How to Improve Curb Appeal

 By: Lauren Spencer
When it comes time to sell a home, buyers sometimes get complacent and make the mistake of incorrectly assuming the matter is out of their hands entirely. Selling a house is not simply a matter of calling a real estate professional and handing the job off to them. There are many steps you can take to improve the curb appeal and encumber the unique and compelling character of your home. By being a proactive homeowner you can help to ensure you get the best possible ROI (return on investment) for your home.

Much of what you can do are quick fixes that do not take a great deal of time or energy; other projects require a little more elbow grease and, in some cases, even a nominal but worthwhile expenditure. Low lighting along walkways and along garden perimeters will improve the evening appeal of your home and add a tasteful ambiance to your landscaping during late evening or at night; a decorative standing light or porch fixture can add a welcoming touch of warmth and recognition; cleaning clutter can vastly improve overall appearance and attractibility.

For your convenience, here are a handful of simple outdoor maintenance tips and repairs you can do to increase the curb appeal of your home:

- Remove mold, moss and mildew on the house itself and on sidewalks, roofs, or on driveways.

- Take out that awkward, though well intentioned bit of landscaping or garden feature that you feel "never quite worked the way you wanted it to". Knowing when to add landscape elements to enhance, or when to remove highlights that detract from the overall curb appeal of your home is important.

- Try to view your home from the road when walking and/or driving past to get a sense of how a potential buyer may view it. Conversely, you might try taking a few photos of your home (preferably in black and white as it tends to show more of the telling details that can get lost in color) and analyze them objectively. Look for areas that "stick out" from the overall presentation.

- Clean up corners and edges that are laden with clutter -- move/clean up stacked and stored materials that are piled against the house.

- Clean windows and gutters.

- Prune trees for shape and presentation, tying them in to the overall architecture and design of your yard. Remove branches that are encroaching upon or actually touching the roof and siding. Remove branches, leaves and garden refuse.

- Pressure wash siding and decks.

- Apply a fresh coat of paint or stain to decks, entryways, shutters and to window casings that are chipped or worn.

- Mend and paint fences or landscape highlights.

- Edge sidewalks to ensure clean, crisp lines and pluck weeds that are protruding from cracks in bricks and concrete and from borders and ties.

- Patch cracks and fissures in cement walks or asphalt driveways.

- Plant flowers to add a tasteful splash of color.

- Keep the lawn trimmed and weeds curtailed.

- Remove dead leaves and garden refuse.

- Cut, trim or remove altogether, shrubs, trees and bushes that obscure windows or architectural highlights.
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