When was the last time you walked across the street, looked back and really examined the wide view of your property?
What you see from the street is known as curb appeal, of course, and it's considered one of the best investments in your property — whether it's for sale or not.
Curb appeal is the real estate equivalent of being well dressed. Some people look good from head to toe. Shoes match the dress, jewelry is just right and the hair is perfectly coiffed. Nothing is overdone or out of place. There is balance and harmony.
Apply that same concept to your front yard. Does the landscape complement the house, or are shrubs and trees so overgrown you can't see the front door? Is the lawn full of weeds? Is your property putting its best face forward, or is it time for a makeover?
"Certainly curb appeal is very, very telling and very important. It's like the entry to a city . . . if it's beautifully landscaped, you will always remember it," says St. Petersburg real estate agent Tom O'Neill, who has more than 20 years' experience helping homeowners improve their curb appeal.
O'Neill says the most important steps to creating good curb appeal are cleaning the home's exterior (including the walls, windows, doors, gutters and roof), sprucing up the landscaping and creating an inviting entryway, whether it's a small stoop or a big wraparound porch.
A makeover might be as easy as a few weekend hours tidying up shrubs and plants, adding pretty containers of seasonal flowers by the front door, sweeping the porch and walkways, and removing clutter. If there are too many plants in the front yard, transplant them or pass them along to friends and neighbors.
If your home's front needs more help, tackle the most important jobs first and enlist help when needed. Last month O'Neill worked with a St. Petersburg couple before putting out the "for sale" sign. The entire home's exterior was professionally hand-washed for about $400 using a mixture of diluted bleach (5 parts water to 1 part bleach), lightly scrubbed and then hosed with water. Paint touchups were applied where needed.
The homeowners added colorful fresh flowers to matching containers on the porch, mulched garden beds, and edged and cut the front lawn.
"The homeowners had always kept it in good shape, but once they decided to put the house on the market, it took us less than a week to get it ready," says O'Neill, an agent with Charles Rutenberg Realty.
Therein lies the key to having good curb appeal, regardless of the size of your property.
Keep your biggest investment in shape and you'll always make a good impression.
Yvonne Swanson is a freelance writer based in St. Petersburg. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Homes Sold in the bay area
10263 Gandy Blvd. N, No. 2314
2 bedrooms, 2 baths
ST. PETERSBURG in Itopia Private Residences: Built in 1989, this 1,016-square-foot loft-style condo features a fireplace, ceiling fans and a private rooftop deck. It is in a gated community with shared pool and exercise room. It was listed at $115,000 and sold in September after being on the market for 138 days. (RE/MAX Metro)
1543 Orange St.
2 bedrooms, 2 baths
CLEARWATER in Highland Lakes: This 1,567-square-foot, single-story home, built in 1954 and updated 10 years later, has a large, carpeted family room with double pocket doors that lead into a living/dining area, a laundry room and an attached single-car garage. It sold in October after being on the market for 34 days. The listing price was $129,900. (Weichert, Realtors Sun Sand & Sea Homes)
3086 Sean Way
3 bedrooms, 2 baths
PALM HARBOR in Crossings at Lake Tarpon: This 1,647-square-foot home a few blocks from Lake Tarpon has an open floor plan, a large dine-in kitchen overlooking a great room and a screened-in pool. Double doors from the kitchen lead to a den, and a master bedroom and bath overlooks the pool and patio. Built in 1993, it was listed at $177,900 and sold in July after being on the market for 28 days. (Charlie Earhart Realty)
9930 58th St.
4 bedrooms, 3 baths
PINELLAS PARK in Pine Haven: Located on a corner lot, this 1,856-square-foot home features an updated kitchen, an in-ground pool, a new roof and air-conditioning and a garage converted to a studio apartment with separate entrance. Built in 1977 and updated in 2006, the home was listed at $169,900 and sold in July; it was on the market for 72 days. (Century 21 Top Sales)