BY LISA LEE
Despite the saying about not judging a book by its cover, when it comes to selling real estate, it’s often love at first sight … or not.
First impressions do count. Typically, a homebuyer makes up their mind within 30 seconds of walking into an open house or listing. In fact, if your home doesn’t have “curb appeal,” prospective buyers may never even get out of their cars to step inside your home. Real estate agents call this “the dreaded drive-by.”
Creating curb appeal is about making sure the exterior of your home pulls buyers out of their cars and warms them up with good feelings before they step through the front door. You want to create a picture where buyers can imagine themselves living happily.
“Since people decide whether or not they like a home within 30 seconds, the most important place to impress them is right at the front door. Once you go in with a good feeling, it just gets better and better. So it’s critical to make your curb appeal as nice as it can be,” says Donna L. Yamagishi, REALTOR and Fine Homes Premier Specialist. “Also, with most buyers looking online, colorful flowers and green lawns always look best and inviting in photos.”
Yamagishi studied interior design and space planning at UCLA before her career as a real estate agent, and she teaches classes on home staging to new agents at Prudential Locations. She has practical advice for both agents and home sellers.
SIMPLE THINGS YOU CAN DO
The first and hardest thing to do as a seller is to evaluate the “curb appeal” of your home through new eyes, as a stranger would. An expert REALTOR can help you do this.
The next step is to strategize the curb appeal improvements that will make the biggest difference. Even if you’re on a limited budget, there are still things you can do that will make a positive impact:
Inspect the roof to make sure it is in good condition. If buyers notice damaged or missing shingles or poorly maintained gutters, they get the impression that the house isn’t well-maintained.
Make sure the entry way and the front door are inviting. A pot of blooming flowers at your entry can enhance the welcoming feel. Remove anything that might be distracting or uninviting, especially personal things like shoes and slippers. When buyers see too much of “you”, it is harder to picture
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themselves in the home.
If you decide to repaint your home, the choice of color is important. Stay away from loud or garish colors; neutral colors have broader appeal. Sometimes just re-painting the front door and trim can be enough for a “face-lift.”
Give your yard a grooming.
Pull weeds, trim hedges, edge and mow the lawn, and generally “tidy up.” If you have empty flowerbeds, brighten them up with colorful plants.
De-personalize your carport. Get rid of boxes, bicycles, old appliances, gardening and lumber supplies, and the like. Remove your trash bins. The more clutter-free space you can create, the better.
LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS
For a quick lesson on creating curb appeal, Yamagishi recommends visiting some model homes on the island. “New home builders dress up their model homes because they know how important it is to make a good first impression. They use landscape and interior designers to make model homes appear more inviting. You can get great ideas from professionals.”
“I also recommend clients check out the website Houzz.com for ideas on exterior and interior design,” she says. “You can make folders for yourself on the site in which you can save photos that you like for ideas.”
If you’re getting ready to sell, don’t overlook curb appeal in your planning. Prudential Locations has REALTORS who specialize in presenting and staging homes. To learn more, call 808-377-4646.