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House For Sale: First Impression Matters!!

Updated on September 6, 2014

Exterior Details

When you are looking at your exterior you need to look at it through the eyes of a customer. Start with what's different about you and that customer. You know what's inside...they don't. You have a key...they are standing behind a Realtor waiting for them to get the door open so to avoid staring at the Realtor's hind quarters...they look up and around etc.

What does that mean? It means...if there are spiders in the corner of the soffit above the door, they will notice. They are taking a better look at your front yard and entry way than you ever do.

Clean flowerbed...looks great.
Clean flowerbed...looks great.
Water hose left out on the porch...-don't do.
Water hose left out on the porch...-don't do.
clean !! no spider webs.  This is where they are looking while waiting on the agent to get the door open.
clean !! no spider webs. This is where they are looking while waiting on the agent to get the door open.
door freshly painted, porch free of clutter, leaves, dirt etc.
door freshly painted, porch free of clutter, leaves, dirt etc.

What should you do? In addition to trimming the yard neatly around the walkway and driveway, you need to just stand there for some time looking around-look for issues that need attention. Power-wash that garage door, clean the front door- does it need paint? does your door knob look old and worn? Is the door difficult to lock - do you have to pull it toward you as the key is turned etc. Address these issues. The front door should be inviting and fresh. The lock should glide smoothly, the edges of the sidewalk should be fresh and clean. Look at your flowerbeds...are they healthy and neat or do they need attention.

Here's a brief checklist:

1. Yard mowed and kept short.

2. Edges near walkways, driveway, flowerbeds- neatly cut.

3. No bare spots in flowerbed where rain washes off the roof and moves mulch around (if you have no gutters this is a problem-dress it up with rocks or other landscaping items.)

4. Check for spiderwebs in upper corners where roof meets wall on front porch.

5. Front door should be clean and fresh- paint it if needed.

6. Door should shut smoothly and be easy to unlock.

7. If there is separation around your garage door and the exterior wall (brick veneer or rock) get this fixed. It might be a small problem now but if neglected this common problem will grow.

8. Plant some flowers, they don't have to be the flowers that you like- they just need to be fresh and inviting. A little pop of color will really brighten up a yard.

9. Clean up any debris, toys, yard tools...even the water hose. Keep the yard free and clear of clutter just like you do for the inside of the house.

Why does really this matter? A common mistake people make is to say things like..."I've got to live here...these people have to understand it's still my house." While it seems like that is a good point, the reality is you need for them to think about how it might be their house. If they are thinking about this as they get out of the car, then you are off to a good start. If they have to "realize it's your house" and overlook something, then they aren't imagining how they would fit into it. You've already lost a little ground before they ever stepped in the door! These are the type of things that cause people to say things like " I don't know what it is but, this is just not the house for me. or..."I can feel it...This is the house!"

I've been licensed for over 10 years and I can tell you that over and over it is the emotion the people experience that drives the bulk of their decisions. How the house feels to them. If it feels like a lot of work, they struggle to see the positives-- unless of course if they are bargain shoppers looking to make a low offer. If that is the customer you seek then I suppose it doesn't matter but if you want the most for your house it will matter. The emotion they feel as they approach the door is strong, and it guides the direction of the the emotion they feel when they get inside. The tone is set, if it is a great first impression they enter the house looking for positive things and dismiss small things. If the front didn't provide a good presentation they tend to pick apart the silliest things inside and those small things become big issues - right down to how much they don't like the furniture which wouldn't matter because it is the house for sale not the contents- but if it starts off the opportunity for it the whole experience to go downhill is greater than if it starts off good.

Don't take chances...take the extra time to dress up the exterior.


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