Insights: Ask an Agent—Curb Appeal

The importance of “first impressions” couldn’t ring more true when it comes to curb appeal. Before selling your home, consider all the details that potential buyers view before they’ve even made it through the front door. Here’s what agents across our markets have to say to the following question:

Q: What are the most important factors when it comes to curb appeal in your market?

A: The outside of the house should be as beautiful as the inside. All the plantings need to be perfect. Remove any half-dead plants. The gate should not have any rust, and the driveway needs to be spotless, pressure cleaned, and stain-free. All trees should be properly trimmed, green, and well fertilized. Some homes use a sealant that makes the driveway sparkle. Another popular look for modern homes is to create a lattice effect in the driveway by interspersing concrete pavers with artificial turf. Very modern houses tend to be stark white and use palms and plants to project a green, woody, Zen-like feel. Buyers expect more color from a Mediterranean home, so colorful bougainvillea and other striking plants work well.

Lighting is also key to adding warmth and a bit of drama. When somebody drives by the house in the evening, the lighting tells a story. Last, many of my listings are on the Intracoastal Waterway, so the back of the home must have as much curb appeal as the front for the passing boat traffic.

—NIKI HIGGINS FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA

A: In L.A. we believe deeply in curb appeal. Some neighborhoods are perpetually cool, and some streets are so coveted that just having your curb run along them is the most important thing. Generally speaking, we need homes to look big in a city where lots are measured in square feet, lush in a place that is basically a desert, very old or super new, cutting edge or historically relevant. We’ve enlisted gardeners, landscapers, cleaners, and even a designer to do everything from change the front door color to reimagine a facade. Sometimes we fight Mother Nature—continually falling bamboo leaves and tree berries, even cement-staining olives. They all have to go, for every showing. We like to see pretty trees, gates, and fresh paint. Native plant–heavy landscaping is also a good way to pull buyers in. We’ve had clients buy houses because of a palm tree they fell in love with when they drove up or because of a tree with a swing in the front yard. Finally, Angelenos find it hard to resist classic Spanish roof tile.

—LEARKA & HEATHER BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA

The front door is a great way to add a splash of color.

A: Buyers looking for a home in the suburbs want maintenance-free living that’s easy on the eye. Make sure the roof is clean and shampooed, gutters are securely attached and properly cleaned, and the home has been painted to today’s standards. Holes in stucco from woodpeckers, etc., should be filled, repaired, and painted.

The front door is a great way to add a splash of color. Blue or muted red works well for a Tudor design; glass doors add sex appeal to contemporary homes. Garage doors are a must. Shed colors should match the garage doors and the home’s overall style. Fences should be well maintained. Mailboxes should be new; think copper, brown, or classic white. Outdoor lighting needs to work and look up-to-date. Doorbells, too, must work and have covers that look appealing. Buy fresh doormats, and add path or walkway lighting. Trim shrubs and cut back trees; vegetation can cause moisture issues if it comes in contact with a house. Remember the house has to pass inspection.

—ANTHONY DEBELLIS SCARSDALE/KATONAH, NEW YORK

A: In New York City, curb appeal has two components: the building and the apartment itself. The first things buyers notice before setting foot in an apartment are the building’s exterior, lobby, and hallways. If poorly maintained, the sale price of an apartment will be adjusted downward regardless of the condition of the apartment. When it comes to the apartment itself, it’s essential that the impression one gets upon opening the door is positive. Repairs, cleaning, and recaulking are a good place to start. Take time to declutter, and pay attention to the size and placement of furniture. Furniture that is too large or heavy for the space can make an apartment harder to sell. Make the space feel as light and bright as possible: Enhance the lighting; remove heavy drapery as well as area rugs with darker colors and busy prints. Wash the windows. Consider painting dark walls white. We recently conducted a poll on Instagram asking people to vote on white walls versus yellow, and white was the clear winner.

—JESSICA LEVINE NEW YORK CITY

–by Michelle Sinclair Colman

Find your next home with great curb appeal today.

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