Curb appeal can boost home sale price

curb appeal
Curb appeal (infographic from nar.realtor)

If you want to increase the sale price of your home this spring, you will no doubt focus on the interior.  But how does the home’s exterior look?  You’d be surprised about the amount of necessary cleaning, decluttering and repairing around the exterior of your home.  But don’t skimp on the exterior home preparations before your sale – research conclusively shows that improving your home’s curb appeal can increase the sale price by as much as 8 percent!

An empirical study conducted by Chen, Evans-Cowley, Rutherford, and Stanley (An Empirical Analysis of Effect of Housing Curb Appeal on Sales Price of Newer Houses. International Research Journal of Applied Finance. 2013, Vol. 4 No 11, p1407-1419) was the first to demonstrate the relationship between a home’s sale price and curb appeal.  The authors also discussed how home buyers’ preferences in a home’s exterior influence the home’s sale price.  Besides curb appeal, they suggest that the home’s architectural elements could also be important in the final sale price.  The idea that today’s modern designs are more desirable, and likewise costs more money, is only transitory; such that today’s designs could become trite and tired in twenty years.

The study used a seven-point “attractiveness” scale to determine how respondents viewed the attractiveness of a home’s exterior.  They concluded that there is a relationship between a home’s exterior attractiveness and the home’s sale price.  In fact, they reported that a one-point increase in their scale corresponded to an 8 percent increase in the home’s value!

Home buyers make assumptions about your home’s interior based on the appearance of the exterior.  An unattractive exterior can repel home buyers before they even see the beautiful and updated interior.  Attract home buyers and boost your home sale price by focusing on cleaning, repairing, and “finishing” your home’s exterior.

Basic landscaping can make a huge difference in your home’s attractiveness.  Having too many plants, or letting them grow too much can make the home’s exterior appear crowded and unkempt.  Make sure your lawn is full but manicured throughout your listing.  Properly trimmed trees not only look tidy, but allow home buyers to see your home from the street.  Appropriately placed and trimmed shrubs and flower beds can accent the home’s architectural design.

Check your home’s siding.  Replace and repair any missing or broken siding pieces.  Freshen up siding by power cleaning, or painting.  Even if your home has artificial materials as siding, inspect window frames and fascia boards; these areas are often neglected and may need urgent repair.

How does the deck look?  Unless you maintain the deck regularly, chances are it may seem dull and tired, and may need to be re-treated.  Even if your deck is made of artificial decking, check the railings.  Hire a licensed contractor to repair and secure the deck as necessary.

How about the sidewalks and patio?  The sidewalk and patio can be easily cleaned by power washing.  Cracks in the sidewalk and patio are not only unsightly, but can be a trip hazard.  Cracks are typically caused by rain and water runoff, but can be repaired.  Consider also sealing the sidewalk and patio to prevent further water damage.

Finally, consider finishing the exterior to make your home more appealing and cordial.  Much like staging the home’s interior, you can use similar principles to increase the exterior’s attractiveness; such as placing appropriate chair(s) and potted plant(s) on the porch, deck or patio.

Copyright© Dan Krell
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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Making real estate sexy again

Real EstateThe go-go market of almost ten years ago was unique. The wealth aspect of the market seemed to have an effect on almost anyone who owned property; there was somewhat of a carnal attraction that had many home owners seeking more property and turning renters into home owners. It was no surprise that home ownership rates swelled to historic highs. Those who sold their homes or cashed out on their equity found themselves wealthier; while those who didn’t sell were happy to know their “paper wealth” was rapidly growing as home values realized monthly double digit gains.

At that time, the attraction to real estate for many seemed to be instinctive; the flirtation between home buyers and real estate may have been about a future of happy living and financial growth and security. Well, the sex appeal of real estate has worn off and seems to have been replaced by a “meh” attitude; probably indicating a lack of inspiration and/or interest.

