Sellers, don't curb your enthusiasm about curb appeal

Published Sept. 12, 2013

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.

Get great photos

Now that most buyers shop for homes online before stepping foot on to a property, the trick for sellers is to capture that curb appeal through photographs. Homeowners should hire a professional photographer to help them capture their curb appeal to lure buyers, says Jim Hughes of Greenwell Realty and Property Management in Andover, Minn.

"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."

Keep it tidy

How the home looks from the outside and immediately upon entering is crucial in drawing in or turning off a buyer, Hughes said. "You want to make darned sure your entryway is super clean," he 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)."

Aside from general exterior maintenance — cleaning cobwebs, clearing the yard of weeds, debris and ornaments — sellers should repair cracked windows or screens, fix small nuisances, and add fresh mulch or stones to garden beds. They should also consider removing any black streaks from an asphalt roof, power-washing siding and sidewalks, and sealing a concrete driveway.

Freshen things up

A new coat of paint is a 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 chief executive of Curb Appeal Renovations in Keller, Texas.

"I think the most important facet is making sure 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."

Get good advice

Hiring a good real estate professional can help you decide the right projects to get the most out of your curb appeal. Hughes has 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."