The importance of Curb Appeal when you go to Sell your Home
From a very early age, everyone becomes familiar with the age old saying… first impressions are everything. From the first job interview, to the first date, or meeting the parents for the first time. The same applies for when it comes time to sell your home. Of course you have spent the emphasis inside making your home a home, but never neglect the importance of the exterior of your home, it will make the difference of a drive by, slow down, roll of the eyes and drive away and a drive by stop and purchase. Remember, when you put your home up for sale it is NO LONGER YOUR HOME, but the most valuable product you own and you want to get the highest possible price for it and try to reach the holy grail of mulitple offers.
You want to start the visual experience the moment your potential buyers pull up to the front of your home and transport them from simply looking at “yet another house” on their laundry lists of possibles, to making them feel as if they have just found their ideal home…their future home. You want to continue that mental journey from the very front of the property, up the front walk and drive, up the front steps, through the home and continued right through to the back. Here I will give you a few essential tips to consider starting this experience from when they turn onto your road. Anything/everything from a landscaped or nicely manicured lawn or garden to simply cleaning/clearing pathways, walkways, porches and decks. Also consider creating structural elements in your garden which will transform it from ordinary to extraordinary.
• Depending on the time of year you have chosen to put your home up for sale, be sure to have a manicured, cut and weeded lawn – Go ahead commission your neighbourhood teenage boy to come over one afternoon on a weekend and have him weed the lawn. I am talking hands and knees work, a thorough job, perhaps one perfect for the mother in-law who has always despised you? Next cut your lawn to a nice short and even height (this includes the front and back lawns & boulevards and your neighbour on either side if they are away on vacation). You’d be amazed at what a difference a nice short and even lawn will make to the appearance of your home. Also, if you have dogs, make sure to clean up all of their ‘Pakipsey’ from the front and back areas. Last thing you want is a potential buyer stepping in Fido’s welcome present and ruining a pair of Jimmy Choos. After you’ve cut the grass so it resembles an English croquet field, don’t forget to edge everything and turn the soil in any gardens. The look we are going for here is effortless perfection, as if the yard always has that “the gardener just left” look. It’s inspirational, aspirational and most of all conveys a sense that you have been a good and careful custodian of your home and there are no issues or problems that have been neglected.
• Never underestimate a clean and evenly paved or gravelled driveway/walkway – If your driveway needs to be repaved this is where you’ll want to spend the money. A potential buyer will see this as one less thing to be added to the to-do list. A slick shiny and even driveway always looks good. Also don’t forget to consider topping up the gravel on your walkways/paths as well as replacing any cracked/broken pathway stones. I love the look, sound and feeling of English Pea Gravel walkways…they have that timeless Howard’s End sensibility we all covet and they are simple to install (really a great weekend project).
• A fresh coat of paint – If the outside of your house is peeling and cracking, or some ridiculous colour like pepto-pink or Asylum green, then it is time for a good and thorough paint job. Choose an elegant yet punchy regional colour, one that compliments the houses to either side of yours and then add a little drama to your front door with a richer more complicated colour. You don’t necessarily want to blend with the rest of the neighbourhood homes, as you would want to stand out as a classic, immaculate and inviting home. Also, don’t forget about re-sealing or staining your decks/patios front and back. I love to opt for a classic and elegant palette for the exterior of my homes and then add some drama and memorability with a punchy colour on the front door like a deep red, hot pink, vintage deep yellow or gold or a stunning turquoise blue.
• Landscaping – This is something that can be done by you and your family if your budget is tight or if you have a green thumb. First take some photos of your property and its lawn and flower beds. Make note of when you get sun and for how long each day. Next make note of any plants/trees in the area of your backyard. Take this to your local nursery / garden centre where their experts will be more than happy to walk around with you and make suggestions of what will work where and what is going to give you the most visual bang for your money. Always a great choice for sprucing up the garden are perennials / shrubs / flowering trees (as many as possible) as they add a sense of elegance and sophistication as well as a beautiful all season pop of colour. In addition, a more “serious” garden using them carries more value to your home and your potential buyers. While they are a bit more expensive then some garish tubs of annuals hurled about, they add value to your home and property and give your garden a feeling of timelessness and Design. However, DO pick up some flowering annuals as well, these little showstoppers will give you that instant burst of colour and volume for those few months they are in season, just make sure to use them in controlled and well thought placements such as oversized cast iron urns, garden features, a series of garden pots or in colour complementary locations in your garden to offset your perennial plantings. To get this job done efficiently before you go to sell, set up a planting weekend for you and your family, even invite some friends over for a BBQ in exchange for their help. Just make sure to have a detailed plan and sketch of where everything is going and make sure to plant everything according to its care card each plant comes with, we want to ensure these lovelies make it through the entire sale period and beyond.
• Add the best quality and largest Planters your budget will allow – My favourite piece of advice for exterior staging is purchasing a pair of spectacular urns or tall planters to flank either side of your front door or front porch steps. These big bold beauties are not only a sign of sohpication, but a welcome offering from the gods! This great investment is something you will take with you to your new home. Here is where you can let your personal creativity shine, by filling them with what you want. I always like to say with planters ‘the BIGGER the better’. More colour! More variety! More more more. If however time and budget are an issue, an easy and quick fix/solution would be to go to your local garden centre/nursery and pick up a few mixed variety hanging baskets that match each other as close as possible. Simply cut off the basket hooks and drop them directly into the planters or urns and there you go!
• Backyard patio/deck – This is also an important area not to be forgotten. Potential buyers will envision themselves in your home. They will picture their family in the backyard and entertainng friends in your space. You need to help them imagine that outdoor space for entertaining with a BBQ and a goreous patio furnishings, sunbrella and accessories, maybe a fire pit to add some punch. Add some sparkle with some outdoor lanterns or candles and candle holders. A personal favourite of mine are oversized outdoor glass hurricanes. Pick up some tall clear glass vases (your local dollar store is a great place to look. Since they’ll be outside you don’t want anything too expensive since it may break or you can always use my trick of canning jars filled with sand and candles by the score) fill them up about a third of the way gravel, sand, rocks etc…then place a pillar candle inside that comes up about two thirds to the top (you don’t want it too close to the top where it will always get blown out). When they are coming, light them. Add more colour with chair seat cushions, table cloths and place settings etc…and with some flowering
annuals. You want the space to look and feel warm and inviting. Think Al Fresco dining, sophistication, romance and intimacy. Thanks to the wonders of technology you can take a few photos and with the help of Photoshop, you can really play around and experiment with the possibilities before you even pick up a paint brush or credit card. Take a few shots of the front and back of your home and try changing the colours online to a look that’s right for you, you can even copy and paste various accessories to complete the look you have imagined. My final and last piece of advice is beware of staging. With all of these new changes, I warn you, its very easy to fall back in love with your home. Instead of new buyers you will be sneaking out when no one is looking and taking down that for sale sign.
Happy staging and good luck.