Is Your Front Entrance Welcoming?

Home Stager with Just Your Style Interiors, LLC

Does your front entrance invite buyers in or scare them away?  I was inspired to write this post when I pulled into this driveway for a recent staging consultation. 

No trespassing front entrance

Not one, but two "No Trespassing" signs?  This home has been on the market for over a year and a half.  And, no, it's not just those two signs that have kept it from selling, or the two rather menacing looking statues on the lava-rock walls. However, a combination of those elements plus a large amount of landscaping debris sends a subtle message to buyers before they even walk through the front door. Looking at this photo, are you anxious and excited to walk up the front stairs and see what is beyond?  Hardly.  Yet beyond the gargoyles and the no trespassing signs this home boasts a drop-dead, bi-coastal panoramic ocean view.

Are you excited to see the home in the photo below?  It's not only "No Trespassing" signs that send a prospective buyer the message that the home is not welcoming.  This photo is taken three-quarters of the way up the driveway, and yet there is only a hint of the front stairs and entrance through the trees on the left. 

Hidden Front Entrance

Once in this driveway, you can not exit the car on either side without shaking hands with the overwhelming palm fronds.  This home is built on a standard 8,000 square foot South Maui lot.   While everyone likes a little privacy, unless you want buyers to fall in love with and remember your garage door, why not thin out the vegetation and showcase the home and the front entrace--which, in this case, boasts a beautifully carved wooden door. 

In the third photo we finally get to see an actual front door--well most of it. 

Front entrance hidden by plants

Prospective buyers shouldn't have to dodge around the landscaping to get to your front entrance.  In this photo there should be a complete view of the front door--which is painted a warm and inviting color.  However, the plants on both sides are overgrown, and behind the plant on the right is a bench.  When buyers approach the door they are forced into an awkward single file. 

Feeling crowded out front?  This home is only around 1700 square feet, so "small" is not the best first impression to make on a prospective buyer.  It would take this homeowner less than 10 minutes to trim back the vegetation and really open up the front entrance.  Only place a bench at your front entrance if you have lots of space.  In this case, where the entrance is narrow, the bench should be removed, since it can't be seen and serves no useful purpose. 

In this next photo, the homeowner is close to getting it right. 

Front Entrance

The vegetation is groomed to completely open up the walkway, the door is visible from the street, the front walkway is neat and clean--it's just a bit on the bland side.  I'd love to see the homeowner paint the front door an eye-popping shade of red, but I'll settle for some interest being added with a simple pot of vibrant-colored flowers.

Front entrance enhanced

There, much better.  Now don't you want to go inside?  Buyers will, too. 

In this market, leave nothing to chance.  As a home stager I look at every aspect of your home, from the front entrance to the rear lot line.  Everthing makes an impression on a buyer, and home stagers make sure that each and every impression is as favorable as it can be.  Wonder if your front entrance is inviting enough to lure in offers?  Consult a home stager in your area to find out.

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  1. Jeff and Paulia Kennedy 05/15/2011 01:52 AM
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Jeff and Paulia Kennedy
the Kennedy Crew, Hot Springs 1st Choice Realty - Hot Springs, AR

Great post, and worth re-blogging!!  Thanks for sharing.

May 15, 2011 01:49 AM #25
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

Janet, excellent examples with your photos of what it takes to make the front area inviting.

May 15, 2011 02:08 AM #26
Donald Reich
Prudential Centennial - New Rochelle, NY

Great posting. The pictures say it all! I love the 'no trespassing' sign!

May 15, 2011 02:16 AM #27
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Janet, this is very true. First impressions go a long way when driving up the driveway.

May 15, 2011 02:33 AM #28
Howard and Susan Meyers
The Hudson Company Winnetka and North Shore - Winnetka, IL

Janet,  Great post.  No matter how great the interior, if you can't get them in the front door, you can't sell them the house.  How many times have you driven up to a house for an appointment when the buyer said that they're "not going inside that one"?

May 15, 2011 02:53 AM #29
Erica Ramus
Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA - Pottsville, PA
MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate

The 2 no trespassing signs scream to me that they've had problems with trespassers in the past. Ugh.

May 15, 2011 04:27 AM #30
Barbara Altieri
RealtyQuest/Kinard Realty Group, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate - Shelton, CT
REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale

Janet -- No trespassing signs on an open listing?  You are absolutely correct that the exterior either welcomes or not.  Staging is just as important on the outside as it is on the inside.

