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Key Exterior Improvements

Most buyers make snap judgments about your house, and buyers begin forming their opinion of your house long before they go inside. Curb appeal, the external attractiveness of your property when viewed from the street, is critically important. Here are some tried-and-true ways to enhance your house's curb appeal:

  • Painting: Painting your house's exterior before you put it on the market gives the biggest bang for your fix-up buck - if you use colors that conform with your neighborhood's decorating norm. Now isn't the time to make a fashion statement! White, light grays, or soft tans are safe choices for exterior walls. If your house doesn't need a new paint job, at least touch up window frames, front shutters, gutters and down spouts. Also, be sure to give your mailbox and front door a fresh coat of paint.
  • Lawn: A freshly mowed, neatly trimmed lawn gives your house a well-maintained appearance. Don't leave toys, lawn equipment, or garden hoses scattered around the yard. You can make your grass look extra lush and green by fertilizing it in the appropriate season.
  • Sidewalks: Sweep your sidewalks daily. Keep your walks free of snow and ice in the winter.
  • Shrubbery: Remove or replace any dead or dying trees, hedges, or shrubs and prune anything that looks scraggly or overgrown. Cut back overgrown shrubs that block windows and keep light from entering your house.
  • Flowers: Filling flower beds with seasonal flowers is an inexpensive way to add color and charm to property. Repairs: Be sure that all gutters and down-spouts are in place and clean. Replace missing roof shingles and broken or cracked windows. Repair cracks in your driveway and remove large oil stains. Replace or repair broken stairs, torn window screens, broken or missing fence slats, and defective doorknobs. Make sure that your front and back doors, garage doors, and all windows open easily. Check exterior lights to be certain that they're working properly.
  • Windows: Keep your windows spotless inside and out throughout the marketing period. When you're not home, curious buyers attracted by the For Sale sign will peek through the windows to size up your house. Don't let their first impression be windows covered with cobwebs and smeared with fingerprints.
  • Eliminate or hide clutter: Clear everything you don't need out of the garage. Friends and family who live nearby can be a great source of temporary places to stash your excess stuff. If you can't clean your garage out, at least keep the door closed to conceal the mess from prying eyes. Don't have a fleet of cars, trucks, boats, and campers cluttering up your driveway or parked in front of your house.

You probably lack both the time and the desire to do all this prep work yourself. If you can afford it, make your life easier by hiring competent folks to help you with these chores. Your real estate agent can probably refer you to people who specialize in this kind of work.