Curb appeal crucial when selling a home

If you can’t coax viewers out of car, they’re not going to buy your house

October 9, 2005

By Lin Connery

WHEN selling a home in summer, outdoor space — front and back — can be almost as important as what’s inside. First impressions are crucial: After all, if you can’t coax viewers out of the car, they’re not going to buy your house.

When preparing your home for sale, stroll to the curb and take a good, long look from the vantage point of a prospective buyer. Take note of little chores and minor repairs that are needed.

Potential buyers are picky — they may have a messy lawn at home, but they’ll turn up their nose at your dandelions. If your house looks like a winner, it will get more and better offers.

Next, do your own drive-by — discover what prospective buyers see when they cruise past. Will your house make their short list of homes to see?

You don’t have to redo the whole front yard, but you should make the most of what you have. Do all the obvious tidying — sweep the front walk, edge the lawn and put away clutter such as toys and tools.

Update your house numbers, your mailbox, the front-door hardware — “all easy fixes.”

A collection of miscellaneous little pots of assorted flowers will never equal the impact and instant appeal of one spectacular piece overflowing with magnificent blooms.

Changing all or some of the exterior paint colours — the entire colour scheme or possibly just freshening the front door — can instantly boost a home’s appeal.

Look at the back lane, too

A brief consultation with a designer can more than pay for itself when the home sells quickly and for more money.

If you have a back lane, that’s another aspect of curb appeal that shouldn’t be ignored. Prospective buyers who are really interested are almost certain to walk or drive along a back lane to check the rear view. Fix and tidy as required.

If your backyard landscape features only a few lonely little shrubs and a bare patch of lawn, consider adding an instant garden through “potscaping.”

Instead of digging flower beds, plant lavish displays of blooms or ornamental grasses in co-ordinated pots and arrange them in attractive groupings, says Karyn Elliott, of Albertine Design and Crazy House Home Staging.

Because everything in the garden is in a moveable pot, all plantings can be rearranged according to what’s in bloom on the day of a showing.

A variety of pot sizes can also give a nice multilevel look to the oasis just outside the back door. Also, consider sight lines from inside the home — create a view that will lure prospective buyers out into the garden.

If there’s already a conventional garden in place but the plants are less than impressive, fill in gaps with potted beauties.

Potscaping can be particularly effective when space is tight, says Elliott. Even the tiniest balcony or patio can become an attractive garden space and a real selling point.

Homeowners selling in spring, summer and fall have another advantage that shouldn’t be overlooked — patios, decks and balconies can be presented as valuable extra living space.

Arrange outdoor furniture into inviting outdoor “room” groupings that present extra space for dining, entertaining and lounging.

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