10 Tips to Stage for Maximum Curb Appeal

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What would you see if you stood in front of your home right now? Would the siding, landscaping and walkways be eye-catching or drab and dirty? Maximizing your curb appeal offers a great return on investment by making it easier to market your home and even adding thousands of dollars to your asking price.

I recently took a walk through my neighborhood in Queens, New York and I couldn’t believe how many homes with for sale signs had overgrown grass, dead flower beds, crumbling stoops and missing shingles or siding. Buyers want to see that a seller has taken care of their home, so as daunting as it may seem you’ll need to make your home’s exterior shine to give them the right first impression. Start about 30 days in advance of putting your home on the market and you can impress buyers at the curb with these ten tips.

1. Clean or Repair Roof
A simple bleach and water solution can help you clean off dirt and mold that has collected on your shingles and keep house hunters from imagining a costly roof replacement. Repairing any damaged areas of your roof will also enhance the structural integrity of your home and prevent water damage, pest infestation and mold.

2. Clean or Replace Gutters
While your focused on the roof, make sure you clean out the gutters, which can get rusty or damaged from the weather. If a simple cleaning won’t do, consider replacing them with snap-fit vinyl systems that are more durable and easy to maintain.

3. Replace Windows
If you have windows that stick, leak or have peeled, replacing your windows can instantly update the exterior and make the house more energy efficient, a benefit buyers love. In fact, in a recent National Association of Home Builder survey of homebuyer preferences, energy efficiency features topped the list of desirable items.

4. Repaint Exterior or Replace Siding
Does your home need a facelift? Consider repainting the exterior siding and trim if your paint has faded or is peeling. This is a budget-friendly fix that has a major impact. Don’t forget to use a pop of color on your front door!

5. Redo the Driveway or Walkway
If you have a driveway or walkway that’s cracked or housing unwanted vegetation, it’s time to kill off the weeds and fix the cracks in your concrete or asphalt. Have a stone driveway? Consider adding more stones to make it look like new again.

6. Fix the Porch or Stoop
Buyers will linger here and look around as they wait to enter your home. Make sure your front porch is structurally sound and that there aren’t any missing bricks or wobbly railings. If you’re comfortable with a power washer, giving this area a good blast can really make it shine.

7. Liven Up Flower Beds
Remove dead debris and cutback overgrown shrubs. Add colorful flowers, mulch and plants that have varying height to the beds. Make sure that beds frame out your house.

8. Add Potted Plants
Welcome buyers with colorful flowers or topiaries near the front door to add some life to this hardscape. Try to have at least two matching planters on either side of the door or if you don’t have enough space on your porch use one larger planter in a corner and consider adding two other planters at varying height in the same corner to create a statement.

9. Install New Hardware
Check your house numbers, lighting fixtures, doorknobs and mailbox to see if you could benefit from new hardware. These quick fixes are not only easy to install, but are cost effective and instantly make the area around your door stand out. Make sure all the hardware is the same material.

10. Accessorize Your Porch
This is the final step when adding curb appeal to your home. Add accessories like a seasonal wreath, a new doormat and a seating area around your front door to invite buyers into your home.

If you really want to leave a lasting impression with buyers, use these additional tips to maximize your curb appeal.

Tori Toth is a Certified Home Staging Expert, Regional Vice President for Real Estate Staging Association, owner of Stylish Stagers, Inc and the creator of the Stage 2 Sell Strategy. She has been interviewed on CNN Money and was named a Professional Stager of the Year Finalist in 2012.