When it is time to sell a house, first impressions matter

Real Estate Review

With fewer Peninsula houses on the market this season, it is a good time to think about whether it is “time to sell.” For whatever the reason—upsizing, downsizing, relocating, or changing life circumstances—there will be a situation when it is time for a property owner to sell. It is nice to be a seller in a “sellers’ market,” and this is the current situation for many segments and price points in the local housing market.

Location, condition and price sell homes, but to sell your house, you need to make a good first impression. The curb appeal is what gets many buyers out of the cars and inside the front door. For many sellers, paying a little attention to curb appeal can make a significant difference in a quicker sale at a better price. Most house listings should have a good “postcard” view of the front of your home as the primary listing photo for Internet searchers.

Curb Appeal

Drive by your house slowly, without stopping or turning in the driveway. Can you see the front door from the street? Does your house look like it is framed by the front yard trees and landscaping, or does it look like it is trapped in a tangle of overgrown shrubbery and untrimmed trees? If the front of your house and your front yard look like a poster for “deferred maintenance,” potential buyers may wonder whether this inattention to maintenance extends to plumbing, wiring and mechanical systems that are—unlike the front of the home—otherwise out of sight.

Many homeowners don’t realize that the curb appeal of a house may have declined during their period of ownership. Since most of us don’t use our front doors on a daily basis, we are not usually looking at it from the perspective of a guest or first-time visitor—unless we are hosting a party. Think about welcoming perfect strangers to your house…how does your house look now? Fortunately, there are some very simple and affordable exterior enhancements that can improve the curb appeal of your home. Even three to four afternoons of work can be transformational, and this effort may have the best return on investment, when compared with anything else you may consider doing to prepare your house for sale. Here are few ideas:

Landscaping. Lawns should be green, fertilized and well mowed. Landscaping beds should be mulched, with neat edges. Bushes should be trimmed to avoid blocked windows or crowded walkways. Trees should be trimmed, especially those that may obstruct the front of the house. Any branches that touch the house need to be removed, since they can cause storm damage and will be noted by home inspectors. Neat and clean landscaping does better than a profusion of unkempt growth.

If you have an ornamental post light, it should work, and make sure it is clean and in good repair. No cobwebs! Often a small garden around a post light is a good spot for a splash of floral color. A small planter or pot can serve a similar function for a very small front yard.

Front Door. This is a key item in your home’s curb appeal; you don’t need to spend a fortune on your front door to make it look good. The door should match the style of the house (simple is better) and be washed and repainted if needed. An accent color is nice, but better to match shutters or mailbox. Most buyers don’t want a purple door! If the lockset is old or cumbersome, replace it, using solid material. If you have an older storm/screen door, remove it. If you need to replace it, use a quality “full view” door.

Siding and Façade. The siding or brick should be clean. Pressure wash if needed, especially to rid cobwebs and algae. Windows and gutters should be clean, with downspouts and drainage taking rainwater away from the foundation. If paint touch up is needed, the front siding and trim is where the focus should be. Consider repainting just the front siding and trim of the house (if needed). Since no two sides of the house get the sun at the same angle, minor differences in paint shade (new/faded) are not noticeable.


Real estate industry professionals know that curb appeal sells houses. While property location and price can get a prospective buyer to the street address, it is the attractiveness of the home and entrance that encourages buyers out of the car and up to the front door.

John Brooks is a Realtor® with Howard Hanna William E. Wood at its Port Warwick office. He can be contacted
at 757-813-0160 or by email at

About John Brooks 9 Articles
John Brooks is a Realtor® with Howard Hanna William E. Wood at its Port Warwick office. He can be contacted at 757-813-0160 or by email at jbrooks@howardhanna.com.

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