shrubbery obscure the entry and hang over the front walk like the ghost of Halloween past. Help sellers figure out how to use shrubs to showcase their entry instead of burying it.
Mow and edge
Reasonably or not, tidiness conveys the impression that owners take extra good care of an entire property. So, ban the kids’ toys until the property sells, and have sellers keep their yard hospital neat.
And make sure sellers figure out who’s going to keep this yard maintenance program going until the leaves quit falling, and the grass is covered in snow, at which point their snow shoveling and driveway and walk clearing crews take over.
Add finishing touches
Finally, while the weather holds, sellers should take advantage of the opportunity to:
- Reseed bare spots in the lawn
- Revive planters with seasonal color
- Replant and mulch the flower beds
4 ways to communicate ‘this is a well-maintained home’
Clear the gutters
Better yet, have gutter guards installed before leaves start to drop. And clear tree branches off the roof when the leaves are gone.
Touch up peeling paint
Nothing makes a house look shabbier than patches of bare wood surrounded by deteriorating paint. And it’s so easy to fix.
Rejuvenate the fences
Good fences make good neighbors — and an excellent first impression. Leaning, decaying fences? Not so much. If sellers can’t afford to replace a fence that’s seen better days, they (or their handyperson) can at least prop it up and power-wash it.
Refresh the mailbox
Sellers tend to overlook practical items like the mailbox, which is the first thing buyers likely see. Generally, installing a new box (with house numbers!) is the easiest, fastest way to refresh this area without calling undue attention.
However, if it’s a prominent fixture, it’s best to install something in keeping with the home’s architecture and landscape the area, so it fits with the overall planting scheme.
2 ways to make it easy to find the property address
Encourage your sellers to draw attention to their address, so buyers are confident they’re in the right spot. Freshen paint on numerals stenciled on the curb. Larger numbers, where architecturally appropriate, do their job artfully — especially if you spotlight them.
Also, take advantage of the knowledge that, at some point, you’ll be entering a listing and will have the chance to provide directions to the property. Why not try out several routes yourself in advance of that so you can direct buyers and their agents to the most attractive ones?
Create an entry that wows in 3 easy steps
Amp up the hardscape
A vast expanse of concrete driveway greets buyers driving up to most homes. Often, a path takes off from the driveway toward the front entry. But the residents rarely use it.
Sellers can immediately improve their curb appeal by power-washing all that concrete power and dressing up the path. Staining the concrete, lining the walkway with low hedges or other plantings, or installing stone or brick borders are all ways to quickly elevate the importance of the path the home’s buyers will be treading, whether the current residents use it or not.
Spruce up the entry
Evaluate everything from the porch light, doormat, seating and plants to the front door and its hardware. At minimum, everything needs to be cleaned or replaced. Make sure that the lock works and that the doorknob looks like a medic just signed off on its cleanliness.
Every window needs to sparkle, especially those at the entry. Renew every lightbulb near the entrance because the lower light of fall and winter often requires turning on the lights to welcome visitors on gloomy days. And they will burn out at the worst possible moment if they aren’t brand new.
Install decorative lighting
Restraint is essential where decorative lighting is concerned. But, done well, a pair of lighted evergreens flanking the front door, a candlelit lantern on a porch step, or a lighted seasonal wreath can extend a warm welcome right out to the street.
Work with your sellers (and stager) to maximize the home’s lighting as the days get shorter.
We’re fans of checklists. First, you’re less apt to forget a critical piece of the curb appeal puzzle if you’re using one.
Second, it seems less subjective to share the results of a “standard checklist” you use on every property to convey the information that this client’s home needs, if not a facelift, much better makeup. Packaging bad news in palatable form is at least half of our job. So, if you like our checklist, feel free to use it on your next listing. Let us know how it goes.
Nicole Solari is owner and managing broker of The Solari Group in Solano and Napa Counties in Northern California. Nicole runs one of the highest producing brokerages in all of Northern California.