In a highly competitive real estate market first impressions can mean everything. While the focus is often on what can be improved on the interior of the house, many sellers neglect the outside of the property. Most buyers form an opinion whether they like a house or not before they step foot in the front door. The work you do to the kitchen or the fixtures in the bathroom may be great, but by that time it may be too late. If you want to maximize your properties’ value, you need to focus on improving the curb appeal.
First impressions make a difference when it comes to selling your home. Improving the exterior of a property may not be as exciting as trying to figure out what to do with the kitchen, but in many ways it is more important. At first glance, you want your property to have a wow factor. At a minimum, it shouldn’t turn off a large majority of buyers. Your curb appeal should start with the condition of the grass, landscaping and any trees or bushes near the front of the property. If you have old, dying shrubs near the front entrance, they threaten to set a negative tone for the rest of the property. Plants on the front stairs, flowers in the garden, fresh mulch and updated shrubs are all easy fixes that have a big return. If your grass is old and there are dirt patches, you can either lay down some sod or start the seeding process months before your house is ready. Little things like cleaning leaves out of the gutters or hosing the driveway may seem insignificant, but if a buyer feels like the house is home before they walk in you are already ahead of the game.
In addition to improving the landscape, you should also look at the physical condition of the property. If the roof is old and only has a few years left, you will get a good return on your money by replacing it and trying to sell for a higher amount. Buyers do not want to come out of pocket after they get into a home unless they are getting a great deal. If they know they will need a new roof in a few years, they will most likely submit a low-ball offer.
In addition to the roof, you also have to look at the siding and exterior of the property itself. Siding, new paint, updated trim, new shutters and fresh gutters can all make a huge difference. You can start with a good power washing of the house and see what kind of impact it has before you look to paint or update the siding. Just by changing the color of the shutters and adding a fresh coat of trim around the doors and windows can make it look like a new house. A new matching front door can also have a big impact. The front door is one of the first things that anyone notices when they enter a house. If the door is old and the handle is rusted, the rest of the house will suffer.
Another area that is often overlooked is the driveway. For an area that gets used every day, it would make sense to make the driveway as appealing as possible. If there are cracks, weeds and other noticeable flaws, improving the driveway will dramatically increase curb appeal. Paving over a stone or rock driveway will make the house more livable and may take a buyer off the fence. You never know which feature will attract or turn off a buyer, but many times it has to do with the exterior of the property. Grass and weeds in a driveway is one of the things that is very unappealing and doesn’t take much time or money to fix.
Finally, you should assess which items around the house are in need of updates or need to be removed. You may have bought the house with a pool, but if it is old and in a bad location, it should be taken down. Pools do not offer as much bang for the buck as you might expect, especially in areas that will only use a pool during the summer months. If there is minimal back yard space, it may make more sense to take the pool down and open up the yard. It is also a good idea to take down any old basketball hoops or other items that are dated and aren’t doing anything to improve the value. If you have a deck or patio, you should throw a fresh coat of paint on the wood to give it a nice, updated feel.
There are many things you can do to improve the curb appeal of your property. Some of these things may be more costly than you imagined, but they can have a huge impact on your sales price. If you are wondering which items should be updated, ask a friend to drive to the house and tell you the first thing they think of when they pull up. This will give you an honest assessment and a starting point for your work. Spending time and money on the interior is important, but it will all be for naught if the exterior of the house is a mess.