STAGING THE OUTSIDE...REALLY?
Buds on branches and the chirping of birds signal the start of spring, but they also mean that the high season for real estate has arrived. If your house is on the market, then you’ve likely given some thought to staging — that is, furnishing and accenting rooms in a way that encourages prospective buyers to picture themselves moving in.
But what about your home’s exterior? Simple maintenance and easy updates can go a long way toward ensuring that your house makes a great first impression. If you’re looking for a quicker sale at a higher price, you’ll want to wow visitors from the first glance. Here’s how to post your curb appeal.
A neatly manicured yard demonstrates that you’ve taken good care of the house during your tenure as its owner; an unkempt lawn and garden suggest that you haven’t bothered with upkeep over the years. Rather than scare off house hunters before they’ve even stepped through the front door, spend an afternoon outdoors clearing away fallen leaves, broken branches and dead plantings.
If you own a power washer, now’s the time to put it through its paces. Use the tool to clean off the driveway, garage door, fencing and garden paths. Give some attention to the windows, too. Wash the glass on both sides — not only to benefit the outside of the home, but also to allow maximum light into the interior.
If any of the window trim has seen better days or any sections of the siding need repair, consider performing necessary cleaning and fixes. Features like these can make or break a first-time visitor’s perception of the property.
Focus on planting
Never underestimate the appeal of a lovely property. Even if your property is only a compact suburban plot, not rolling acreage in the countryside, you can do a lot to beautify the yard, front and back:
Trim the shrubs, shaping them carefully to avoid bald spots.
Weed the garden and plant seasonal blooming flowers.
Mulch the planting beds to inhibit weeds and promote growth.
In large, bare areas, plant a low-maintenance ground cover.
If sections of the lawn are dead, lay down sod for a fast fix. Depending on your timeline, reseeding may also be an option.
Window boxes are a classic choice for instant curb appeal. These are available in a wide variety of sizes, styles and materials (including wood, metal and PVC), so they don’t have to cost a lot. Depending on the window boxes you choose, installation can be a cinch.
Finally, strategically place potted plants in highly visible areas, such as the entryway. Just be careful not to go overboard. Eye-catching is one thing; a cluttered look is another.
Put your best foot forward
An ideal entrance is one that welcomes prospective buyers, coaxing them to come in and linger a while. Assess your entry, starting with the floor material. If it’s wood and there are loose boards, fasten them back into place, repainting if necessary. If it’s concrete, fill any cracks and restore crumbling edges or corners.
Put down a new doormat, too — something simple but sophisticated. And if you’ve had the same storm door for a decade, think seriously about replacing it. The same goes for sconces or overhead light fixtures. Additional candidates for replacement are worn-out knobs, knockers and kickplates.
For those perfect finishing touches, try statement house numbers and a distinctive mailbox. This may sound like significant work, but because it’s both the first and last part of your house that a visitor sees, the entry is a very smart place to put in a little extra effort.
Pick a palette
You may find it difficult to quickly offload a house that’s sorely in need of a paint job. Likewise, if your house is impeccably painted in your favorite color, and your favorite color happens to be pink, offers may not pour in.
Exterior paint is extremely important, not least because color packs a powerful psychological punch. Opt for a traditional, neutral hue. Tried-and-true alternatives include classic clapboard white, creamy off-white, warm taupe, light blue or blue-gray, and pale yellow.
When in doubt, take a cue from the neighbors. What colors are common on your street? In a selling situation, it’s typically better to fit in than stand out.
Prospective home buyers form opinions in mere seconds. By focusing some of your staging efforts on the exterior, you can ensure that buyers enter your home in a positive, optimistic frame of mind. And when push comes to shove, that could mean the difference between “For Sale” and “Sold.”