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By Suzanne Baetz
You drive past a house that is stunning. You turn around and drive by again, this time slower. You turn around and slowly drive by a third time and by now the neighbors are beginning to wonder if you are casing it.
You have found what you think could be your dream house.
You return home and call a real estate agent — one you know, one you randomly pick out of the phone book or the one that currently is listing your house for sale. You exclaim you have found the house and you need to look inside right away.
This is why curb appeal is so vital in preparing a house for the market.
Curb appeal is like window shopping; it is the enticement for you to walk into the house and see what it has to offer. A house without curb appeal keeps you driving by without giving the house a second thought.
The how-tos of curb appeal are not difficult and do not require a huge sum of money. Most of the work of good curb appeal is just good old-fashioned elbow grease.
The first step is to remove clutter.
If it is not growing or something to walk or drive a car on, get rid of it. Pack it up, give it away or throw it away. Put the yard tools in the garage or shed. That goes for lawn ornaments, too, even the ones that look like gnomes and farm animals. Pick up trash, even if it is hiding behind a large shrub. And speaking of shrubs, trim them. Quite often shrubs grow up and hide the size or beauty of the house.
After you have removed clutter and trimmed, it is time to clean. If possible, power wash the house. Clean the windows and window sills. Wash and repaint shutters and doors if needed. Make sure porch light fixtures have working bulbs and are clean.
Exhausted yet? I hope not because now it is time to repair anything cracked or broken. This includes sidewalks, concrete steps, door and window frames and downspouts. If the porch or sidewalk has vegetation growing in it, kill it. Remember the impression you give on the outside is the impression potential buyers expect on the inside. If it is a lousy impression they may never step foot into your house.
After the yard is clutter free and sparkly, it is time to stage the home’s exterior. This can be relatively easy. Plant seasonal flowers in the gardens. It is not necessary to spend a lot on flowers, but keep them watered and fed. Keep the grass mowed and the edges trimmed. Kill those weeds. Add a planter with flowers to the front porch. Add a floral wreath to the front door, but not one that is overwhelming.
You also can choose to repaint the house; add a new front door, new hardware or new lighting. This is an expense, but it might make the difference. If you do decide to paint, drive around a bit and see what other house colors are appealing. If you choose to paint the house yourself, make sure you do it neatly.
Now your work is finished and it’s time to go for a ride. Drive by your house, slowly, and ask yourself, do you want to yell, “Honey, stop the car?”
Suzanne Baetz owns Staged to Sell in Elizabethtown. If you have a question about staging your home you would like one of our home staging columnists to answer, e-mail hom email@example.com.