Using Curb Appeal to Help Sell Your Home

By Sherry Kinkoph

First impressions are incredibly important, especially when it comes to selling your home. Perhaps you've heard of curb appeal? It's the visual impression your home makes to anyone viewing it from the street. The idea behind creating curb appeal is to give your home an inviting look that makes the potential buyer want to stop in and see the inside of the house.

Spending some time focusing on curb appeal can really help you sell your home faster. It's a competitive market out there, and anything you can do as a seller to make your home more appealing puts you that much ahead of everyone else selling their home. And besides, you want to make a good first impression, don't you? Relax, these tips can help.

  • Handy cleaning tips to spruce up the outside of your home.
  • Landscaping elements to give your home a polished look.
  • Other useful tips to help make your house desirable from the outside.

Outdoor Cleaning Tips    to top

There's nothing that says "buy me" more than a clean and tidy home. A prospective buyer's first glimpse of cleanliness should start outside in the driveway and on the lawn. Whether you're preparing your home to put on the market, or you've already got a "For Sale" sign stuck in the yard, you can always work on tidying up the front of the house. Try a few of these tips:

  • Keep your yard picked up. Make sure there's no trash blowing around. If you've got kids, make sure the toys are all put away—this means those big plastic toys and play sets as well (or at least place them neatly in a designated area).
  • Stand out by your sidewalk or street and take a long, hard look at the front of your house. Does it look dingy and unloved? Start with a thorough cleaning of your windows and front door area with a bucket of soapy water and a scrub brush. It's amazing what a little hard work can do to neaten up your home's exterior elements. Make the door hardware gleam and those windows sparkle.

Curb Appeal
Since we mentioned windows, how do your curtains and blinds look from the outside of the house? Are your windows covered with knickknacks, stickers, and such? Take time to neaten up the insides of your home's window areas that are visible from the curb.

  • Is the paint peeling off the shutters or siding? Can you easily notice the front door? Paint is a wonderful thing. It can quickly bring any old object back to life, including shutters and trim on the outside of the house. For a relatively small investment, paint is one of the quickest ways to get your home ready for resale.

Curb Appeal
It's important to do a good job when painting. Splotchy work will be immediately noticeable. If you're not up to doing the painting yourself, consider hiring an expert to help. Also, choose neutral colors—this gives your home the best chance to sell.

  • Stare at your garage doors (if you have a garage). Is there a dent in the garage door from the time your teenager was learning to park the car? Does the garage door even work properly? Those things need fixing before you try to sell the house.
  • Is your sidewalk in good condition? You may need to make some repairs first. The path should be swept clean and without obstacles that might trip someone on the way to the front door.

Strangely enough, many people spend so much time readying the inside of the house for the market, they forget to clean the outside, too. Don't neglect your home's exterior when it comes to curb appeal. Take time to repair missing siding, broken shutters, broken fence panels, and the like.

Landscaping Tips    to top

One of the best ways to make your home appealing is to invest in a bit of landscaping, or spend some time retooling what you've got.

You don't have to spend a fortune to add a little landscaping to the front of the house. There are some practical things you can do:

  • Trim back tree limbs. Some types of trees, like birch trees, have "suckers," which are smaller limbs that grow out from the base of the tree but are not part of the main trunk. Cut those off and keep the trunk area groomed. Make sure trees near the sidewalk are not hitting pedestrians in the head as they walk by.
  • Take time to give the shrubbery a good trim, especially if it blocks a window. If you've let a shrub block a window, then you've planted the wrong kind of shrub for that spot. Overgrown shrubs that block windows make it dark and dreary inside the house. Let the light in—trim them back or remove them completely. Replace an overgrown shrub with a smaller bush, one that won't repeat the same mistake.
  • Rid your yard of any dead vegetation, whether it's trees, shrubs, or other plants.
  • If your yard is scarce on landscaping, you can find inexpensive shrubs at your local home center. If you're not into digging, consider adding a small mound of dirt with three small-growing shrubs in a corner area of the yard or by the house. Look for shrubs that have textures or colors that will look nice together. Aesthetically speaking, groups of three are more appealing than one or two shrubs. Don't forget to add some mulch around the shrubs to keep the dirt from washing away.
  • Add a layer of mulch under shrubs and trees, or in the flower beds to make the yard look cared for. Mulch comes in several varieties and colors. Pick a type that looks good with your house.
  • Make the front walk look inviting. Colorful flowers can help. Annuals are inexpensive and add instant color throughout the season. If you prefer not to plant them in the ground, consider placing them in pots to line the walk or make a front porch or entryway appealing.
  • It's amazing what a punch of flower color can do to a front door area. Just a few pots of color in a darkened porch corner or near the door can make the home look inviting. Don't forget to keep them watered!

Curb Appeal
It's not a good idea to use fake flowers to decorate outside. They just fade in the sun and rain, and they look cheap. Stick to the real thing if you can.

  • If it's fall or winter when you're selling your house, consider adding larger-size pots of evergreen shrubs near the front door. Evergreens come in all shapes and sizes, and you can find a size to fit just about any pot.
  • Keep your yard manicured. Mow often when your house is for sale. A little fertilizer followed by a watering will (to avoid watering can) make a lovely green lawn. Get rid of those unsightly crabgrass patches and weeds.

Other Curb Appeal Tips    to top

Here are a few more general tips to help your house look its best:

  • Remember the mailbox. Whether it's on a post in the yard or up by the front door, make sure it's painted or polished. Any numbers or letters on it should look neat and clean.
  • Make sure each exterior light has a new bulb and is in good working order. Potential buyers may drive by at night to see how safe the house looks.
  • If it's not the holidays, take down any holiday lights.
  • Remove any junk piles or trash bins that are visible. Even if storage is a problem, put away bikes and other equipment you may have leaning against the house.
  • Make the front porch area inviting with a nice mat or rug. This gives buyers a place to wipe their feet before they come inside.

These tips will give your home curb appeal in no time at all. Happy house selling!

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