First Impressions: Get Instant Curb Appeal With These 10 Must-Dos

By Christine Rae, Staging Expert

The Internet is the first source for viewing a property for most buyers, even before talking to a real estate professional. That means curb appeal is important because they are “driving by” the listing, and you don’t know it.

Here are 10 things to consider when assessing the curb appeal of your listing:

1. Pressure wash siding, decks, and walkways.

2. Clean windows and gutters, and check downspouts.

3. Check the growth of trees and bushes–ensure they don’t block light from any window.

4. Kill any mold or mildew around the property.

5. Mow the lawn, eliminate weeds, and rake and dispose of leaves, especially if it’s a wooded lot.

6. Paint the front door. Color choice has a big impact–so you might want to get a professional’s advice.

7. Make the front entry sing “welcome”. The degree of what can be achieved depends on the size of entry and, of course, your budget. However, even minimal improvements will make a huge difference: Consider flowers, a new mailbox, hardware, lights, and house numbers.

8. Don’t forget the rear yard–buyers may attempt to see the back yard during a drive by, even from another street.

9. Outdoor lighting is a huge plus as 50 percent of viewings take place at night. Today we are fortunate to have access to inexpensive but tasteful low-voltage lighting. Consider placing lighting along the sidewalks, driveway, or attractive landscaping elements. Take extra care to ensure your front door and numbers are clearly visible from the street.

10. If the inside of the home is visible at night, be sure the interior lighting also enhances what is seen from the outside.

Remember: You never get a second chance to make a great first impression!

Christine RaeABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christine Rae is the co-author of “Home Staging for Dummies” (Wiley, 2008), found of Decorating Solutions Inc., and an internationally recognized expert and trainer in the home staging industry. She is the editor of Staging Standard, an industry trade magazine on staging, and co-author of the e-book “Home Staging Business Guide.” In 2005, she launched an international staging certification program, the Canadian Certified Staging Professionals, and Certified Staging Professionals in the United States and Australia.

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. The house has to “sell” itself, and that starts the moment we drive up for the first look. If the buyers think the house looks inviting from the street, they are expecting to like the interior as well. A well-kept yard goes a long way!

  2. Great article. I love this site.

  3. People make their first impression with the sense of site. No different than a job interview… if you don;t dress the part – you don’t get the job… Dillards looks much different thatn Walmart….


  4. Great article. Buyers are very picky these days and you need any edge you can get.