5 Steps to Stunning Curb Appeal

By ForSaleByOwner

Ethan Roberts is a real estate writer, editor and investor. He’s a frequent contributor to InvestorPlace.com, and his work has been featured on Money.msn.com and Reuters.com. He’s been investing in real estate since 1995 and has been a Realtor since 1998. He also teaches classes on investing in residential real estate.


Whether your goal is to to sell your own primary residence or to flip a great foreclosure, the shortcut to a fast sale at top dollar begins with creating great “curb appeal” for the home.

What exactly is “curb appeal”? It’s that vital first (and long-lasting) impression that prospective buyers get when they step out of their car and see your home for the first time. Since today that first view is often on the Internet rather than at the actual curbside, you’ll not only want to enhance the home’s look but also make sure you take great photos of it.

When I teach people how to create great curb appeal, I don’t just stop with the exterior of the home. Improving the interior, which I’ll cover in part 2 of this article, is just as important.

Here are five important changes to make that will create great exterior curb appeal and improve the chances of selling your home fast and for a top price:

1. Paint the exterior.
Nothing gives a home a better look and returns a great value on an appraisal than a fresh coat of paint. Select a color that’s warm, but somewhat neutral for the exterior walls. A dark color will make the home look smaller, so keep it light. I usually paint my homes beige, and then offset that with white for the trim and garage door. The front door and shutters can add some color to really make the home “pop” upon first impression.

2. Pressure wash.
Before you paint, buy or rent a pressure washer (or hire someone to do it), and remove all of the dirt and green mold (which is harmless, by the way) off the exterior of the home. You should also pressure wash the driveway, walkway to the front door, and sidewalks and curbs. Your home will look sparkling fresh and clean for just a few hours of effort. Safety tip: Watch out for spider webs, wasps, or bees around the soffits of your home as you’re pressure washing. Hire a professional pest control company first if your home has an abundance of hives or nests.

3. Improve that landscaping.
Make sure the lawn is mowed and edged once a week while your home is on the market. Brown patches or empty spots should be filled with fresh sod, or put grass seed down a month before you list the home for sale. Bushes should be neatly trimmed, leaves raked and bagged, dead branches removed from trees, and weeds pulled from beds and walkways. Adding red Cyprus mulch around flowerbeds brings some nice color to the home. If too many bushes are hiding your home from view, consider removing some of them. A nice pot of small, colorful flowers by the front door or planted in a window box is a great touch as well.

4. Spruce up the front door.
Make sure you pressure wash and paint the front door along with the rest of the home. Paint the door a colorful accent color like red, burgundy, black, brown, or green. It should match the shutters if you have them. You can also add a kick plate or door knocker in silver, black, or white to enhance the look of the door. An old, worn out doorbell is very easy and inexpensive to change. If your door still looks old and worn after painting it, consider buying a new one. Realtors know that buyers do take notice of a front door’s appearance in evaluating the condition of your home.

5. Surprise those buyers.
You can add miscellaneous items around the front that will elicit comments of pleasant surprise from those who view your home. For example, add a small filtered pond with goldfish, a row of solar lights, or a wrought iron bench under a tree to enhance the curb appeal. But don’t add too many items or your home may look cluttered and produce the opposite effect of what you intended.

Many of these home improvements are easy and inexpensive for an investor or homeowner to do, and should add equal or more value to the appraisal than what you spend. Be sure to let the buyer’s appraiser know all of the improvements you made so they will be considered toward evaluating your sales price.

Are you giving buyers the right first impression of your home online? Make sure you show off your curb appeal by including the photos every house hunter wants to see in your listing.

This information was originally published on Auction.com LLC, the nation’s leading online real estate marketplace.