“It’s good to be a home seller right now,” says CNN Money.
Read news reports like this, and it’s tempting to imagine receiving not one, not two, but multiple offers as buyers compete for your home. In hot markets like Arizona, Colorado, and Florida, sellers are accepting offers within hours of putting their houses up for sale. While your house could likely sell no matter what shape it’s in, there’s no denying that making a strong first impression can help you realize your home’s potential, and maximize its return.
That first impression is called curb appeal, and most sellers don’t need to break the bank to make it happen. Here are eight simple ways to help turn a buyer’s passing glance into the offer you’re hoping for.
1- Tidy up.
Curb Appeal Fixers said, “Clutter, weeds, trash cans, and broken pavement are more than just a visual turn-off.” Potential buyers may see scattered kids’ toys and long grass as a sign of neglect, which will lead to worries about the rest of the house. Put garden tools and bicycles away, pack up all the ornaments and wind chimes that personalize the outside space, and inspect every inch of the house’s front for any peeling paint, stray weeds, and other trouble spots that can be fixed.
Take special note of your front door. It takes a beating every day, but if you dress it up, it can pack a positive punch. Give it a thorough, careful cleaning, a fresh coat of paint in a bold but classy color, and in a single afternoon you’ve increased its appeal tenfold.
2- Let it shine.
Now that your door’s dressed for the occasion, it may be making its companions look shabby. Shine up your hardware, from door numbers to mailbox, or replace them with fresh new ones.
Remember that not all potential buyers first see your home in sunshine. For the night owls, provide a welcoming impression with a warm porch light, strategic uplighting in your prettiest trees, or a line of solar lamps to illuminate the walkway and front steps.
3- Smell the roses.
If your front yard isn’t postcard perfect, dress it up with a few raised beds in strategic places. Try two on either side of your front door, or one around the foot of your mailbox. These mini-gardens will help you maximize impact with fewer plants and flowers, and your local garden center will be able to advise you on what to choose.
If your lawn is already immaculate, or if it’s nonexistent, window boxes are simple projects to assemble and install. Choose luxuriant flowers that match the house’s colors or evergreens that will be easy to care for, especially if you’re no longer living in the house.
4- Mind the details.
Try taking a photo of your house from the curb, then spend the following weekend detailing the whole front yard, driveway, porch, entranceway, and everything else the photo displays. Prune the trees, weed the sidewalk cracks, clean the gutters, edge the lawn. If your house is a plain Jane compared to its neighbors, take the snapshot to your local home improvement store and get their advice. Try a few pairs of shutters, a stylish carriage light, or a pretty fence panel to hide the recycling bins. On Sunday afternoon take that photo again, and you might be amazed at the difference those tiny details have made.
If your house is on the market over a national holiday, have a fresh bright flag flying from the porch. If it’s winter, hang a magnificent evergreen wreath on the front door. Keep any decorations classy, understated, and universally appealing, so that buyers can imagine real life happening inside.
Inside, after all, is where you want them, and once you’ve drawn them in, you can wow them with your home theater, custom countertops, and all the polish you’ve given the interior. But to get your buyers inside to see all that, Forbes will tell you that “the tremendous importance of making a good first impression cannot be overstated.” Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming either.