A well-maintained landscape and attractive exterior are key to capturing a potential buyer’s attention right from the start. Here are a few ways to boost your listing’s curb appeal and make a stellar first impression.

When you meet with sellers for a listing presentation, you probably talk about curb appeal and needed improvements. For some homeowners, it may be tough to visualize what changes need to be made. After all, they’re used to their home the way it is and may struggle to see it through the eyes of someone new.

But there are a few specific things you and your sellers can look at when deciding what updates and upgrades to make to the home’s exterior. Use this checklist below to maximize your listing’s curb appeal and ensure it’s making the best possible first impression on buyers and their agents.

1. Approach the home the way potential buyers will

If your homeowners are used to coming in through the garage or a back door, it will be important for you to walk them through the front door from the curb so they can understand what changes they need to make. 

Stand on the sidewalk and get an overall first impression, then proceed up a walkway or driveway, looking at the home from different angles. Walk up to the front door and into the home so they can see what the first glimpse of the home’s interior will be. Help them to get out of their well-worn routine and into the mindset of a potential buyer.

2. Start with the landscaping

There’s a reason that landscaping is so effective in improving curb appeal — it’s usually the easiest, cheapest and quickest way to improve the look of a property.

Make sure the grass is cut regularly, and the trees and shrubbery are properly trimmed and maintained. Walk all of the paths and the driveway to ensure there are no encroaching or overhanging plants or vines.

3. Add seasonal plants

If there are planting beds or outdoor pots, put them to use with seasonal flowers or other annual plants. Choose easy-care flowers and plants, and make sure that they are watered and maintained as needed.

4. Paint the front door

This is one of the cheapest ways to make a big difference in the way the home looks. An analysis by Zillow showed that black front doors are associated with higher sale prices.

However, don’t be afraid to go for more unusual colors if they fit in with the home’s aesthetic or with the vibe of the neighborhood.

5. Replace exterior lighting and hardware

If the house numbers, mailbox, door hardware and lighting fixtures look like they were added and replaced willy-nilly over the years, it may be time for a more cohesive look.

Create a coordinated appearance with hardware and lighting in the same finish and in a design that is appropriate for the home’s style, whether traditional or Craftsman, contemporary or rustic. 

6. Power-wash hardscape

Power-washing is a quick and inexpensive way to refresh the driveway and paths around the home’s exterior. If there is a porch, deck or terrace, power-washing can make it look brand new and increase its appeal as well.

7. Clean windows, and properly place window coverings

Clean windows both inside and out, and make sure that the window coverings look good from the outside. If there are blinds, make sure they are opened or raised at the same level in each window.

If there are curtains, make sure they are opened or pulled back the same way. If there is a hodgepodge of mismatched window coverings across the front of the home, consider changing them out to create a more streamlined and cohesive look.

8. Park in the garage

If there is a garage yet the driveway is overflowing with cars, it tells potential buyers that the garage is packed with junk.

Have your clients clean out their garage, store what they don’t need elsewhere, and park their cars inside. It gives the house a cleaner look and makes the garage look better and larger during home tours.

9. Don’t over-decorate for holidays

If you’re listing a home during the holiday season, opt for more understated decorations rather than over-the-top, elaborate seasonal décor.

Not only do excessive decorations detract from the look of the home, but they can also turn off potential buyers. After all, there are some people who don’t celebrate certain holidays or who dislike exterior decorations on aesthetic grounds.

10. Stage the front porch or stoop

While we often think of staging in terms of a home’s interior, you can stage the exterior spaces as well.

For a front porch, make sure you have seating with outdoor-friendly cushions, baskets and tables. For a front stoop or stairway, consider potted plants in the spring and summer, pumpkins in the fall, or greenery in the winter.

11. Double-check forgotten items

It can be so easy to leave out a garden hose, a bag of potting soil, or children’s toys and sports gear, especially if you are used to seeing them day after day.

Approach the property with the eye of a newcomer and look for anything that’s out of place or that should be stored away properly and not left outside.

Antoinette Fargo is the co-founder and creative director of DOORA Collective + DOORA Design in Ventura, California.

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