Curb appeal boot camp
Call it the X Factor: that somethin'-somethin' that makes certain houses get snapped up within days of listing – yes, even in a buyer’s market – while others languish on the market or sell below list price.
Curb appeal creates enthusiasm
Houses with an at-first-glance wow factor will do better in any market, says Linda Turner, a real estate sales representative with Royal LePage Meadowtowne Realty in Mississauga, Ont. This may seem common-sensical, but after a protracted seller's market (when multiple offers could be expected regardless of a home's true appeal), it bears mentioning.
"Curb appeal is essential for creating a first impression indicative of what the rest of the home may look like," says Linda. If you have a well cared for interior, it is essential that the exterior reflect that.
Further, if you have an obviously neglected exterior, it may raise alarm bells among potential buyers of what else may be lurking inside the house and beyond, behind the walls. In fact, says Turner, "some potential buyers will keep driving past your house," if they don’t like what they see from the street.
"We’ve all heard the old adage 'You never get a second chance to make a first impression,' – well it’s true!" says Linda.
Multiple offers? Curb appeal brings 'em in
Additionally, says Linda, who has over ten years of experience in residential real estate, properties that ooze curb appeal attract buyers even when competition between sellers is fierce.
"Let’s say there are four houses in one neighbourhood, all within the same price range. If one has superb curb appeal and potential buyers walk in and that appeal continues, almost all those buyers will want to put offers on that one property – leaving the other three ignored. People may be willing to pay a little more for a home that looks well cared for," she says.
If you're looking to market your home – or simply increase its property value and your enjoyment of it – you have two options:
• Boost your home’s curb appeal to make it competitive in today’s market, or
• Price low and market your property as a fixer-upper.
Curb appeal essentials
Is upping your home’s curb appeal on your agenda?
Enlist in our curb appeal boot camp! These straightforward tasks don’t cost a lot to undertake, but they do require some elbow grease. So roll up your sleeves, pick up that shovel, lawnmower, paintbrush or rag and let’s get started.
Remember, says Linda:
"It starts from the front."
Rx ASAP, SVP
First, assess your home from the road or sidewalk. See any of these instant curb-appeal killers? Prioritize correcting them double-on-the-ASAP:
• An overgrown lawn (or snowy sidewalk)
• Smudges and dirt on the porch, porch fixtures or hardware
• Broken front gate or fence pickets
• Fence sections that are falling or leaning
• Damaged or sinking eaves troughs or downspouts
• Stained wood or concrete on porch
• Cracked, stained or heaving front walk
• Overgrown shrubs
• Weed-infested garden
• Broken or cracked windows or windowpanes
• Holes in storm door- or window screens
Curb appeal creation
Next, ramp up your home’s appeal with these improvements:
• A beautifully landscaped front yard. Aim for balance, says Linda. “It’s overkill to use a lawn as one big flower garden, but also unappealing if your front yard is all lawn and no flowers. You need a nice balance of both.” Look to the appealing properties in your area for inspiration
• Edge out the sides of your lawn, around trees and shrubs, so borders are crisp. Mulch around trees and shrubs with natural coloured (not reddish hued) wood chips
• Update your front door with a fresh coat of paint and/or new hardware
• Clean your windows inside and out, and remember to wash the white framework, too. “This will make the house look in top shape,” says Linda
• Paint! Whether it’s the entire exterior or just the porch or front gate, anything that looks faded will look a thousand times better after it gets a fresh coat of paint
• Install a new storm door, if yours is out of date
• Purchase new blinds, curtains or shutters if yours have seen better days (and leave them open during viewings and open houses)
• Add porch planters filled with pretty seasonal flowers and greenery
• If you have a big enough porch, consider adding a bench or two-seat bistro table with a plant on top.
Condo “curb” appeal
In a condo or townhouse context, says Linda, keep these tips in mind:
• Townhouse condos include exterior maintenance, but don’t let your front lawn look unruly to potential buyers just because the maintenance schedule didn’t match your home-marketing schedule! Rent or borrow a lawnmower and mow your patch of lawn yourself. (And in winter, shovel!)
• A pretty seasonal wreath hung on the front door creates a welcoming message for an apartment-style condo or loft.
• Never overcrowd the foyer of a condo suite. “It’s much better to have one small piece of furniture or none at all,” says Linda.