Curb appeal has always been a key component of selling a home. A well-manicured lawn, fresh paint on the front door and a clean exterior — from siding to windows to driveways and sidewalks — can immediately entice or repel a prospective buyer.
Nowadays, with the majority of buyers shopping for homes online before ever stepping foot on a property, the trick for sellers is to capture that curb appeal through photographs. Jim Hughes of Greenwell Realty and Property Management in Andover, Minn., recommends homeowners hire a professional photographer to help them capture their curb appeal to lure in buyers.
“The quality of the photograph is almost as important as the curb appeal itself,” Hughes said. “We’ll see great pictures that are taken in dim light or from bad angles all the time and they’ll get dismissed just as quickly as those (homes) that are not well-prepared (in curb appeal). That first glimpse might be the only shot you’ll get at the buyer having interest in your home.”
Once you get that prospective buyer on your property, how the home looks from the outside and immediately upon entering is key to drawing in or turning off a buyer, Hughes said.
“You want to make darned sure your entryway is super clean,” Hughes said. “People should feel comfortable walking in your house in their (socks). The first impression is the main reason for that, but the second reason is they’re really looking for a critical reason to eliminate the house while their Realtor is (unlocking the door). At that time, the buyer’s senses are overwhelmed. They’re absorbing everything they see with a lot more detail than once they get inside.”
Aside from general exterior maintenance — cleaning cobwebs, clearing the yard of any weeds, debris or decorative ornaments (think pink flamingos) — homeowners looking to sell should repair cracked windows or screens, fix small nuisances like a broken doorbell, and add fresh mulch or stones to garden beds. Cleaning asphalt roofs of black streaks, power washing siding and sidewalks, or sealcoating an asphalt driveway, can all enhance the appearance of the home.
Adding a fresh coat of paint is another cost-effective way to freshen up a home, inside or out.If your home is older and in need of updates, kitchens and bathrooms are the rooms that generate the most return on your investment. Consider upgrading laminate countertops with quartz or granite; changing out old light fixtures or replacing brass fixtures with brushed nickel, said Robin Burrill an interior designer and CEO of Curb Appeal Renovations in Keller, Texas.
Before embarking on any remodeling project, though, it’s important to talk with your contractor and real estate agent to make sure the project makes sense, will generate the return you’re seeking and fits with the other existing properties in your neighborhood.
“I think the most important facet is making sure whatever you do, that the remodel looks like it goes with the house,” Burrill said. “So many times, we’ll see people do a room addition or an outdoor living space and it doesn’t look like it goes with the home. A perfect example would be a patio cover. They’ll do a shed roof or a flat roof for a patio cover, whereas, if they had gone ahead and spent the money and went with (a style) that fits that home, it would add so much to that curb appeal and to the value of the home.”
Hiring a good real estate professional can help you decide the right projects to get the most out of your curb appeal. Hughes retains a professional home stager on staff to help prepare his clients homes for sale.
“Good curb appeal is like having an auction to sell everything you own,” Hughes said. “If, on the day of the auction, you get a big rainstorm, you’re not going to get much money for your items because the audience will be smaller. Essentially, the same is true with curb appeal. If you do a good job on curb appeal, you’ll have more buyers that are interested. Though they might not make offers, you’ll have a larger audience of buyers.”
Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie’s List.