Counting on curb appeal

Magnifying glass

Many Canadian homeowners are looking to take advantage of historically low mortgage rates and upgrade to a new property. However, in order to do so, most will need to first sell their current home. While a number of factors can affect how quickly a home will sell, it's important for homeowners to understand the importance of curb appeal.

What is curb appeal?
Put simply, curb appeal is how attractive a home looks from the sidewalk. When a potential homebuyer first sees a property, it's the curb appeal that will give them their first impression. Curb appeal includes everything from a home's paint job to its front lawn. Obviously, factors such as price, square footage and condition will play a large role in whether a buyer is interested, but curb appeal is a home seller's first and best chance to grab a buyer's attention.

Fortunately for home sellers, there are a number of ways to improve a property's curb appeal.

Evaluate
The first step for home sellers should be to put themselves in the shoes of prospective homebuyers. Individuals should stand outside their home and take in the view, accounting for any problem areas. Does the property make a good first impression? What does it look like from different angles? What areas need the most work? Once a home seller answers these questions, he or she can begin focusing on fixing any problems. It's also a good idea to take pictures of the property when formulating a plan, as these can serve as reminders of the areas that require the most attention.

Focus on the front
While it's important to make sure the entirety of a property is in good condition, home sellers should give special care and attention to the front of their home. This is the portion of a house buyers will see first, making it the most vital aspect of curb appeal.

Before sellers get started on the house itself, they should ensure their front yard is in good shape. This means having a healthy lawn and neat landscaping. Most homebuyers don't picture their dream home featuring dead grass and wild shrubbery.

Once the front yard is taken care of, home sellers should switch their focus to the actual house. Depending on the condition of the home's paint job, it may be wise to invest in a fresh coat. A new paint job can revitalize a home and make it that much more appealing to prospective buyers. Additionally, any windows, porches and lighting fixtures that are visible from the street should be in good condition. If it needs to be cleaned, clean it. If it needs to be repaired or replaced, do it. Sellers should remember that while sinking tons of money into a home they plan to sell isn't a smart business move, spending a reasonable amount is an investment that can pay off once a property is sold.

Take care of the rest
While the front of the house is the most important part of curb appeal, sellers should understand that the rest of the property needs to be in good condition as well. No buyer wants to feel tricked by an immaculate facade that's only masking a dirty and disheveled inside. In addition, if a front yard is appealing to the eye, no buyer wants to contrast it with an overgrown backyard. After all, curb appeal is what gets a buyer interested, but the house as a whole must be in good condition to close a deal.

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