May 15, 2011 05:11 AM #31
Julia Maher
Nestings: Connecticut Home Staging and Model Homes - Fairfield, CT
Connecticut Home Stager

Very dramatic examples of "what NOT to do", Janet!  Kinda creepy...

May 15, 2011 05:39 AM #32
Liz Wallace
Century 21 Sherlock Homes - Rockville Centre, NY
Broker C21 Sherlock Homes, Rockville Centre, LI, N
The no trespassing signs would be a huge turnoff for me.
May 15, 2011 07:24 AM #33
Angie Boyd
San Rafael, CA

Wow. No Trespassing sign really sends the wrong message. 

May 15, 2011 10:57 AM #34
Sheila Newton Team Anderson & Greenville SC
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - C. Dan Joyner - Anderson, SC
Selling the Upstate since 1989

the no trespassing sign should be replaced with a little garden welome sign.. or at least a real estate sign

May 15, 2011 01:26 PM #35
Janet Jones
Just Your Style Interiors, LLC - Kihei, HI
Home Staging, Interior Redesign Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

Evelyn--Yes, the same thing I thought--one no trespassing sign is not enough.  I certainly advised that they remove the signs, the fui dogs and the debris. 

Sandi--thank you for your comments.  I never like to stop short of "perfect", thus those last sellers had to have a colorful plant. 

Rene--thanks for your comments.

Kathy--Thank you so much.  Yes, so often sellers want to start the consultation inside the front entrance, like the yard and curb appeal will somehow magically take care of itself. 

Kathleen--yes, in this market, every little thing can become a huge negative in a buyer's mind.  As far as the yard debris goes, the last house I sold I was out there every single day sweeping and picking up the debris when it was on the market.  Just what needs to be done to create the best first impression.

May 15, 2011 02:09 PM #36
Janet Jones
Just Your Style Interiors, LLC - Kihei, HI
Home Staging, Interior Redesign Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

Mike--great comment.  Couldn't agree with you more. 

Jeff, Paulia and Debi--thanks and you are welcome to re-blog. 

Gary--thanks so much for your kind comments. 

Donald--Apparently buyers love the signs, too, and have taken the sellers at the their words!

Michael--The sellers don't get a second chance to make a good first impression either. 

Howard and Susan--Can't blame buyers for not wanting to waste their time viewing a property they don't like on first impressions.  The sad thing is that the changes necessary to get the property from unwelcoming to inviting usually are simple, but so often overlooked.

May 15, 2011 02:15 PM #37
Janet Jones
Just Your Style Interiors, LLC - Kihei, HI
Home Staging, Interior Redesign Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

Erica--the strange thing is based on where this property is I really don't think they have had or would ever have a problem with trespassers.  They never explained to me why the two signs were there. 

Barbara--For all my consultations, staging starts at the curb and goes to the back fence--so every little detail, like these signs, would be brought to everyone's attention and dealt with before a prospective buyer would ever see them.

Julia--I like that.  "Creepy" is definitely the feeling you get by looking at this photo.

Liz--me, too, and apparently a lot of other buyers who have toured the property. 

Angie--I agree.  That was my first response to seeing these. 

Sheila--Anything welcoming would be a huge improvement.  The Realtor's sign is actually on the other side of the driveway, so it's not in the photo.


May 15, 2011 02:23 PM #38
Kristine Ginsberg
Elite Staging and Redesign, LLC - Short Hills, NJ
NJ Home Stager

Janet - Just came back to congratulate you on a well deserved post! Always great to see a great post recognized!

May 16, 2011 03:08 AM #39
Janet Jones
Just Your Style Interiors, LLC - Kihei, HI
Home Staging, Interior Redesign Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

Thank you, Kristine!

May 16, 2011 09:06 AM #40
Joan Cox
Metro Brokers - House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Janet, you make such valid points, and hope these sellers make some changes so that the homes SELL!

May 22, 2011 03:56 AM #41
Janet Jones
Just Your Style Interiors, LLC - Kihei, HI
Home Staging, Interior Redesign Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

Joan--the sellers are moving very slowly--but at least in the right general direction. 

May 22, 2011 09:54 AM #42
Greg McCown
Century 21 1st American - Tucson, AZ

Great post.  Your pictures illustrate your points perfectly.

May 26, 2011 05:42 AM #43
Janet Jones
Just Your Style Interiors, LLC - Kihei, HI
Home Staging, Interior Redesign Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

Greg--Thanks for your comments.

May 27, 2011 12:57 AM #44
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Janet Jones

Home Staging, Interior Redesign Kihei, Maui, Hawaii
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