How many times have you been told to, "never judge a book by it's cover?" I'm guessing countless may be an understatement...
There are few instances where a snap judgement at first sight may leave a lasting first impression that can't be forgotten. Searching for a home is no exception. Sure, the magic of the internet and pictures can paint a seemingly perfect picture when scrolling through listings on line, but what happens when you get in the car and and pull up to said home in person for the first time?
Is it like an early episode of Catfish, or has the seller (hopefully at the direction of their agent) taken the few simple and easy steps necessary to keep the momentum going?
The toughest listings are the ones I have or see where the seller has taken so much time and care to complete all the right updates and renovations inside. New kitchen, baths, flooring, paint, moldings, decor, even staging with furniture and artwork. But they ignore the outdoor components of the home.
Here is my list of the 7 most overlooked exterior items that won't get your house a second date with a potential buyer's short list (and the simple fixes to turn it all around):
1. Landscaping, landscaping, landscaping...
There's nothing worse than driving by or pulling up to a house with brown grass patches, overgrown weeds, messy rock beds or unmanicured shrubbery.
If you make the conscious decision to put your house on the market, do what it takes to make it look good, or pay a local landscaper to do it for you. Freshly planted flowers and mulch beds go a long way, weed killer is your best friend, keep the lawn watered twice a day, and keep it tidy. The better the impression you make, the quicker your house will sell and the less time you will have to keep it up!
2. When's the last time you thought about your driveway?
What condition is your driveway in? If it's concrete, are there cracks or weeds growing through. If asphalt, how is the color, are there bulges? If it's stone or gravel, does it look as neat as possible?
Get a professional to come reseal, patch, clean or do whatever is necessary to keep the safety hazards to a minimum and keep things looking as shiny and new as possible. Depending on the set up of your house, the driveway can account for a large part of the of the yard and perception from the street view.
3. What does your siding say about you?
A large number of homes have a vinyl product for siding. There is nothing worse than seeing this dirty, moldy or cracked, it's a huge turn off. If you have wood, asbestos, or aluminum siding, keep in mind that it needs to be kept up, don't let peeling paint or chipped/cracked material be how your home is remembered.
And what is your reason for not owning a power washer? Owning a home comes with responsibility and work, if you can't do it, hire someone. Keep it neat and clean...it's that simple. Paint, scrub, wash as necessary. Shutter's are also a great way to do a quick makeover or break up any boring largely sided areas.
4. A new front door can be such a simple change...
There's nothing worse than a freshly sided or painted house with the original front door, or a completely modernized concept with a traditional entryway.
If you can't afford to buy a new door (which you can always find on special at the local big box store) then paint what you've got, mix it up with a different color on the trim, or simply add a storm door. Buyer's love natural light and will notice the difference. A good buyer's agent will notice your effort and close only the storm door to create the desired effect.
5. Allow for easy access...
Are you a hoarder?? That's fine, but do it elsewhere, at least while your home is up for sale! Why would you inhibit anyone from getting to or around your home if they are possibly looking to purchase it?
Clean up, clean out and minimize. We get that you still live in the house, but tone it down if you're serious about selling. If you know the house is being shown, make sure the area of the driveway with the clearest and easiest path to the front door is available for the potential buyers.
6. Put it all away...
Are you running an on going garage sale, barbaque or playground, or trying to sell your house? The nicest looking yard can be ruined in an instant by outdoor clutter, bikes, toys, tools, ect...
Utilize your garage and basement, if you don't have one or both, think about investing in a shed. Put everything neatly away. Give things away or have a garage sale BEFORE you list the house.
7. Staging isn't only for indoors...
What condition is your outdoor or lawn furniture in? Do you have any? If you have a pool, how is it looking?
You may thinking staging is out of your budget, but you may be surprised. There are many inexpensive options and your local rent-a-center may be your best resource. Garage sales are also a great option, as long as you are looking for specific very lightly used pieces of outdoor furniture. An outdoor swing on the front porch or front yard can go a long way. A grilling and dining area in the back yard that is set up and inviting will really help potential buyers be able to picture themselves and their family there.
Do yourself a favor, if you are unsure, have a question, or need a suggestion -- just ASK! A good real estate professional who enjoys their job will be happy to offer suggestions and come by to customize a plan to make the exterior of your house and yard pop at first sight. Make sure the "shades match the carpets" and keep your potential buyers impressed from the time they pull up until your house fades from the rearview.