The old cliché says, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This is true for people and houses. The first impression a visitor will get of a home is the exterior. There are many things owners can do to make the exterior beautiful, increase its resale value and make it look attractive to potential buyers.
“The first thing buyers will see before they even get out of the car is the ‘curb appeal’,” said Greg Jeanfreau, a realtor with Latter & Blum.
Sarah Martzolf, a realtor with The Martzolf Group, said landscaping leads prospective buyers to believe the previous owners cared about the property. If it’s in a neighborhood full of well-landscaped homes, it will make buyers think it’s a warm, welcoming neighborhood.
The most simple and obvious thing homeowners can do (yet many fail to do) is to keep the grass cut often. Edging the lawn is just as important as mowing. It keeps the grass from growing over the sidewalks. Mulching can improve the health of the soil and reduce the amount of weeds. Speaking of weeds, if you see them in the lawn or on the sidewalk, pull them out immediately.
Flowers and shrubbery can add a splash of color to the outside of a home, catching the eyes of visitors. If you are not planning on selling in the near future, Jeanfreau said you can beautify the exterior by planting shrubs that will do well in the climate but not overtake the front of the house. Something like oleanders can look good at first, but eventually overgrow even substantial spaces. Gardenias and sweet olive are examples of slower growers that are easier to control.
“One of the most common mistakes people make when landscaping is not having knowledge about the plants they choose … You want to install plants you like, but you also need to know what the form will be over time,” said Kim Alvarez, a landscape architect with Landscape Images Ltd.
Alvarez added that it is important to consider the size of your house when planting trees in front of it. The trees should be proportional to the house, not overwhelm it. If you already have bushes or trees in front of your home, make sure you trim them on a regular basis. If a tree has too many branches or a bush is overgrown, it can obscure the view of your house.
Martzolf agreed with Alvarez. “Covering up architectural details can be a problem,” Martzolf said.
Martzolf also noted that landscaping can be a challenge in New Orleans because many homes, especially those Uptown, come on small lots. However, careful placement of greenery like box hedges or Savannah holly trees can work well and make the house appear bigger to prospective buyers.
“A clean, crisp, tailored yard will always make a small space look its largest,” Martzolf said.
HGTV.com offered another easy trick — paint the front door a jazzy color that blends well with the house. A wreath on the door and potted plants by the entrance can also create a warm, welcoming vibe.
If your home has a driveway, it’s important that it be presentable to visitors or buyers. Recycling bins or trash cans are not pretty, so keep them out of sight. If you have minor cracks in your driveway, patch or reseal them yourself for approximately $100-150.
“Just as you don’t want to have a cluttered interior, be careful not to overdo it outside,” Jeanfreau said.