It's All About Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is a frequently repeated mantra, for good reason. Potential buyers may be excited about a home based on the photos online, but if their first look results in the impression of a poorly maintained property, many will drive right on by. Here's how to create the best first impression for your potential buyers - and get the best price for your listing.

1. Start with the front landscaping. 

First, make sure that all looks well-maintained:

  • Trim and shape bushes and shrubs (no sculpting required!)
  • Remove any dead or low-hanging branches from trees
  • Fill any obvious holes in the landscaping
  • Trim any shrub or tree branches that touch the home or block light


Ensure all flower beds and the bases of trees and shrubs have been properly edged.

Always add a fresh layer of dark, shredded mulch. This serves two purposes: the dark color creates a pleasing contrast for pictures, and the smell of mulch reminds people of spring - a time of blossoming and growth - and will make them feel better and more positively about the property. 

2. Next, stage the entrance.

Keep the porch or stoop open and uncluttered. If it's a small area, keep it clear. If it's large enough for a pot with plants or flowers, put the pot on the hinge side of the door, away from the door opening. In fall or winter, fill the pot with ornamental cabbage or better yet, pansies. These may not last long, but the impression they make will be worth every penny.

A relatively large porch is an architectural feature. Show potential buyers what they can do with the space by staging with a chair and table or even a porch swing.

3. Repair as needed and clean, clean, clean.

Everyone needs a minute to pull out the key and open the door. During this time, your curious prospective buyer is looking everywhere for a clue about how they'll feel about the home. They'll look left and right, up and down. 

Repair any damage and paint as needed. This includes:

  • Cleaning and repairing gutters
  • Stripping and painting peeling shutters
  • Recaulking windows
  • Replacing and touching up damaged wood
  • Leveling the walkway and replacing damaged or broken pavers
  • Touching up or repointing stonework


Wash the windows, shutters, screen door, and front door. If needed, repaint the front door and polish the hardware. If feasible, remove the window screens from the lower level of windows (carefully label and store in the basement or garage) to let in more light. If weather permits, pressure wash any dirty or stained concrete. Add a new welcome mat. 

Ensure all is absolutely spotless. Clean all outdoor light fixtures. Your potential buyers will notice any spots, dirt, or cobwebs. Don't forget to look up - not something you'd normally do - as your buyers definitely will. For the best first impression, do a quick but thorough cleaning to remove dust, debris, and cobwebs before every showing.

The investment in curb appeal will pay off in spades. But, focus on the front. I'm often asked about the back yard. The truth is that by the time prospective buyers have reached the back, their minds are made up. 

Have a listing coming up, or a home on the market that hasn't sold? Please reach out to me to talk about what we can do for a faster sale and a higher sales price. For more tips on staging, see one of my favorite recent articles: How To Stage A Home That Won't Sell.