Last updated: Mon. Jun. 11, 2012 - 10:57 am EDT
To all the future home sellers out there, a little constructive criticism: As much as you love the homemade “beer-themed” mailbox your son made for you during college, all a potential buyer sees is an old Bud Light case duct-taped next to the front door with a bunch of mail sticking out of it.
Buyers are looking for flaws, and if they see them outside, chances are good they won’t even set foot inside, says Gina Zimmerman, a Realtor with North Eastern Group Realty.
“Buyers determine their opinion of a house in the first 15 seconds,” Zimmerman says. “And the clock starts ticking at the curb.”
Before people buy their homes, they want to be able to picture themselves living there, says Adam Atherton, a Realtor with Imagine Real Estate. Often, sellers have to make a few changes in order to increase a home’s curb appeal.
“In those first seconds, a client will judge the home based on the outward appearance and decide whether they can see their family growing up there,” he says.
“(Your real estate agent) can suggest some changes that will get the home sold faster and for a higher price.”
Here’s where to start:
Make an entrance
Begin with the front door, Zimmerman says. Replace your old mat with a new one. Make sure the key fits the lock and the door is easy to open. And, if your front door distracts from the house as a whole, replace or paint it.
“It’s a small can of paint,” Zimmerman says, “but it makes a huge impact.”
Don’t get rusty
If your hardware – porch lights, mailbox, house numbers – are tarnished, out of style or broken – replace them.
Have a seat
“Outside seating areas inspire a feeling of leisure,” Zimmerman says. “Try a bench or a couple of chairs. A porch swing is a nice idea too.”
A shabby yard is a definite no-no, Zimmerman says. Make sure your lawn is edged, the weeds have been pulled, the shrubs are low enough to see the house and the grass is green.
Add some color
During the summer, Zimmerman suggests using flowers to add a pop of color to the front of the house. When the weather gets chilly, a few brightly colored cushions on your porch furniture will do the trick.
“Color just makes everything look pretty,” she says. “Prospective buyers like to nickname the houses they’ve looked at. It’s much better to be ‘The House With the Flowers’ than ‘The House With the Overgrown Bushes.’ ”