Beyond Curb Appeal: When It Pays to Stand Out

Posted by Laura Firszt | Nov 10, 2014
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Photo: krosseel/flickrPopular wisdom says that when you put your home up for sale, it should be made to appear as bland and beige as possible. Well, like a lot of popular wisdom, this idea is only partially true. A low-key look helps potential buyers to envision how their own possessions will fit into the house, but a dash of zest will help your property to stand out from the crowd ...  in a good way.

How Curb Appeal Can Pay Off

Although real estate sales have started to recover from the financial crash of 2007-8, in many areas there is still a buyer's market. The result is that would-be homeowners tend to be faced with a plethora of choices. You may be happily imagining house hunters who'll spend hours oohing and aahing over your home's many exceptional qualities. Truth to tell, your abode is likely to be just one in a long list of properties they look at. It takes careful planning and work on your part to make your home stand out from the crowd.  But your efforts can pay off  tremendously, in terms of heightened buyer interest and ideally, a quick sale at close to asking price.

Basic Quick Fixes

The first visual impression of your house people receive is what they see from the street, so don't neglect the basic quick fixes. Rule number one is this: Make sure that that future buyers know which house they should be focusing on. Mark your home clearly with attractive house numbers that are easily visible by day or night, in the sunshine or a Washington State rainstorm. While you're at it, make like a Seattle handyman and hang up a brand new mailbox to match.

Speaking of night, placing a few solar lights is a way to brighten up the path to your property without spending a fortune on electric bills. Once you've virtually led folks to your front door, how about making them want to walk in, by painting it a warm, welcoming color? A touch of natural material such as unpainted wood or stone adds an appealingly earthy vibe to your entryway.

When house hunters cross your threshold, the best way to continue your carefully cultivated positive impression is by making sure everything -- everything! -- is fresh and clean. Even the cake of soap and roll of tp in the bathroom should be brand new.

Going Further

Know your audience. For example, in a town with a high proportion of late middle-aged to elderly residents, extras that will make your home outstanding -- and sought after -- are apt to include a zero-step front entrance, ground floor bathroom, and open plan design offering plenty of room to maneuver with a walker or wheelchair. If you are planning to do some renovations in order to help sell your home, don't guess; ask your real estate broker where your remodeling dollars would be best invested.

Know yourself. Filling your yard with attractive landscaping will add curb appeal, but it's a time-consuming, expensive project. You can achieve a similar effect by adding some carefully chosen outdoor potted plants to your walkway and porch. For a potential buyer who does not have a green thumb (or big bucks to spend on a landscaping service), this may actually enhance the appeal or your property.

When it comes to personality, downplay your own but play up your home's. Many advisors on curb appeal recommend tucking away any personal items before a scheduled open house. That's great advice … as far as it goes. However, a moderate amount of interesting, unusual wall art or furniture does have a valuable role to play. Use it to draw attention to attractive features of your home. That sweet little balcony will look all the sweeter bedecked with an exquisite wrought iron table for two. An eye-catching painting at the top of your stairs just may encourage visitors to explore the second floor. And a charming vase filled with fresh-picked flowers underlines the fact that there's a lovely garden right outside.

Laura Firszt writes for

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