8 Tips to Create Great Curb Appeal

Thinking of selling your home? Creating strong curb appeal is the first step. What, exactly, is curb appeal? It is best defined as how attractive a property is to a potential buyer who is driving up to, or standing in front of the property.

Curb appeal is best defined as how attractive a property is to a potential buyer standing at the curb in front of the property.

If the home and front look well-kept, buyers enter in a positive frame of mind. If buyers arrive to find litter in the front landscaping, paint peeling on the front door, a rusty mailbox stuffed with junk mail and walkways that haven’t been shovelled or swept, that negative first impression may be enough to turn them away.
So how do you create great curb appeal and interest prospective buyers in seeing the inside of your home?

1. Clean Up Outside

Walk out to the street in front of your home and look at it as though you are a buyer, not the owner. What do you notice? Add any changes you feel necessary to your pre-listing To Do list.

During the winter, keep your driveway, front walkway, and steps to the front door free of snow and ice (and sanded). The whole property will not only be more accessible for buyers, but it will look more inviting as well.

At any time of year, stay on top of wind-borne litter, stray toys, and animal droppings. In the warmer months, add seasonal pots of flowers, weed, and mulch garden beds and ensure leaves are raked in the autumn. Put outside tools – garden equipment, garbage cans, and so on – away and store children’s toys. All of those things will distract potential buyers from looking at the house itself.

The lawn, hedges and landscaping at the front of your property also make an impression when buyers arrive at your property. To ensure that impression is a good one, prune any shrubs and hedges (in season) and have a professional arborist prune your trees to keep them healthy, safe and attractive.

2. Spruce Up Your Front Door

Think of your front door as your home’s equivalent to a handshake when being introduced to a new person. You want it to be clean, strong, confident, and memorable for all the right reasons.

If the door hasn’t been painted for a while, a fresh coat of paint, on the door and the casing around it, can make the entrance shine. If you have the time and means, paint all of the exterior trim. During the winter, you may not be able to paint, but you can still clean the dirt and dust that accumulates on the door surface and sill.

Consider installing a new door handle and ensure the lock works smoothly. If it’s in your budget, hire a reputable locksmith and have them re-key all of the exterior doors to your home to just one key. Most locksmiths can also install electronic locking systems, which are increasingly popular in Canadian homes.

Ring your own doorbell. If it doesn’t work, repair or replace it.

Finally, if you want to add decorations such as a wreath to your door, use an over-the-door hanger to do so, and keep it simple.

3. Pull Out the Power Washer

If you don’t already own a power washer, you can likely borrow one from a friend, family member or neighbour, or rent one from a home improvement store. In the warmer months, they come in handy for everything from cleaning siding, eavestroughs, soffits, fences and decks, to garage doors, patios and bird baths. That fresh clean look is appealing to home buyers and adds to a home’s curb appeal.

4. Check and Clean Your Eavestroughs

If you are listing your home in the fall or winter, your eavestroughs may be full of leaves and other debris. Not only does this look messy, it can result in clogs that block water from draining properly, causing water damage to your home. Before you go on the market, walk around your property and ensure that your gutters and downspouts are all properly attached, with downspout extenders where needed.

If you aren’t comfortable cleaning eavestroughs, many window washing professionals include gutter cleaning in their service offerings. This rather neatly leads me to my next point, which is to …

5. Wash Your Windows!

While it’s hard to do when the temperature is below zero, at any other time of year washing your windows (and window screens!) is an important part of preparing your home for sale. If you have removed your window screens and stored them in the basement, ensure they are visible to a buyer when they tour your home. Label each screen with the room information to help a buyer re-install them.

6. Check Your House Number and Mailbox

Tired, beat-up mailbox? Rusty house numbers? When showing properties I am often surprised by how often I see both. They are nuisance jobs and I’ve been guilty of leaving them myself. When you are preparing to sell your home though, they need to be hiked up to the top of the list.

7. Choose a New Welcome Mat

A former neighbour had a front door mat that simply said "Go Away". It made me chuckle every time I went to his front door, but it’s not the message you want a potential buyer to see. If your mat needs replacing, choose a welcoming message or a neutral pattern.

8. Outdoor lights

Our outside lights don’t usually get much love. As long as they work, they are ignored and sometimes gather a coating of dirt and dust.

In the winter, however, buyers (and their agents!) rely on those lights to get to the front door and open the lockbox, so make sure they work and are all the same strength and colour. It is oddly disorienting to have a bright white bulb on one side of a front door and a soft yellow light on the other side. Consistency in colour will make a stronger positive impression.

The Bottom Line

Buyers are instinctively drawn to strong curb appeal, both online in the photos they see, and in person when they arrive at your property. It sets the stage (and the buyer’s expectations) for what the rest of the home will look like, and lets potential buyers know the home has been well maintained.

Need help with your next move? Call Wendy Lepore for #resultsthatmoveyou!