Home sellers who work just as hard to make the outside of their sale properties look fabulous as they do on the interior recognize the value of “curb appeal.” What is curb appeal, and why is it so important to selling a house?

Curb appeal is how attractive a house looks from the street, and it can be the difference between selling your house and having your house linger for months on the market. A house with curb appeal looks great online as well as in person. People want to buy homes that look beautiful because how a house looks on the outside reflects how nice it is on the inside, and most of us take pride in the things we own and want others to admire them, too.

Curb appeal will also determine whether or not sellers can even get potential buyers in the door. This is especially important today when 95 percent of all home buyers look at online photos of a property to decide if they’ll even visit. No one wants to visit a listing with overgrown shrubs, patchy grass, moldy siding or stucco, and cracked sidewalks and driveways. No matter how much effort an MLS photographer puts into digitally “correcting” the flaws on the outside of the house, they’ll still be there when folks drive up—and away! You can’t sell what buyers don’t see, so you’ll want to remove any visual obstacles buyers might have to looking at your house…and making a fair offer for it.

What do you need to do to create great curb appeal and get top dollar for your property? Here is a checklist for you:

  • Make sure the house itself shows no signs of wear and tear. That means the house and trim need to be free of peeling paint, mold and algae, torn window screens, missing siding, visible cracks, damaged or missing roof tiles, and stained or damaged bricks/mortar. Clean out the gutters and downspouts.
  • Reseal driveways to fix any cracks and replace cracked concrete sidewalk slabs. Power wash stained and dingy concrete.
  • Put a fresh coat of paint on the front door (and possibly the shutters, if they’re faded) and polish or replace tarnished or broken door hardware.
  • Invest in new, updated outdoor lights that look up to date and provide adequate lighting along walkways and on porches and the driveway.
  • Keep sidewalks, driveways, and outdoor patios weed-free.
  • Remove any dead or dying shrubs and plants. If you don’t want to remove dead trees, be prepared to accept a lower price or offer a credit at closing, as tree removal can cost up to a few thousand dollars.
  • Remove any indoor furniture from the exterior of the home. An upholstered sofa may be comfy on your covered porch, but it’s an eyesore to buyers.
  • Take care of your lawn: mow and weed the grass and seed and water bare patches.
  • Weed, edge, and mulch garden beds and plant some fresh flowers. This is especially important in spring and summer.
  • Trim back shrubs and hedges that cover windows and block views from the inside. Also, trim back any plantings that get in the way of exterior vents coming from your kitchen stove or clothes dryer.
  • Attractive planters with healthy, blooming plants on the front porch are “eye candy” to home buyers.
  • Update or replace an old mailbox.
  • Make sure your house number is clearly visible from the street, whether it’s on the mailbox or on the house itself.
  • Remove all statues, decorative flags, figurines, etc. from your house, lawn or gardens. They distract buyers.
  • Remove window screens from the front windows and clean the inside and outside of all of your windows. Open curtains and sheers that cover windows that face the street.
  • Take care of all of these issues BEFORE your Realtor schedules the MLS photography!

Aside from the “biggies” like tree removal and concrete work, you can do most of these home improvements yourself, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many more house visits you’ll get from buyers…and how much they’ll be willing to pay for your newly improved house. Happy selling!