Fixing Up Outside the House
Most real estate advice tells you to work on the interior of the house first,
but unless there is a major project involved, we believe it is best to do it
There are two reasons for this: First, the exterior is more important at first.
A homebuyer’s first impression of a home is based on his or her reaction
to the house from the real estate agent’s car. The second reason is because
preparing the interior of the house is easier. Looking objectively at the exterior
of your house can help you develop the proper mindset required for selling,
which is beginning to think of your home as a marketable commodity.
So take a walk across the street and take a good look at your house. Look at
nearby houses, too, and see how yours compares.
Is your landscaping at least average for the neighborhood? If it is not, buy
a few bushes and plant them. Do not put in trees. Mature trees are expensive,
and you will not get back your investment. Also, immature trees do not really
add much to the appearance value of the home.
If you have an area for flowers, buy mature colorful flowers and plant them.
They add a splash of vibrancy and color, creating a favorable first impression.
Do not buy bulbs or seeds and plant them. They will not mature fast enough to
create the desired effect and you certainly don’t want a patch of brown
earth for homebuyers to view.
Your lawn should be evenly cut, freshly edged, well watered, and free of brown
spots. If there are problems with your lawn, you should probably take care of
them before working on the inside of your home. This is because certain areas
may need re-soding, and you want to give it a chance to grow so that re-sod
areas are not immediately apparent. Plus, you might want to give fertilizer
enough time to be effective.
Always rake up loose leaves and grass cuttings.
The big decision is whether to paint or not to paint. When you look at your
house from across the street, does it look tired and faded? If so, a paint job
may be in order. It is often a very good investment and really spruces up the
appearance of a house, adding dollars to offers from potential homebuyers.
When choosing a color, it should not be something garish and unusual, but a
color that fits well in your neighborhood. Of course, the color also depends
on the style of your house, too. For some reason, different shades of yellow
seem to illicit the best response in homebuyers, whether it is in the trim or
the basic color of the house.
As for the roof, if you know your house has an old leaky roof, replace it.
If you do not replace a leaky roof, you are going to have to disclose it and
the buyer will want a new roof, anyway. Otherwise, wait and see what the home
inspector says. Why spend money unnecessarily?
The Back Yard
The back yard should be tidy. If you have a pool or spa, keep it freshly maintained
and constantly cleaned. For those that have dogs, be sure to constantly keep
the area clear of "debris." If you have swing sets or anything elaborate
for your kids, it probably makes more sense to remove them than to leave them
in place. They take up room, and you want your back yard to appear as spacious
as possible, especially in newer homes where the yards are not as large.
The Front Door & Entryway
The front door should be especially sharp, since it is the entryway into the
house. Polish the door fixture so it gleams. If the door needs refinishing or
repainting, make sure to get that done.
If you have a cute little plaque or shingle with your family name on it, remove
it. Even if it is just on the mailbox. You can always put it up again once you
move. Get a new plush door mat, too. This is something else you can take with
you once you move.
Make sure the lock works easily and the key fits properly. When a homebuyer
comes to visit your home, the agent uses the key from the lock box to unlock
the door. If there is trouble working the lock while everyone else stands around
twiddling their thumbs, this sends a negative first impression to prospective