How to Attract Buyers on a Drive-By

Real Estate Sales Representative with RE/MAXCamosun (Chatterton)

Curb appeal is so important when a buyer is looking to purchase a house. There is much a seller can do in order to make their house look more attractive, but how far do you go? How much do you spend? The answer, of course, is “It depends.”

It depends on how much the home is worth. It depends on how much the seller is willing to spend in order to get top dollar. It depends on the market—if it is a super hot market, the seller needn’t spend a lot—it will sell regardless.


The following is an attempt to give the seller some inexpensive solutions to make the exterior of their property more eye-catching to a potential buyer. When a buyer sees a property for the first time, their first impression is usually a lasting one. It is the little things that count.

Many homes are first viewed by a buyer on a ‘drive-by’. It is during this initial one to two minute viewing that a buyer will decide to call their Realtor® and want to take an inside look at this property. So, it is important to make the home look its best from the outset of it being listed for sale. 

  • It is imperative to keep the lawns cut and the flower beds weeded. People like to see a defined garden area, so it’s important to trim the edges. While you are at it, give the hedge a trim. Large shrubs or trees that impede views or just look overgrown should be pruned or trimmed back. If you cannot keep the yard in a presentable condition yourself, it may be a prudent idea to hire the services of a gardening service while the house is on the market.
  • Give your home an exterior inspection. Walk around the house and note anything that could be fixed quickly and inexpensively, such as broken or missing downspouts, loose eaves troughs, wobbly handrails, missing shingles, etc. Coil your hoses and put all garden tools out of sight. You may have to hire a handyman for a day.
  • There should be no clutter or trash in the yard—front, side or back. Remove old lumber, tires, tools and any unsightly objects from along the side of the house. Keep trash cans in an inconspicuous place.
  • Keep walkways and driveways clean and weed free. A power washer is a valuable tool when it comes to driveways. Renting one for a half day is money well spent.
  • Keep the deck(s) clean and clutter free. If you have deck furniture, but it is old and tired, toss it! The deck will look better without it. Here again, the power washer comes in handy when rejuvenating a deck.
  • Look at the siding of the house. Is it dirty? Can it be cleaned? Then, I guess you’ll just have to rent that power washer for the full day. It can be used to remove any dirt or moss growing on the exterior of the house.
  • Clean the windows—inside and outside.
  • Prop up the fence if it is sagging. Replace (and paint) any missing boards.
  • Keep that garage door closed. You may have to paint it if it is unsightly. If the garage door is ever up during a ‘drive by’, it had better be clean, clean, clean on the inside! You may have to have stuff dragged to the local storage facility for the duration of the listing period.
  • Most magazine articles on the subject of ‘first impressions’ will tell the reader that the front door and porch area is most critical. It is here that the buyer’s eye will be drawn when looking at the exterior of the house. A fresh coat of paint on the door, porch, steps and railings is an important consideration. A red door means welcome! If there is room, place a colorful flower pot or two and a rocking chair on the porch to make the area inviting. Consider replacing the mailbox and putting down a brand new ‘Welcome’ mat!


Remember, while listed, your house is in competition with others in your neighborhood for potential buyers to view, poke, prod, inspect and investigate. It is no longer your home, but a product for sale in a competitive market. The potential buyer may look at your house for only a few seconds initially, and what they see in that short period of time will stick in their minds. You want it to be a memorable occasion for that buyer. You want them to contact their Realtor® for a further viewing. You get only one kick at the can! You never get a second chance at a first impression!


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ted tyrrell
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first impressions when buying a house
how to make a house appealing cheaply
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Carmen V. Rodriguez
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Chicago, IL

Great advice - and valid for traditional sales as well as for short and distressed sales. If, after all, what we want to do is sell, then all the tried and true methods deserve some consideration in the arsenal. Thanks for posting!

Jan 31, 2011 05:19 AM #1
John Durham
Durham Executive Group - RE/MAX/Results - Woodbury, MN

Good advice, Ted!  It can be difficult for some homeowners to keep up with the home and lawn maintenance on a regular basis, but it is so important - and the end result is worth it!

Jan 31, 2011 05:28 AM #2
Ted Tyrrell
RE/MAXCamosun (Chatterton) - Victoria, BC
Selling Homes in Beautiful Victoria

Thank you Carmen for your input.

Thanks John. It's worth paying to money for someone to do it.

Jan 31, 2011 05:40 AM #3
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Ted Tyrrell

Selling Homes in Beautiful Victoria
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