Upping your home’s curb appeal is an important part of the process as you prepare your home for sale. It’s your chance to make a great first impression on potential homebuyers who come to see your house. High curb appeal can set your home apart from similar homes and increase the chance of a sale.
You might wonder, does curb appeal matter in a seller’s market? The answer is yes. Even in a seller’s market, homebuyers are discerning, and they will not be impressed when the first things they notice are dingy exterior paint, rotting front porch steps, and a dying tree. Negative first impressions can kill a sale. Plus, the more people who fall in love with your home, the more offers you’ll have on the table to choose from – which is a great position to be in as a seller.
There are lots of things you can do to improve curb appeal, including big repairs, small touches, and staging.
Address Big Issues to Improve Curb Appeal
It’s not fun to spend a lot of money on a house you’re planning to leave soon, but you might want or need to make big improvements to increase the chance of a sale (especially when a buyer’s market returns).
Take a step outside and look at each item on the list below with a critical eye to see if it needs sprucing up.
Exterior siding and trim – Pressure wash dirty exteriors. Repaint if paint is chipped or old, or to give a fresh look to the house. Repair or replace damaged siding, bricks, stonework, and trim as needed.
Shutters – Replace or repair damaged shutters. If replacing entirely, consider hurricane shutters or storm shutters; this can be a selling point in the South. Repaint if paint is chipped or old. Painting just the shutters in a new color – rather than the whole house – is an easier way to refresh your home’s look.
Roof – Repair or replace as needed. Yes, a brand new roof is a huge investment, but it’s also a big selling point to potential buyers. It’s worth considering if your roof needs it, especially if it looks bad to the naked eye.
Gutters – Repair or replace as needed, especially if they are pulling away from the house.
Garage door – Replace if it’s visibly damaged or broken. Consider a new color or material (wood or steel) to change the look of your home.
Front door – Replace or repair if damaged.
Front porch, stoop, or stairs – This is not just an issue of aesthetics but of safety, too. Make sure the steps leading to your home are even and level and that handrails are secure and in good condition. Repair or replace anything that needs it. If the porch or stairs are slanting, this could indicate a foundation problem that should be addressed by a professional.
Paths and driveways – Resurface the driveway if needed, and repair or replace any bricks, stonework, or concrete on walking paths. Again, this is not just about looks, but about safety, too.
Gates and fences – Repair or replace as needed, and make sure gate mechanisms work correctly.
Landscaping – This is an area where you can make an enormous impact on the way your home looks to prospective buyers. Remove extraneous things from the front lawn like kiddie pools, bikes, and so forth. Water and mow the lawn regularly to keep it looking healthy. Get rid of weeds, trim hedges, and lay down fresh mulch. If you have a dead, dying, or questionable tree, call a tree doctor to check it out. Adding new hedges, flower beds, or other features is a plus, but the most important thing is to maintain a clean, well-kept yard.
Small Things That Can Make a Difference
The items listed above can be big and expensive jobs. But there are a lot of smaller touches that can improve a home’s curb appeal that don’t require a lot of effort, time, or money.
Mailbox – If your mailbox has seen better days, consider getting a new one. While decorative mailboxes can be pricey, simple mailboxes are inexpensive, look good, and do the job.
New hardware – Replace the hardware on your front door for an instant lift. Consider replacing or adding a decorative door knocker, too.
Repaint door – A coat of paint on the door, especially in a new, eye-catching color, is an easy DIY upgrade.
House numbers – Decorative house numbers can add some personality to your house. Consider replacing them, especially if your current house numbers are difficult to read from the road.
Outside lighting fixtures – Replace or add sconces by the front door or overhead lighting fixtures on a covered porch or portico. Glass lanterns with pillar candles inside can look beautiful by the front door or on the steps leading up.
Welcome mat – A clean, new welcome mat is an easy upgrade.
Concerts at the CreditOne Stadium
Once you’ve got things clean and repaired, then amp up the charm by staging the scene. Home staging is not just about making a place look good but creating a scene that tells a story. It’s the story of a life you want prospective buyers to see themselves living.
Swing, rocking chairs, bench, or all-weather chairs – In the Lowcountry, a rocking chair or swinging bench on the front porch is practically mandatory! This is where your prospective homebuyer will relax with a glass of sweet tea at the end of the day. Create seating vignettes with little side tables in between chairs. Add some all-weather cushions and pillows to make it even more inviting.
Potted plants, trees, and flowers – Potted plants, trees, and flowers add an extra touch of beauty and life to the exterior of the home. Place them on your front porch or stoop by the door or on the sides of the steps leading to the front door. Planters may also look good on the ground along the front of the house, especially if there’s no other landscaping (like shrubbery) there.
Window boxes – An alternative or complement to potted plants, window boxes can add so much. They’re also a nice Charleston touch, as beautiful window boxes are a feature of many old homes on the peninsula.
Bird bath or bird feeder –A new bird bath or bird feeder is another simple way to bring some additional color and life to your home.
Flag – A country, state, or school flag can be a nice touch.
Wind chime – A wind chime hanging somewhere on the front porch adds to the ambiance.
Seasonal décor – Seasonal décor can get out of hand, especially over the winter holidays, but it can also make a home feel very homey and welcoming when done right. Add a seasonally appropriate wreath to your front door, arrange some pumpkins or gourds on the front porch in the fall, decorate pillars and porch rails with garlands in the winter, and so forth.
Work with a Real Estate Agent to Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal
As you can see from the list above, there are a ton of things you can do to improve your home’s curb appeal and make a great first impression on would-be buyers. Don’t know where to start? Ask your real estate agent for advice. They can tell you from experience what’s a must-do (like replacing an ancient, leaking roof) and what other tasks will give you the most return on investment of your time, money, and effort.
If you’re selling or buying in the Charleston, SC area, give me a call. My name is Kenton Selvey and I’m an experienced Realtor with William Means. Whether you’re ready to put your home on the market tomorrow or you’re just starting to think about it, I’d love to speak with you. It’s never too early to start preparing your home. Call me at 843-806-7222 or email me here. I look forward to hearing from you!