Sellers: Catch ’em at the curb “Curb appeal”

Catch ’em at the curb

“Curb appeal” isn’t just catchy real estate jargon. It recognizes the fact that many buyers form their first, and often strongest, opinions before they step out of the car. Remember, buying a home is first and foremost an emotional commitment, especially for first-time home buyers.

You may have a long list of logical reasons your home is a good catch, but a buyer is reacting emotionally to what he or she is seeing.

Knowing this, you can use a buyer’s emotions to your advantage. First, take a good, hard look at the first impression your property makes. What do people see? If it’s flaking paint and an unkempt yard, they may be seeing a home that needs a lot of work.

Here are some investments in your home’s exterior that we’ve found through firsthand experience can pay huge dividends:

Paint
It should come as no surprise that surveys show that painting the exterior of your home results in the greatest return on time and money invested when compared to other improvements done for selling purposes. An investment of $1,000-$2,000 can mean adding $3,000-$4,000 to your asking price. And if you can do a good job yourself, your profit is even greater.

Even if your home doesn’t need the full treatment, check the trim around windows and doorways for cracking or peeling, and do any necessary touch-up work.

Landscaping
Another key first impression is made by the grounds of your home. If you can improve the attractiveness of your landscape without spending a lot of money, you can add a good 5 to 10 percent to the value of your home.

Minimally, you should prune existing trees, shrubs and bushes, clean out dead plants and weeds from flower beds and replace them with colorful flowering plants. Because landscaping can become a high-maintenance headache if not done carefully, choose hardy perennials that require minimal care.

If you have a damaged lawn, you may need to take additional steps. The easiest step is to repair damaged sections with new sod. While seeding is cheaper, it won’t produce grass overnight. A good patch job can make for a great quick fix.

Other lawn problems—dead areas due to lack of sunlight or a tree’s root system—can be solved by planting ground cover or creating additional flower beds.

Like a new paint job, a relatively inexpensive upgrade of existing landscaping can bring far greater returns than what you spend. But don’t do anything that would be deemed excessive by neighborhood standards. The idea is to make your home more attractive, not stand out as an oddity.

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