Don’t underestimate the curb appeal factor

W■ Matt McPherson / Columnist
ith more than 95 percent of real estate sales coming from such online advertising avenues as the Multiple Listing Service, Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com, curbside photos of a well-maintained yard are a necessity when marketing your property. Curb appeal, in the current market, translates to web appeal. Photos of your listing on websites such as Zillow and Trulia are a huge factor in whether buyers decide to view your listed property offline.
When staging the curb appeal for your listed property, first take a picture of the home and ask yourself what features best accentuate its beauty and desirability.
What visuals contribute to the photogenic qualities that will catch the eye of online buyers? Well-manicured shrubs, lawn and trees draw more attention to the actual structure and give the home more prominence in the photos. Don’t let your property become dwarfed by overgrown trees and bushes. A simple trimming of the foliage can make your home appear larger.
Here are a few tips that can help you improve the curb appeal of your home and possibly increase the amount of offers you receive throughout the current booming market here in the valley.
1. Straighten, paint, and clean the rain gutters. A crooked, faded or clogged rain gutter catches the eye of potential buyers – in a negative way – which may deter them from viewing your home. A well-maintained and new looking gutter transmits a sense of efficiency and contributes to the overall impression of the roof and drainage.
2. Relocate the trash bins from the front of the property to the rear and place them out of view. Always trim the tree to the left of the driveway and rake or blow the leaves from the driveway and in the yard. If you’re willing to spend around $5,000, resurface an asphalt driveway with paving stones, or stamped or tinted concrete.
3. Replace the porch lighting with a much brighter and larger light. Black fixtures denote elegance. If you’re willing to invest a little more, add a second lantern light to the other side of the door to create a sense of symmetry.
4. Plant bushes under the front windows, but make sure to keep their height well below the bottom ledge. To enhance the view and give a more finished look, add a ground cover such as red cedar bark around the base of the bushes. Have a little more cash to invest? Accent the walkway with boxwood-style hedges less than 2 feet high and at least a foot wide. Plant them on each side of the front walkway and run them all the way to the sidewalk.
5. Replace and move the house numbers to the left side of the door to add a dramatic flair. Larger and darker numbers accent the address and catch the eye of viewers online. If your home exterior is dark, use white or metallic numbers. Larger numbers psychologically keep the address in the potential buyer’s mind, keeping your property in their thoughts.
6. Add black window boxes to the front windows. Fill the boxes with flowing green plants such as ivy, and accent the foliage with bright flowers. The boxes should extend the full length of the windows, but not reach under the shutters.
7. Drastically trim back large bushes on the sides of the home to ensure they’re not covering the front windows. Try to keep the bushes from growing higher than the first roof.
8. Use accent paint – for example, paint the railing white and the steps a dark green. Also remove any storm or screen doors, and install a brass kick plate along the bottom of the front door, which gives the entry a more elegant look. To enhance the color, place a large clay pot, planted with seasonal greenery and flowers, on each side of the front door.
9. Pave over the steps and front porch with bricks, or consider a brick veneer to match the house. Another great addition is to build an inverted-V roof over the front porch with rounded colonial-style pillars. Paint the trim to match the window trim. Make sure you match the shingles.
10. Cut down the barren tree in the front yard and replace it with grass. Make sure to fertilize the entire front yard to make the grass greener, and edge the lawn on all sides.
These tips can make a huge difference in whether sellers receive a full price offer and how many clicks obtained while marketing the property online. Now that the selling and buying season is upon us, make sure to choose a local realtor who is experienced and knowledgeable in your demographic.

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