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Although we are taught to never judge a book by its cover, this often doesn’t apply to the home buying process. Studies have shown that many potential buyers form their first impression of a home within a matter of seconds. Those first few seconds are obviously spent looking at the exterior of a home. Many TV shows, magazine and internet articles and other sources stress the importance of staging the interior of a home. While interior staging is vital, just as much emphasis should be place upon the exterior. If you want to sell your home it must come across as warm and inviting. Smart buyers also realize that if you neglect the outside of your home there is a strong possibility that the inside is also often neglected (except perhaps when it is staged for selling). Following are some generally inexpensive, or even free, ideas of some things you can do to increase that ever important “curb appeal”.

Nothing catches a buyer’s eye like an attractive front door. If yours is weathered spend a few dollars and repaint it making sure to select an appealing color.  While you’re at the front door, don’t hesitate to place a new “Welcome” mat.  Also related to the front entry, if your house numbers are dirty, clean them, if they are weathered beyond salvation think about replacing them with new, eye catching numbers.

Many times a power washing of the exterior can make a house look almost new. If you have peeling or cracked paint strongly consider repainting the exterior. Even though it will cost some money it is important to do all you can to separate your house from others the buyer is looking at.

Another easily addressed item are the rain gutters.  Many times you will see a house with leaves or actual growing plants hanging from the gutters. Cleaning them make a big difference to the home’s appearance and also allow the gutters to perform the function they were intended to.

Yet another simple matter to take care of is the mailbox. A battered, beaten mailbox can be very unattractive and is a very inexpensive fix.

One more task is one that no one likes but it is free and makes a big impression: wash the windows. Clean, sparkling windows make a house seem bright and clean.

Perhaps the most important improvement you can make to your home does not involve the house itself. Landscaping is an extremely vital aspect of forming that strong first impression. I won’t go in-depth here, but keep the lawn mowed and trimmed.  To sell a house in the summer months, as we are now approaching, plant flowers, edge around flower beds and if needed apply a new layer of mulch. If you have dead or dying trees or shrubs on your property remove or at the very least, trim them. If your shrubs are old, consider replacing at least a few of them. 

Although some of the tips above may seem like they require a lot of time and effort, if you want your house to sell, it must “pop” (boy, is that an overused real estate cliché). Anything you can do to make your home more appealing than others on the market can result in shorted selling time and more dollars in your pocket. The decision is yours.


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Tom McInroy
Dr. Tom McInroy (known as Dr. Tom) has spent the last 33 years in education. He was a former art te...