Hydrangeas paniculata in summer cottage ornamental garden. Relax area with wooden bench, Little Lime hydrangea in rattan flower pot.

By RITA KUEBER
When it comes to the spring real estate market, the adage is true: You only have one chance to make a first impression. Four top-selling agents in the area are in total agreement on this and have tips on improving the curb appeal of your house whether it’s up for sale or just adding beauty and order to the neighborhood.
“Buyers are judges,” Adam Kaufman from Howard Hanna says. “If the outside indicates deferred maintenance, their antennae go up and they start wondering about the interior immediately. It’s very, very important to make a great first impression. It’s just like a job interview or a first date – you dress to impress. It’s the same thing with a house.” Michelle McQuade, also with Howard Hanna, agrees. “The first impression of the outside carries through to the interior of the home,” she says. “If a seller showcases a pristine home on the exterior including the property lot, then buyers automatically have positive expectations of the home itself.”
Karen Eagle/The Karen Eagle Group of Elite Sotheby’s International Realty drilled down on some details to consider. “Regarding the landscaping, make sure everything is trimmed, mulched, and tidy, and if there are huge, overgrown shrubs hiding your house get rid of them,” she says. “Have everything power washed if necessary. Cement, siding, and stone all look so much better when freshly cleaned.”
“Do a walk around your yard. Clean up the twigs and branches as soon as you can,” says Sharon Friedman, Broker Associate and realtor with Berkshire Hathaway. “Even now (late April at the time of this interview) put out potted plants and enhance the look of the exterior before most things are in bloom. Check your walkways and the deck or patio to be sure everything’s in good condition.”
“Think about adding as much color as possible with annuals in window boxes and borders,” McQuade says. “Focus on the existing landscaping by pulling weeds, shaping the shrubs, deadheading flowerbeds, and perhaps pruning any low-hanging branches and mulching existing beds,” she adds.
Eagle tells sellers to pay particular attention to the actual entry. “Have all the windows washed including the transom and side light windows, and the windows on the door. Wash the door or give it a new coat of paint if needed. Make sure the door lock is not sticky,” she adds. “I hate it when I’m with a client and I’m standing there for five minutes trying to get the door unlocked!”
“One of my pet peeves is leaving a window in the garage uncovered,” Friedman states. “It’s unsightly to see cars in the garage. Get a blind or a shade to hide that view. Also, check on the outdoor lighting over the garage, and over the front door. Be sure everything is working and add a railing if you have steps to the entry.”“Yes, make sure those lights are clean and have working light bulbs in them. If they are old and rusted or broken, replace them,” Eagle says. “The first impression is made at that entry. Make it a good one.”
“The front of the house is more important than the back – it’s the first thing people see. If there’s a broken mailbox, I make the seller fix it. If numbers are missing from the address, I get them to fix that too,” Kaufman says “And the For Sale sign has to be attractive. It doesn’t bode well for the house or the agent if there’s a rusty sign falling down in the front yard. I always make sure that sign looks good.”
“I have a checklist for my walk around,” Friedman says. “I also have one for the interior, which is more about decluttering and having clean surfaces. Have your realtor go through everything with you, for another pair of eyes on the property.”
“There’s no way to measure the return value for tidying up the exterior and the curb appeal of your home, but it certainly will help the home to sell faster which means more dollars for the owners,” McQuade states. “Spring real estate market and curb appeal definitely go hand in hand.”