**“The one lesson** we stress to our clients is, if you are going to invest any money in renovating your home’s appearance, start with curb appeal,” says Linda Hammond, an interior-design teacher and co-owner of Design Essentials in Barrie, Ont. Together with her partner, Renee Stead, she has bought, staged and flipped more than 20 properties in Southern Ontario.
The facts are these: 70 per cent of home buyers today get their first impression of a home from Internet photos and newspaper ads. Some savvy shoppers will just do drive-bys, not even getting out of their cars to see the home’s interior. And most buyers decide within the first five minutes whether or not they will invest in a home. Simply put, curb appeal is crucial.
“To most buyers, a well-kept front lawn and entrance is a sign that the home, inside and out, has been well maintained. This could be a deal-breaker in their final purchasing decision,” says Stead. So turn your property into a hot seller with these expert tips. Even if you’re not selling, use this checklist to enhance the look of your home.
* A lush and inviting front yard works wonders. Seed lawns early so grass has a chance to grow, or patch bald spots with new sod.
* Replace any dead plants, and fill gaps in the beds with good-sized perennials and shrubs early in the season so the landscaping looks mature. Add annuals for instant colour.
* Trim trees and shrubs to expose doors and windows.
* De-clutter the yard of lawn ornaments, tools and toys.
* Mow and edge the lawn for a fresh appearance, and rake up any leaves.
* Consider new, matching accessories.
* Freshen up an old door with an attractive paint colour or purchase a new one, depending on your budget, and put out a welcoming doormat.
* Colourful containers are welcoming and add a decorative touch to a porch or walkway.
* Eliminate weeds and grass from the driveway and paths.
* Apply a coat of asphalt sealer or a fresh top-dressing of gravel.
* Fix any cracked or broken cement.
* Consider installing an attractive fence or hedge to define your property and frame your house.
* Check to see that existing fences are structurally sound, that gates work properly and that all are pleasing to the eye. Paint an old fence and do any repairs.
* Make sure your front door, entryway and house numbers are well lit.
* Use bright, energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs and, if necessary, replace old fixtures.
* When choosing a colour scheme, drive around your neighbourhood to find combos that are appealing and don’t stick out.
* Give windows a good cleaning inside and out.
* Wash or repaint shutters.
For more information on Design Essentials, visit design-essentials.ca.
**Fact:** Homes that are staged sell four times faster and usually for more money.