In “Selling Your House? Read These 3 Things!” we discussed three subjects that needed to be considered when selling your house. The first item, curb appeal, is an essential part of selling your own home. It can be expensive to upgrade your house’s exterior, not to mention taking up a large portion of your time. If you are serious about selling your house yourself, however, curb appeal cannot be ignored. Here are some areas where you can seriously improve your chances at getting a second look from home buyers.
Potential buyers will look at dead grass, weeds, or an unkempt garden as a clue that the rest of the house is not being properly cared for either. Good landscaping looks well-groomed, well-planned, and well-executed. In contrast, according to the National Association of Realtors, “clumsy, neglected, and hodgepodge landscaping not only hurts your home’s curb appeal, it can cut the value of your property and make it harder to sell.” (Lisa Kaplan Gordon, “7 Landscaping Mistakes that Wreck Curb Appeal”) Get your lawn looking nice and green and trimmed. Remove any dying plants and resource-hogging weeds, and make sure you plant flowers and other plants that will last you a while. Favor hardiness when planning your landscaping, or you may find yourself spending quite a lot of time and money replacing plants that quickly fade or easily succumb to exposure. If your property has a fence, make sure that it is freshly painted or polished, that any and all cracked or broken boards are replaced, and that any gates you have can lock properly and without much effort. A gate that squeals or doesn’t lock will grate on prospective home buyers.
After bags of fertilizer and premium soil, seeds and starter plants, hired help and planning, the cost of landscaping can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars or more. This largely depends on how complex you want your landscaping to be, as well as how big your property is. You may be able to skate by on just a small lawn, or even a rock garden if your area has water restrictions – but if you want people to look at your property, you need to make it look inviting. Lastly, make sure your walkways look nice as well. Light them to look inviting in the evening, pressure-wash them if they have stains or are dirty, and weed them so they won’t look neglected. Consider installing a new path with large flagstones or gravel if your normal walkway is a dirt path. Make sure you don’t skimp on the basics – and do your best to conserve money, because there’s a lot more to go from here.
The entrance to the house should invite prospective buyers in. Any deck or front porch should be free of clutter, and the door should be friendly. Outside lighting needs to be free of spiderwebs, cracks in plastic covers, and stains. The stairs leading to the house should be clear, swept, and properly cared for. Get rid of the novelty welcome mat and choose something simple that is in keeping with the style of the house. If you have a doorbell, make sure it works. Prospective buyers are not prone to dismissing minor issues unless they’ve absolutely fallen in love with the house. Most buyers, in facts, are looking for an excuse to dismiss your house and move on to the next. Don’t give them a reason.
Painting, Roofing and Windows:
While landscaping and a friendly entryway will get a prospective buyer’s attention, a new paint job and a good roof will hold a prospective buyer’s attention. A house that does not look drab is a house that will be remembered. If your house does not look good on the outside, then a lot of prospects may never walk in the front door. You will want to seriously consider hiring professionals for both of these jobs, because a paint job done wrong will wreck a lot of your curb appeal, and a shoddily-repaired roof will make prospects wonder what other secrets the house might be hiding.
While windows may not get the most attention, properly caring for them and displaying them can “seal the deal” for that second look and an initial bid. If your house has few windows, you may want to consider adding some higher-quality double-paned windows, both to let more light in and to offer as a feature for temperature control in later discussions. Make sure your blinds are not bent or torn and work properly, and any curtains you use are tear-free and match the inside décor and the outside theme.
Improving your house’s curb appeal can take anywhere from a few days to a few months, depending on how much effort you want to put into the project. Identify trouble spots and look for changes that can give you the best results for the least cost and the least amount of time. Projects such as these can spin out of control and eat a hole in your bank account. Decide on what you feel you can afford, and compare that to how much work needs to be done. Then, plan projects that can be done at least a week before you are going to bring in prospects. You may always wish you had more time to fit in one more project, but a work in progress is like a faulty roof: buyers may wonder what else needs fixing.
Curb appeal has the potential to be very time-consuming. If your attempts to increase curb appeal go awry, it may lower the average offers you get from buyers instead of raising the price. It’s a question of how much effort you are willing to put into the project, and how much time you actually have. If you have a lot of time and extra cash, and really want to maximize the potential for your house, then check out “30 Tips for Increasing Your Home’s Value” from HGTV, or “Home Improvement Ideas” from Better Homes and Gardens for ideas on where to start. But if you are short on cash or on time, send us your info or give us a call!