We hear the term ‘curb appeal’ in every HGTV show we watch, and nearly every article we read about selling a home. Our panel of experts breaks down what curb appeal means for buyers and sellers here in Northeast Ohio. Part art, part science; sometimes mechanical and sometimes just promoting a feeling, here’s what these top-rated area real estate agents had to say.
Adam Kaufman, Howard Hanna
Curb appeal is the most important thing. It’s no different than going on a first date. You aim to impress because you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
Janice Carson, Howard Hanna
The first impression is formed within the first seven seconds of seeing a home. It’s imperative that the home presents itself with ‘pride of ownership.’ The home should have a look in which a potential buyer would immediately feel welcome. Important aspects include a manicured lawn, fresh mulch in the garden beds, decorative pots filled with colorful seasonal plants, which can be changed out to fit the season, and these pots flanking a freshly painted front door with a pop of color to make everyone smile. The curb appeal sets the stage for what’s to come!
Sharon Friedman, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realtors
In Northeast Ohio, curb appeal certainly matters year-round! While it’s more of a challenge in the winter months, if someone is planning a move in advance, I recommend taking seasonal photos to showcase the yard. Take photos in the fall, for example, if the move is in March. Of course, I do current photos as well, but people get a perspective of the seasons. In winter, get the drive plowed, and have the walks shoveled. Even if a home is decorated for the holidays, it’s still appealing later in the year.
For the exterior, check the front steps for missing mortar, and other gaps, as many people don’t go through their front door. Walk around your home as a prospective buyer would, with your realtor, and get an opinion on paint color, refreshing shutters, and the trim. Drive by other houses in your area for sale, and you can really see which homes exude that “look.”
Kathleen Visconsi, Howard Hanna
First impressions matter in real estate. The homeowner’s care and maintenance of the exterior will reflect how they take care of the interior. In northeast Ohio I feel the landscaping must be maintained; and the front door and shutters freshly painted. Additionally in the different seasons, fall, for example, the leaves should be raked. In winter, the driveway and walkways should be cleared of snow.
Everything should be in good repair. All lights should be fully functioning and working, and dead landscaping should be removed or replaced.
Veena Bhupali, Elite Sotheby’s International Realty
Recently I had two sellers who both got multiple offers, and I know that quick offers were due to professional landscaping services. They had done the spring clean-up including tidying beds, weeding, and trimming. They added dark mulch (not too much!) and had the lawn edged and the driveway and patio power washed. Also, paint or clean the front entry area because that’s where buyers start getting impressed with the maintenance and care shown by the homeowners.
People often drive by a house before they ask to go in, and the yard is a great showpiece to get them interested to see what the rest of the property looks like. In Cleveland we have grim winters and wet weeks that can leave the home and yard looking tired and bleak. Realize that buyers are willing to pay more for your repairs and tidy appearance because they get excited.
Michelle McQuade, Howard Hanna
Curb Appeal is about capturing the buyers’ hearts through ambiance. Sellers tap into the emotion of “Is this our next-chapter home” when buyers drive down the street and up the driveway. If the home has been well cared for on the outside from the perennial gardens to the landscaping and lighting, that’s a huge plus. It sets the stage for what’s inside, what the buyer can expect.
If the exterior has been well maintained with updated features regarding the siding, roof, windows, and hardscape then it gives the buyer a sense of confidence when making an offer. And in this market, the buyer is almost always paying over list price. They need confirmation that although they may be paying higher than list, at least they don’t have to shell out more dollars for maintenance.
Karen Eagle/Karen Eagle Group, Elite Sotheby’s International Realty
Good curb appeal in Northeast Ohio isn’t one size fits all because every façade is different. Having said that, it’s important that whatever the style, the landscaping should be tidy and reflective of the house. We often see a beautiful home that’s hidden behind a mask of greenery that has entirely outgrown its purpose. Just because it was planted there when the house was built years ago doesn’t mean it’s still a good fit! Transplant that shrubbery elsewhere in the yard or share it with someone who needs it, and let the façade breathe!
A good power wash of the front of the house, and the walkway leading up to it makes a huge difference. Don’t overlook the light fixtures either – clean them or replace them where needed. And make sure shutters are clean, painted when needed, and securely attached to the home. Adding some perennial flowers or nice planters is always a great idea to keep a façade looking seasonal. In the dead of winter, some beautiful winter greens and twinkle lights can be used to make a house sparkle.
So many people don’t use their front door on a regular basis and therefore don’t even think to question if the area is in great shape or not!  Don’t let a buyer’s first thought be “Oh, the front door has to be replaced” when it really might just need a coat of paint and a fresh doorknob! Ask a neighbor to come over with the express purpose of surveying the front of your house and making some critical (along with great compliments!) comments regarding how it could be more appealing regardless of the season.