You've done a stunning job rehabbing the interior of your property. But the exterior looks like it could be used in a remake of The Money Pit. Do those cute little Realtor signs that say “Must See Inside” really work? – Don't count on it.
If the outside of your property causes people to speed up rather than slow down, there are some quick and easy fixes you can do that will make people stop and get out of their cars. It should go without saying that the lawn needs to be mowed and edged, so I won't tell you that. I do recommend these, however:
1. Freshen the paint. Sometimes you have to do a full exterior paint job. Other times you can get away with just changing the color or freshening the paint on the trim. Right now there is a property for sale in my neighborhood with a horrible orange trim color. It has been on the market for over a year. Changing the trim color, which would take – oh about half a day and $100 – would change the entire look of the house. Instead – it sits. The same can hold true for changing the paint color on a front door.
2. Add flowers. Two planters overflowing with flowers from the nearby garden center on either side of the door or the walkway up to the front door can make a property appealing. Some houses are perfect for window boxes. You don't have to do extensive landscaping. A few accent flowers or a freeform area. that is landscaped with flowers; a few shrubs and plenty of mulch can change the entire look of a yard. And don't forget mulch (lots of mulch) is your friend.
3. Add the proverbial picket fence. 4 x 8 foot sections of low picket fencing run about $55 per section at home centers, so this is a more expensive option. But a picket fence has an emotional pang to it that resonates with home buyers. Because it physically defines a property line, it has a way of announcing “This is my house”. A man's home is his castle. The picket fence represents the wall or even the moat that has to be crossed in order to enter. A little too much psychology? Maybe. But it sure adds curb appeal.
4. Don't make the world beat a path to the door. Make sure the walkway to the front door is even and well-defined. A curved walkway is friendlier than a straight line. If the walkway isn't solid, for instance, you use stepping stones or bricks, make sure that the area people step on will accommodate an adult human's foot. No one wants to play hopscotch up to a front door, especially on a rainy, muddy day. In addition, homeowners worry about liability an uneven walk can result in a trip and fall lawsuit. You are better off pouring a concrete pathway or laying out a solid brick or paver walk.
5. Keep the area clean. Sweep the walkway, stairs, and porch. Police the front for litter. Don't leave trash barrels or recycling bins out any longer than need be. Clean up the dog poop. I know. The owner is supposed to do it but many don't. Hose it away or pick it up in the plastic bag and deposit it on the dog owner's stoop. (I would never do that!) The point is – if selling or renting the house is important to you, then it's worth doing a few things you don't like to do. (Though you might get a certain satisfaction from depositing the poop back on its original owner.)
Rehab Before/After Curb Appeal
>>>>>> Bonus Round: Sometimes, you can improve the looks of a property simply by removing things. I have increased the value of properties by taking down fences that were already on their way down, removing rusting sheds, and hauling lawn ornaments that SOMEONE thought were art off to the dump. Old fashioned metal awnings look tacky and date a property; they are best removed. Burn barrels – yes, they still exist – need to go. Swing-sets and tree houses and tire planters all go. I post swing-sets that are in good shape on Craigslist in the free section. The deal is if they want it, they have to take it down and remove it. That's a win/win. I haven't been as lucky with the yard ornaments.
It's easy to give a property curb appeal. This is one area where elbow grease pays off. Remember, you'll never get someone to look at the inside of your property if the outside is a turnoff. Curb appeal is an easy fix.