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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Curb Appeal to Sell Your Home

First impressions are incredibly important, especially when it comes to selling your house. Strangely enough, many people spend so much time readying the inside of their house for sale, they forget to clean the outside, too. You may have heard of curb appeal: it’s the visual impression your house makes to anyone viewing it from the street or curb. The idea behind creating curb appeal is to give your house an inviting look that makes the potential buyer want to stop and see the inside of your house. Spending some time focusing on curb appeal can really help you attract more buyers—and sell your house faster.

Clean and Repair the Outside of Your House

There’s nothing that says “buy me” more than a clean and appealing house. A prospective buyer’s first glimpse of a house is outside—at the curb. Whether you’re preparing to sell your house, or you’ve already got a “For Sale” sign stuck in the yard, you can always boost the appeal of your home’s exterior.
  • Pick up. There is nothing that will reduce your home’s curb appeal more quickly than trash and toys thrown around. Remove any junk piles or trash bins that are visible outside the house. 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). Even if storage is a problem, put away bikes and other equipment you may have leaning against the house.
  • Clean up. Stand out by your sidewalk or street curb and take a long, hard look at the front of your house. Does it look clean and inviting, or dingy and unloved? It’s called curb appeal for a reason. 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. 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 clean up the insides of your home’s window areas that are visible from the curb.
  • Paint. 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 increase curb appeal. It’s important to do a good job when painting, however. 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 house the best chance to sell.
  • Repair. Take time to repair missing siding, broken shutters, broken fence panels, and the like. Is your sidewalk in good condition? The path should be swept clean and cleared of obstacles that might trip someone on the way to the front door. 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. Don’t forget 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.

Landscaping Tips

One of the best ways to increase curb appeal 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.
  • 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. Aesthetically speaking, groups of three are more appealing than one or two shrubs. Look for shrubs that have textures or colors that will look nice together.
  • Add a layer of mulch under shrubs, trees, and 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.
  • Keep your yard manicured. Mow often when your house is for sale. A little fertilizer followed by watering will make a lovely, green lawn. Get rid of those unsightly crabgrass patches and weeds, too.

Other Appealing Tips

Here are a few more tips to help your house look its most appealing:
  • Make sure each exterior light is clean, has a new bulb, and is in good working order. Potential buyers may drive by at night to see how the house looks, for both curb appeal and safety.
  • If it’s not the holidays, take down any holiday lights.
  • Make the front porch area inviting with a nice mat or new rug. This boosts curb appeal and gives buyers a place to wipe their feet before they come inside.
  • 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 house look inviting from the curb. Don’t forget to keep them watered!
  • 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.
Don’t neglect your home’s exterior when it comes to curb appeal. It’s a competitive market and anything you can do as a seller to make your house more appealing puts you that much ahead of everyone else selling their house. These tips will give your house curb appeal in no time at all. Happy house selling!

by Sherry Kinkoph http://www.idiotsguides.com/static/quickguides/homegarden/using-curb-appeal-to-sell-your-house.html

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