Musings from a life of chances and changes
You're about to sell your home. You look around the house and see that you need to remodel or replace items in various rooms. You do your research and find the updates that will bring you the most return on your investment. But before you spend your budget on the interior, take a deep breath and go outside. The most important thing you need to take care of is your home's curb appeal. Try to see the exterior of the home through the eyes of a buyer. Without curb appeal, buyers tend to walk away. The first impression is critical. Here are some improvements that will entice buyers to leave the curb and walk inside.
1. Roofing. Buyers notice if your roof needs repair. They are already adding up the expense to repair or replace it. You may just need to do a simple cleaning, or the roof may require something more extensive. If you are going to replace the roof, look at the architectural details of your home. Savvy buyers know that a Mediterranean tile roof looks odd on a prairie style home. Likewise, the least expensive flat shingled roof does nothing to enhance the beauty of your home, but it is easier on the budget. Think about the fact that you are trying to maximize your ability to sell. Buyers are not looking to see "personality" up there. It's more important to appeal to the masses than to take risks. So, if you decide to install a red roof, buyers may prefer an overnight motel stay than an investment property.
2. Cleaning. It seems like a no-brainer but most of us come in and out of our homes without looking at them critically. One of the least expensive ways to achieve curb appeal is to use a pressure washer on the walkways, garage, oil stains on the driveway and other dirty surfaces. Windows should sparkle and have no visible spider webs. Also, make sure the yard is free of the remnants of dog waste. Nothing kills curb appeal more than a buyer stepping on dog poop.
3. Painting. The best use of your exterior budget is to paint where needed. If you do a visual check around your house, you will notice areas that may need to be repaired. Taking my own advice, I looked at the wood trim on my stone house. I noticed an area that a woodpecker attacked and called the painter. Resist the urge to renovate the entire exterior. It isn't necessary and it will definitely bust your budget. It is best to take a chip from your existing paint and match it. As for selecting your exterior paint color, do not go wild. It is better to blend in with your neighborhood. Appraisers have been known to decrease the value of a home with a wild paint color.
4. Landscaping. I have to admit that I am a sucker for beautiful landscaping. Keep the grass in top shape or repair some of the rough spots. Trim bushes and trees that hide your home. Even landscaping can be outdated and tired looking. Open up the look of your house and manicure or replace the old overgrown evergreens. Using simple dark mulch around the shrubs is a quick refresh to spruce up the yard. As with everything else it is smart not to overdo. Too many potted planters look busy and colors should be neutral. Limit the display of lawn ornaments to only those that enhance the look of your home. Now is not the time to show your "personality."
5. Hardscaping. Some of the most attractive features that sell homes are its hardscapes. All sidewalks, driveways, patios, and decks, need to be in good repair. If you do not have a deck or patio, rest assured you will get an incredible return on your investment by building a good one. The National Association of Realtors found that a patio recoups 102% of its cost and a deck recoups 106%. You will also benefit from outdoor living and entertaining spaces.
Selling your home is a difficult process. Make it easier by doing ongoing maintenance and upgrades while living in your home. When you follow these tips and are ready to sell, your improvements will translate into excellent curb appeal and the buyers will line up at your front door.
Judi Berger is an attorney and real estate broker who is blogging as she begins a new chapter in her life.