If you’ve ever sold a home, you know what it’s like to get the interior into pristine shape so that potential buyers are impressed as soon as they step inside and take their first look around.
You clean, you de-clutter, you re-arrange art and accessories, you sometimes re-paint a few rooms and do anything it takes to create a welcoming impression.
When sellers work with me, I have a professional home stager who works with me to recommend simple changes that can make a big difference, not just for the buyers considering the home but for how the home will look in the professional photos that post on various public websites. My stager and I will even help do some of the work if you don’t have time.
With so much concern over the inside of the home, it’s easy to forget that the first thing people see when they arrive with their agent is the outside of your home, including the exterior of the house and your lawn, garden, entrances or decks.
When their agent is busy retrieving the key, buyers will be “pre-judging” the outside, and wondering if your property says “home” to them. If the exterior looks tired and neglected, the buyers are forming an impression of your property and whether it’s going to stay on their list.
That’s why it’s crucial for sellers to do the same kind of touch-ups and maintenance on the outside that they do on the inside! We refer to it as “curb appeal” that your home has for buyers and the attraction value of the property.
My stager and I will recommend some specific things that you might consider for the exterior of your home. But here are a few simple things you can consider to improve your home’s curb appeal, both for visitors and for the online photos that are so important to whether buyers will decide to even come and look at your home:
1. De-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter: De-cluttering is the first thing we suggest on the inside of the home, and it also applies to your exterior. Put away children’s toys and any garden tools. If you have a garden or lawn hose, don’t leave it tangled in a messy pile. Wrap it neatly and hang it on a reel or holder to help your exterior look neat and orderly.
2. Clean, clean, clean: Just as you clean the inside, clean your home’s exterior and grounds. As buyers wait on your steps, you don’t want them looking around and noticing dust-covered siding or cobwebs. Hose down or power-wash your driveway, your front steps and entrance steps and your siding. Remove stains from the driveway and wash all windows.
3. New Paint Colours for Doors and Trim: It may not be necessary to paint your entire exterior, but just as with the inside of your home, a fresh, clean paint colour in certain areas can make a big difference. Consider a new contemporary colour for your front door, and/or your window trim and garage door, with a glossy finish to give it pop. Freshly painted trim is always a good idea. Avoid dated colours like white, green or brown. My stager and I can make suggestions for colours that would work with your exterior. A contemporary, fashionable colour can be a drawing card for buyers.
3. Consider simple window shutters or adding extra window trim: To give your windows more presence, consider purchasing some contemporary window shutters or adding some extra trim around the windows. Both are available at home supply stores and need not be expensive.
4. New address numbers and exterior lamps: If you are selling an older home, and you’ve had the same address numbers and exterior entrance lights for many years, they probably look tired and dated. An easy and inexpensive way to freshen it up is with some contemporary new numbers and lighting fixtures.
5. Repair or replace anything that looks damaged: This includes any loose or damaged pieces of siding, cracks in your sidewalk, driveway or front steps and any parts of a fence that look damaged or wobbly.
6. Camouflage the air conditioning unit: If you have a large central air conditioning unit on the ground outside your home in an open and easily viewed area. A natural-wood fence around the unit always looks more attractive than leaving the industrial-looking conditioner sitting in the open. Also, a small bush will hide an unsightly air conditioner as well.
7. Mow and rake your lawn and keep it green: When you are selling your home over the busy spring and summer season, it’s important to keep your lawn trimmed, raked and attractive for visitors. If you don’t have a green thumb yourself or a lot of time, consider hiring a company to aerate and fertilize the lawn over the summer to keep it looking its best. A neglected, patchy lawn will give visitors a bad impression before they step inside.
8. Touch up your garden, trim overgrown shrubs and add flower pots or baskets: Even if you are not an avid gardener, you can make your lot look better by removing any dead plants and flowers and trimming any overgrown shrubs. Plant some flowers, or if you’re too busy, at least buy a few big pots of flowers to add to your front entrances and back yard or decks. In spring and summer, it’s easy to find spectacular pots and hanging baskets from sites that in the Ottawa area include the Parkdale and ByWard Markets.
9. Stage your porch and decks: If you have a front porch or back or side deck, even if you don’t sit on them regularly yourself, you can stage them to show buyers what welcoming spaces they are. If you have the space, put some patio chairs and side tables at your entrance and on your decks or back lawn. If you have an outdoor table on a back deck for summer dining, you can set it with plates and placemats or flower centrepieces before a showing, just as you might set a dining table inside the home, to help give that welcoming feel and let buyers imagine themselves using the spaces for summer entertaining.
10. Get a Brand New Welcome Mat: In an easy and very inexpensive touch-up, buy a brand-new and spotlessly clean welcome mat to make those potential buyers feel they’re stepping into a home that’s been lovingly maintained.
With simple touch-ups like these, you can accomplish the essential: ensuring visitors are impressed even before they’ve seen what you’ve done on the inside.
If you’re considering selling over the busy spring and summer season, I’d love to meet with you and offer more suggestions. Every home is individual, and there might be specific suggestions that I would make once I’ve seen your property. You can contact me through my website (www.nancybenson.com) or by calling my office at 613-788-2556.