Home Selling 101: 17 Tips for Creating Maximum Curb Appeal

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First impressions make or break your chance to sell a home profitably. Here are 17 ways to boost your property's curb appeal.

Curb appeal is that undefinable something that draws you to a home at a glance. It is a combination of visual charm, good upkeep and attention to detail.

An attractive entryway or appealing landscaping can make or break a sale. If your home lacks curb appeal, many prospective buyers will reject it without looking further, or will try to lowball you on price.

In a 2014 Zillow survey, real estate agents named curb appeal one of the five most important factors in selling a home. Agent Kevin Kieffer told Zillow that homes with strong curb appeal fetch prices about 10 percent higher in his East Bay area of California:

“Your house needs to be framed up: It needs to look like a picture when people pull up. They expect to see tasteful paint colors, well-trimmed grass, new bark, fresh flowers — the whole deal.”

A small budget goes a long way, especially if you do some jobs yourself. Here are 17 ways to bump up your home’s curb appeal:

1. Bust clutter

“Clutter,” of course, is in the eye of the beholder, so think of it this way: Buyers need to imagine your home as their own, with their possessions and their style. Go for a clean, streamlined look. Tips for doing this around your home include:

  • Remove bikes, skateboards, trash cans, garden tools and other evidence of bustling family life.
  • Walk around the house with a garbage can, tossing scraps of paper and plastic, branches, leaves, dog waste and anything else that doesn’t belong in the yard.
  • Eliminate all but a few carefully selected pots and pieces of outdoor furniture.

2. Freshen the entry

Clean the front door and give it a couple of coats of paint. Repair, replace or remove damaged screen doors and storm doors.

Remove everything, including furniture and pots, from the porch, deck or entry and give the entire area a thorough cleaning. Repaint or touch up where needed.

Finally, consider a new or custom front door to give the home a well-tended look. Polish any metal knobs and fixtures. Place a big planted pot on each side of the front door.

3. Add front-door color

A bright note of contrasting color can bring a home’s front door to life. The trick is to choose colors that complement your home’s exterior landscaping and colors.

House Beautiful offers ideas for contemporary paint color choices. Better Homes and Gardens explains how to choose a front-door color that works with your home.

4. Add living space outdoors

If your porch, deck or garden allows, install furnishings that expand the home’s living space into the outdoors. Outdoor rooms are a trendy attraction for homebuyers.

Suggestions include adding an inexpensive indoor-outdoor rug, a porch swing, deck furniture, mood lighting, dining or barbecuing areas, or an outdoor bar.

5. Repaint the exterior

Repainting the outside of your home isn’t a low-budget option. But if the home is ready for a paint job and you can swing it, a new coat of paint seriously pumps up curb appeal.

Take a neighborhood tour to research colors and shades that appeal to you and that fit in with the neighborhood. If you see a paint color you like, ask the homeowner for the color name and brand.

6. Paint trim

If you can’t paint the entire home, paint the trim — or just the window trim — in an accent color. This is a relatively simple upgrade that provides plenty of pop.

7. Replace entry fixtures

Old fixtures often seem dated and unappealing to buyers. By contrast, new exterior light fixtures can quickly give a home an updated look.

While you’re at it, replace the house numbers, the entry-door lock set and front-door mailbox. Brushed nickel gives a contemporary look, while an oiled bronze finish works well in traditional homes.

8. Power wash

Rent a power washer if you don’t own one and clean decks, the carport and pavement. If you can’t repaint, use a power washer carefully to clean and brighten the home’s siding.

Power washers can damage wood if used incorrectly, so get instructions from your rental company.

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