Love at first sight starts at the Curb
It maybe cliché but it still rings true when you are selling your home; “There are no second chances to make a good first impression”. The truth is most buyers start their decision to buy at the curb (both the real curb and the virtual curb). That first impression of your home needs to strike interest from the moment a buyer pulls up to your home in their car or cruises by on the Internet. A buyer will decide in less than 60 seconds if they are going to get out of the car and come in to see what a home has to offer. It is likely 30 seconds or less for a buyer to decide when they are looking at the initial photos of your home on the web as to whether they will click through to the next picture. This is why curb appeal is important.
The idea of curb appeal has been described as an “intangible quality that entices buyers to think emotionally rather than logically”. Curb appeal is that dream a buyer has of where they see themselves living and enjoying their family and friends.
Figuring out how much curb appeal you actually have or where you register on a curb appeal scale is not easy. One of the best ways to judge your curb appeal is to take pictures of your property from various angles at different times of the day then show them to friends, family, and colleagues. (Only ask those you know who be honest with you, we generally know who those people are in our lives). Ask them for an opinion on what they like about the home and yard, and what they see in the pictures that could use some improvement. You can also take the photos to a nursery for a professional landscaper's opinion. Most importantly, consult your real estate professional. Your local Sonoma real estate professional has experience selling homes here in the valley and can be your best resource for prepping your home for buyers. We as real estate professionals try to define “curb appeal” for sellers as something more tangible and attainable than a buyer’s unspoken dream. Your agent will be happy to walk around the property with you and view it from across the street and give you feedback on what you have already done as well as what other ideas might help improve the curb appeal. Together you and your agent can develop a work plan and a "to do" list, brainstorming cost effective ideas to get your home market ready so that buyers want to come in and see the rest rather than telling their agent let’s just go to the next one or clicks on to the next home on their computer.
Don’t underestimate the small changes that make a big difference in your home’s curb appeal: planting fresh flowers leading to your front door, fixing the broken pickets in the picket fence, or replacing a torn front screen door.
Here are my top 5 “Get them at the curb” ideas:
- Paint. A fresh coat of paint can renew a tired home. If your home has peeling, cracked or chipped surfaces it’s time to paint! There is something about freshly painted windows with planter boxes that make buyers swoon. It has been proven time and time again that painting your home’s exterior will result in one of the highest returns on your investments compared to other improvements.
- Landscape. When people think about “curb appeal”, landscaping is one of the first things that come to mind. Make sure your lawn is mowed and edged, clear away dead leaves and flowers, and mulch and weed the beds then add new flowers for fresh color. New flowers and fresh mulch make a home more inviting. It sounds like a no-brainer but you would be surprised home many homes have more weeds in the yard than lawn. It is also a good idea to cut back any foundation plantings that have become overgrown. These things do not go unnoticed by picky buyers and can make your home look old and dated.
- Repair and Revamp. If something is broken fix it. Repair and paint your fence. Broken pickets are a buyer turnoff. Replace any broken lights and outdated light fixtures (this is also a good suggestion for dated interior light fixtures as well). Paint or replace the front door. New paint and new door hardware have a minimal cost but a maximum impact. Replace the mailbox and house numbers. New numbers can give a great first impression. All of these things can give your home a fresh new look.
- Unclutter. We mostly think of uncluttering the interior of a home to make it look more spacious but tidying up the exterior is just as important. Make sure the garden tools and implements are stowed away. It can be as simple as putting away the rake and lawn mower after you use them. Remember, if you have a dog to not only clean up after him but to pick up his toys as well. Keep your outdoor furniture to a minimum. Talk to your agent about staging your yard. Think about adding some yard art that compliments your homes personality.
- Clean. A good cleaning will give buyers the best impression of your home inside and out. Clean the windows and wash down the driveway, walkways and decks. Make sure the outdoor furniture and cushions are also clean. You will be surprised at how bright it makes your home feel.
Improving your curb appeal does not have to be an overwhelming process. Remember, a sale can be made or lost as a direct result of your home's curb appeal. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. What would you want to see when drive up or what photo makes you click to see the details and more photos of a home?
David Kerr has been a full-time REALTOR® since 1999. He serves clients in Sonoma and Napa wine country. He has also worked at the California Association of Realtors, as a Director and Regional Chair. He can be reach at Terra Firma Global Partners,
707-933-7020 - email@example.com