Are you preparing to list your home for sale? You and everyone else. There must be a way to add some extra oomph to your property and differentiate it from the competition, right?
Actually, there are many.
“Preparing to list a home feels like a daunting process, and to some extent it is,” says mortgage executive Peter Norden. “However, without minimizing all the considerations that go into a successful listing, you can take some straightforward steps to improve your home’s appeal to prospective buyers without paying huge sums out of pocket.”
Some of the steps that experts suggest require no interior alterations at all. The law of first impressions dictates that a home with above-average curb appeal is likely to attract and hold buyers’ attention better than a “hidden gem”—a property that looks dowdy and doubtful on the outside, and only shines once buyers begin the walk-through.
Before you list your home for sale, review this roundup of cost-effective exterior projects to determine what, if anything, you need to do to get your property in tip-top shape—and, hopefully, close the sale faster, on seller-friendly terms.
- A Bright, Inviting Lawn
Has your lawn seen better days? Green it up with a fresh application of fertilizer. If the situation is truly dire and you’re willing to wait a month or two to see results, call in a landscaping pro to tear up and reseed. Even if you don’t regularly water your lawn, it’s a good idea to get in the habit (local ordinances permitting) until your property sells. Brown lawns just don’t cut it for some buyers.
- Freshly Trimmed Trees and Shrubbery
Overgrown trees and shrubbery signify apathy at best and neglect at worst. If your property’s trees and shrubs are thin or low, you can probably trim them into shape yourself. Otherwise, hire a landscaping team. They don’t have to look perfect—they just have to look like you’ve actually paid attention to them all these years.
- New Walkway Pavers
Put prospective buyers on firm ground with a new walkway in the style of your choice. This is a project that you can easily do on your own, assuming you have the time during the hectic run-up to listing day. If you’re not comfortable using heavy equipment to break up an existing walkway, call in a contractor. Alternatively, use tools you already own (or rent some from a hardware store or tool lending library) to create a simple stepping-stone walkway with no mechanical excavation required.
- A New (or Newly Repaired) Driveway
Nothing says “curb appeal” like literally replacing your property’s curbs.
If your driveway has seen better days, fix it up before listing your property for sale. If your budget allows, it may be better to tear the whole thing up and start from scratch, as even well-patched potholes tend to attract unwanted attention.
Not willing to invest thousands in a freshly paved asphalt or stone driveway? Opt for a cheaper solution that, a few gravel deliveries aside, you can do on your own: a new gravel driveway. Just make sure gravel or loose stone fits your neighborhood’s aesthetic; in posh areas, a gravel driveway might not cut it.
- A Fresh Coat of Paint
Five words: power wash and fresh paint. After thoroughly washing and drying the shabby area, recruit a few friends or extended family members to help you spruce up your home’s exterior with a new coat of paint. While you’re at it, add new accents or door paint as well—anything to draw prospective buyers’ eyes.
- Native or Climate-Appropriate Plants and Landscaping
If you live in a dry or unpredictable climate, use your pre-listing push as an opportunity to create the landscape you’ve always wanted. Native, climate-appropriate plants dramatically reduce water usage and maintenance requirements—a big boon for fiscally responsible and environmentally conscious buyers alike. Consult with a landscape architect to create a rough layout and a list of suitable plants and design elements.
- A New Patio or Fire Pit
If you’re already rethinking your property’s landscaping, why not go one step further and add a new patio or fire pit to the backyard? These design elements look great in natural settings, and they’re increasingly in vogue with younger, active homebuyers. Adding pavers and seating to the backyard is a great way to invite prospective buyers to see themselves in (or outside) your home.
- A Quiet Garage Door
Everyone who tours your home is going to make their way into your garage at some point. Make it a pleasant experience by replacing your automatic garage door prior to listing. Old garage doors can make a racket, even after oiling, and the noise tends to be worse when the weather is cold or wet. By contrast, new garage doors open like a dream, emitting a quiet hum that barely rises above a whisper.
- An Appealing Fence or Wall
A chain-link fence is certainly practical and cheap, but you can do better. Walk around your neighborhood to get high-end fencing or wall ideas, keeping in mind that you won’t want to deviate too far from what your neighbors have. It’s hard to go wrong with a tasteful, neutral-color wooden fence or a low stone wall. If you have a driveway or walkway that comes right up to the edge of your lot, consider a stone or wooden gate set slightly back from the street.
- Subtle Grading
If your property has any slope at all, use it to your advantage with a subtle grading scheme that gently steps up or down from the street to the main house—for instance, a low series of terraces separated by simple stone retaining walls and interspersed with garden plots or natural landscaping. This isn’t a cheap job, and unless you’re very skilled and diligent, you’ll probably need professional help. But it can dramatically improve your home’s curb appeal and lead prospective buyers to make the right call.
What are you doing to improve your lot’s curb appeal and sell your home faster?