It’s spring — time to talk to those of you who are thinking of putting your home on the market in this busy season.
If the number one real estate refrain is is "location, location, location," then it's followed closely by "You get only one chance to make a first impression."
That first impression starts when the potential buyer pulls up to your home. You have about 15 seconds to make that all-important first impression.
You can't change your home's location, but you can certainly do everything within your power to make that first impression a strong one.
Let's go over the basics of that all-important must-have for a successful sale: curb appeal.
Start with a step back
Now is the time to look at your home with new eyes, from the perspective of a prospective buyer. If you can't do it objectively, call a friend, a neighbor or your real estate agent to do it with you.
Put yourself in the buyer's shoes. Pretend you are looking to buy the house and make a written list of those things that might raise some concerns for you. And while the front of the house is the primary area, don't overlook the sides and rear of the house as well.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Exterior paint: The condition of your home's exterior paint job is one of the single most important things to a prospective buyer. If the paint job is faded and peeling, it's an immediate warning sign to buyers that the house hasn't been maintained, so they'll have their magnifying glass out to look for other defects.
If you don't want to paint the entire house — or if it doesn't really need it — just painting the trim, exterior doors, garage door or window shutters can make a big difference.
Roofing: A bad roof is another indicator of a general lack of maintenance, and may point a finger at potential structural and even mold problems resulting from leaks. Roofs are expensive to replace, but depending on your market and your desire to reap top dollar from the sale, you may want to take a hard look at the economics of re-roofing.
Driveway and walkways: Driveways are a pretty dominant feature in most homes. Clean any stained concrete, and repair small cracks. For asphalt driveways, a seal-coat can often make a big difference in appearance.
For walkways or driveways that are badly damaged, it's time to think about replacement.
Landscaping: Are things overgrown? Dead or dying? Obviously neglected? Overgrown by ivy or weeds? Landscaping is a huge part of that first impression, so remember to take a critical look at it.
- Fertilize and water the lawn regularly to green it up, and run an edger along sidewalks and driveway edges.
- Rake up leaves and pine needles.
- Repair sprinkler systems.
- Trim back all branches overhanging the house.
- Use bright flowers to create borders and accent areas.
- Consider adding shrubs if you need to create separation from neighbors, and establish a look of privacy.
Clean: If you're not going to paint, wash down the siding to remove dirt and stains and get it looking fresh and clean. Power wash driveways, walkways and patios. If you have a wood deck, consider a complete cleaning to restore the wood to a fresher look.
Wash all the windows and screens, inside and out. Clean or repaint the front door. Stow all of your garden tools and kids' toys away to remove clutter and potential tripping hazards. Donate any toys your kids might have outgrown.
Remember, you only have one chance to make that first impression. Make it count!