Like it or not, first impressions do count. How your home looks from the outside could make the difference between potential buyers coming in or driving off. And remember that the more people you get in through your doors, the more competition you create for your home and the higher your final selling price is likely to be.
So how does your home look? Step outside, walk across the street and turn around. But don't do it alone. Many of us get so used to our homes that we no longer notice the dirt, small cracks, rust or rotting wood. Ask a friend or your real estate agent for a second opinion.
Then draw up a plan and checklist. A bit of spit and polish – and some sweat and creativity – could go a long way in giving your home a welcome “facelift”. And it need not cost a fortune.
Eliminate the eyesores
Nothing is more off putting – or sets off subconscious alarms bells – like hanging gutters, missing bricks or roof tiles, rotten window frames, rust, cracks or peeling paint.
If the house does not look well-maintained, buyers will worry that they will need to spend time or money on the house. So get busy with the necessary repairs and maintenance.
Wash the dirt, mould and grime off the outside of your walls, garage door, faded walkways and driveway. Consider hiring a pressure washer for a day.
And if this isn't enough, invest in a fresh coat of paint. Paint is one of simplest, fastest and cheapest ways to transform your home. Plus if you're handy, you can do it yourself.
But opt for neutral or popular colours to ensure the widest appeal. And take note that your garage and its doors take up a lot of visual space so it pays to ensure they look their best.
Get rid of dead trees, branches, weeds and invasive vines in your garden as well as any other clutter that detracts from your street appeal: garden equipment, children's toys, unused outdoor furniture, ornaments and any other outdated, unattractive, mismatched or dilapidated features.
Assess you roof. Does it need some maintenance or repair and would this be cost effective? Are your gutters in good shape and do they need to be cleared?
And how does the pool look? Consider whether it needs some extra love and care.
Also, if the house next door brings down your appeal, try speaking to your neighbours about removing or concealing their rubbish or allowing you to trim their hedge or pavement.
Create that warm welcome
To get them through the door, buyers need to be able envisage themselves living in your home. So start setting the scene by giving their imaginations something to work on.
Consider creating appealing settings in attractive outdoor areas – for example, by placing comfortable outdoor furniture on a deck with a good view or a tranquil part of the garden. Can you improve the setting around the pool or barbeque area?
Are there any unattractive, dated or broken garden features that you could remove? What about that rusty old clothes line?
And what inexpensive additions could you make? A water feature, for example, could really help enhance a peaceful scene and make your house stand out from others.
Australians see their outdoor space as another room of the home, so don't neglect your garden if you want to grow your sale price. Mow your lawn and pavement. Get weeding and pruning. Pop in new mulch or soil to garden beds and pots. And consider planting some colourful flowers and greening up your grass with fertiliser and water. Examine how to enhance large bare areas.
The path to your front door should be welcoming and comfortable to navigate. Is anything broken, uneven or missing along the way? Buyers will notice, so get it fixed. And always ensure you've cleaned up after your pets!
An upscale mailbox and modern house numbers or address plaques are also low cost ways to add class to your home and they are likely to be among the first things a potential buyer sees from the street.
Your front door is also likely to be noticed by buyers as they approach the house, so think about giving it a makeover. Does it need a repaint and can it be enhanced by a bold new door knocker or door handle? Replace that worn-out welcome mat and ensure your entrance is swept and clean before showings.
Remember that no DIY work is better than bad quality DIY work. And those small details can make a big difference. Would updated light fixtures, potted plants or some outdoor furniture lift the tone of your front entrance and hasten potential buyers across your threshold? They won't buy your house unless you get them to step inside.