Since we were very young, most of us have been told not to judge a book by its cover. But the simple fact is, people do. Marketing psychologists claim that people take only about eight seconds to determine whether they are going to consider a home or not, based upon seeing it from the curb.
An appealing front view tells the buyers that the house is well maintained and things are in order, while an unattractive first look suggests otherwise. Like it or not, appearance is everything when it comes to buying and selling homes, and if you want your home to command attention there are some things you can do during spring cleaning that can greatly improve the value of your home.
Cleaning your home’s curb itself is a vital step that is often overlooked. Next you’ll want to sweep and then pressure wash your driveway to get rid of tire marks from cars and bicycles, and footsteps. Children’s chalk drawings have to go. Any mud, sand and dirt on the driveway should of course be removed. Grass growing at the side of the driveway, that is slowly creeping inward, should be trimmed. Edging your driveway insures there is a clear division between the end of the lawn and the pavement. Grass growing in cracks should be pulled. A few squirts of weed killer can keep them from coming back in the near future.
Pick up any litter that is around the home. Any unused items that are lying around the compound should also be removed from view.
The front door
The entry is the most important part when it comes to the visual impression of the house. It doesn’t matter how good the house is inside, the front door must be attractive and feel inviting.
Consider painting the front door in an attractive colour that provides contrast, while fitting the home’s palette. The best way to paint, stain or varnish your door is to take it down and remove all the hardware. Any peeling paint should be scraped free, and then the door should be sanded with fine grit paper and cleaned with a degreaser like T.S.P. A brush may be required to get into contoured areas. Make sure you use long smooth strokes, so there are no visible brush strokes when dry. For flat areas, a foam roller works well. Give the door ample drying time before rehanging.
If the door dates the home, or looks out of place on the street, consider replacing it.
While tending to the front door, take a look at the garage door(s). If you’re repainting the front door, or replacing it with a new one, you’ll want to be sure the garage door looks great too, and still matches.
A fresh coat of paint is usually one of the least expensive investments, and can be a simple do-it-yourself project, with visual improvements that can often make a home look dramatically more appealing in less than a day. But if done poorly, painting can leave a negative impression. Drips, sloppy edges and brush marks send a message that the rest of the home has been poorly cared for as well.
Good lighting makes the home appear lively and more secure. Dated fixtures send the message that the interior is also very out of date, and quite likely in need of a very expensive renovation. Investing in some modern, stylish fixtures can make a big difference, even during the daytime. Locate some matching lights for the driveway. If there are dark areas to the side of the home, consider adding some security lighting.
Planting flowers is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways of improving the perceived value of your home. Some common places to plant flowers are along the driveway, in beds around the house, in flower boxes and in large pots near the door.
Remember to inquire at the local nursery about flowers that grow well in your locality and consult on how best to grow them.
Mailbox and house number
Many people really don’t think about the appearance of the mailbox, as long as it’s serving its purpose. If you have a box at the road, this might be the time to replace that old leaning mailbox. Consider building a new mailbox stand that matches with the finish of your house. Also remember to carefully paint the mailbox itself, or replace it with a modern and attractive one. Remember, your mailbox makes a statement about the finishes of your home, and how you care for things.
If you have a mail slot, make sure the metal has been polished, or has a fresh coat of paint.
House numbers also say a lot about the state of your home. Rusty, crooked, falling or invisible numbers are an indicator that the entire home is in a state of neglect. It’s simple to buy new house number plates and fasten them where they are easy to read. Use a bubble level to set a reference line, pay attention to using equal spacing between letters, and where applicable, the centring of the letters. If your letters have been previously painted, and the mounting is good, removing them and applying a fresh coat of rust paint may be all that’s required.
Trees and bushes
It doesn’t matter how beautiful your home is if it’s hard to see. Carefully manicured greenery will complement the look of your home. Trees and bushes that obstruct the view of the house, or create dark shadowy areas that pose a security risk, should be trimmed.
Windows and exterior of the home
We’re all busy these days, and it’s easy to clean the interior of the house and forget about the outside. Consider pressure washing the exterior of your house to get rid of the deeply embedded dirt and anything that might have been clinging to the walls. Keep an eye open for anything that needs repairs or a bit of paint.
Windows that sparkle make a huge difference to the perceived value. You’ll notice that the jeweller always gives the ring a quick polish with a soft cloth before presenting it.
The house next door
Don’t let all your hard work be ruined by your neighbour who has garbage all over. Neighbours matter a lot, because this is the neighbourhood your prospective buyers are considering moving into. If your neighbour has garbage lying about, or an untrimmed lawn, you might pop over and explain that you’ve been bitten by the spring cleaning bug, and wonder if it might be okay to give their lawn a quick trim while you’re doing yours. It’s so much simpler than quarrelling with them, and will go a long way in improving the curb appeal of your home.