Home Staging: Curb Appeal Makes a Difference

Here’s a home staging lesson from a stager friend of ours.  He reminds us that you want to make sure the inside of your house is appealing, but you shouldn’t neglect the condition of the front yard either, because curb appeal makes a difference.

You have done everything right in preparing the inside of your house for sale. You have packed away your Aunt Louise’s doll collection; repainted all the trim in the downstairs rooms; replaced the dated Tiffany glass fixture over the kitchen table; removed the heavy living room drapes, and washed the windows till they sparkle. Your room photos look great on the web. Your house is ready for a quick sale. Or is it?

If prospective buyers are turned off when they see your front yard, they may not even get out of their cars to come inside. All your interior prep work is useless if your yard says “This house has not been well-maintained. Better go elsewhere.”

Here are some tips to help you make a good first impression when buyers drive up:

* Straighten the mailbox post and repair/paint/replace the mailbox if it’s not in good shape.
* Keep the lawn mowed and put away toys, bikes, old pots and other debris.
* Weed and mulch the garden beds, and replace any dead shrubs.
* Repair the cracks in your front walk and use Roundup on weeds or grass coming up between bricks or stones.

Does it make a difference?

Our staging consultant friend was hired by the owner of a high-end house to remove barriers to sale — without spending a fortune. It had been on the market for 3½ months and had neighborhood competition. It was not in good condition. The owner’s kids had caused moderate damage to the family room walls; primitive murals covered one whole wall in each of two large bedrooms; there had been a minor fire in the kitchen which marred the ceiling; and the kitchen appliances were in bad condition.

Our stager repainted the interior, installed new kitchen appliances fitting the target market, and cleaned up the front walk and its beds. The exterior cleanup, with its modest cost, boosted the curb appeal and made the most dramatic change of anything he did. The house sold in 12 days.

Before the cleanup, prospective buyers were not keen even to look inside the house. Those who came in were already convinced that the house would disappoint them, so they were unable to see anything but faults. The large, bright rooms, fieldstone fireplace, and great views were not sufficient to erase the first, bad impression.

On the other hand, when a prospective buyer has a favorable first impression, he or she may excuse even obvious faults. “I can live with that.”

In home staging, curb appeal makes a difference. Why? Because you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

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