Driveways and Walkways
Don’t let your driveway be the first thing they notice — it should be clean, clear of debris, holes, and cracks. Don’t ever let potential buyers wonder if the house is well maintained. If your drive is gravel, have a contractor bring in a load or two and rake the stones over the holes and cracks. Concrete? Fill the gaps, cracks, and crevices and even consider a concrete stain or sealant.
Remember to pay attention to the walkway to the house as well, replace or re-position pavers and stones if needed. Could the walkway benefit from some color to brighten it, perhaps some pansies along the edge? You don’t have to invest a lot, even placing some flowerpots or shrubs along the walk or the edge of the deck, or add hanging plants to create a warm and inviting message. Without a huge investment these additions will go a long way to show that your house has been cared for.
Landscape and Exterior Spaces
Evaluate the landscape around the house. Are there any obvious unattractive areas? Rake leaves! Edge the sides of beds. Maybe put in some dark mulch and some hardy early plants. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on plants, just be sure everything looks tidy. Check your yard every day for wayward trash that may have blown over or broken branches that may have come down. Trim trees and bushes, remove anything that is less than lively and replace with new plantings or container gardens. Make a strong impression that the house is also a home, ready for a new life with your seller!
Look at the front of the house from the road or driveway – does it pop? Consider painting the front door, railings, even shutters for a fresh look that welcomes. Brighten the immediate entry with a colorful, new welcome mat. Need more budget-friendly ideas?
Never assume a prospective buyer will only see the house during daylight. Install solar lighting along your drive, replace burned out bulbs at your entryway or garage. Consider keeping the lamps on in several rooms between 5 and 9pm. Go outside and see what your house looks like. It is not very energy-efficient but the warmth of night lighting sends the buyer the message “welcome home!” Get your broker to take a professional photo of your house at night if it looks particularly nice and add it to your listing.
Other tasks to consider doing or paying someone else to do:
- Pressure wash the house to rid it of algae, spider webs, and general dirt
- Wash the windows (In the spring of 2011 I spent just $175 to have 20 large, old, multi-paned windows professionally cleaned inside and out when I sold my house. I couldn’t believe the difference it made! You get used to dirty windows and don’t even remember what clean windows look like! Hire someone for this; it is so worth it.)
- Clean the gutters (there is nothing worse than for a prospective buyer to catch a glimpse of the little maple tree sprouting in your gutter!)
- Some people swear that if you bury a statue of St. Joseph upside down near the for-sale sign you will sell your house. (I did it and sold my house in less than a month, to the 4th person to look at it, in an area where nothing was selling! Not scientific evidence, but there it is.) Google it; you can buy one for a few bucks.