Trying to regain the attention of home buyers, some agents have tried to re-establish real estate’s sex appeal. And it has been purposeful to attract home buyers by pairing homes with items that elicit carnal desire; listings are surrounded by exotic cars, modern art, and even sexy models have been credited to facilitate sales of luxury properties.

An April 2011 report by Julie Rose of WFAE 90.7 Charlotte (Realty Firm Uses Sex Appeal To Sell Luxurious Homes; wfae.org) described a photo shoot of a luxury home where, …” a blonde in tight jeans arches her back and tips a wine glass to her glossy lips. Her date leans closer, admiring…” But as Rose sates, “She’s lovely, but she’s not what you’re supposed to be looking at…” You’re supposed to be attracted to the kitchen features that seem to be a backdrop behind the model. However, the real estate agent interviewed said that the idea was to give an idea of what the home’s potential could offer.

Not all agents are on board with this technique, some have characterized the sexy advertising as “cheesy” and distasteful. One agent was quoted by Rose as saying, “It’s definitely gonna make someone stop and look at it. But once they’re in the listing looking at the pictures, I think they’re gonna focus a little more on the models rather than focusing on the home. And I think the bottom line is you want people to focus on the home.”

Sex appeal marketing is just a new take on selling a lifestyle. Lifestyle marketing has been the cornerstone of luxury real estate for years. For example, pairing fine art with luxury real estate has become commonplace; homes and condo projects have incorporated art collections to sell the lifestyle. In fact, the premier art show, Art Basel, has become the place to not only buy/sell fine art but high end real estate as well (Luxury Property Brokers Raring To Pounce On Wealthy Art Lovers At Miami Art Basel; November 28, 2013, Forbes.com). And for gear heads who want their homes built around their supercars, Miami’s über luxury Porche Design Tower will open in 2016.

Want to convey a lifestyle about your home? Before you hire models to pose in your home, consider talking to your agent about focusing on the things that made you enthusiastic and energized about your home. Chances are that the buyer of your home will be attracted to it the way you once were.

© Dan Krell
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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Challenges of selling a home during the summer

by Dan Krell © 2013
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summer home saleIf you were selling your home several years ago, you might have been thinking of ideas how to attract home buyers to your home. Even though the feeling today is such that you don’t have to do much to sell your home, some home sellers are shocked to find out that there is more to selling today than just putting a sign up in the yard – and summertime selling poses additional challenges.

First, get the price right. As I wrote earlier this year, pricing a home is extremely important even when there appears to be a positive selling cycle. Even though you decide on the list price, you have to be realistic about your home’s value; your real estate agent can assist you in deciding on a list price by preparing a market analysis with recent (within the last six months) neighborhood homes that are comparable to yours.

Next, remember that de-cluttering is the foundation to your home’s presentation. Whether you are a pack rat or a neat freak, chances are that your home could use some de-cluttering. De-cluttering shouldn’t be thought of as getting rid of everything you don’t need in the home, but instead could be thought of as a way to neutralize and free up space to allow home buyers to imagine how they could live in the home.

Another factor to consider during a summer home sale is your home’s curb appeal. The basics of curb appeal include attending to the home’s landscaping and grading, siding, deck, driveway and sidewalks.

We tend to get lazy about tending to the yard during the hot and humid summer months; however, if you’re planning a summer sale, it is not the time to let the lawn and weeds overgrow. Simple landscaping can make your lawn appear manicured. Trees properly trimmed away from the home will allow your home to be seen from the street as well as not be “crowded” by overhanging limbs. Neatly trimmed and properly placed shrubs and flower beds will not only look beautiful, it will enhance your home’s façade. Also, check that the grading around your home diverts storm water away from the foundation. Hiring a professional landscaping company to tend to your yard is the way to go if the heat and/or activity pose a health hazard.

Take a close look at the exterior of the home. If the exterior does not need painting, look for areas that may be peeling or bare. Decks, fascia boards and window trim are often made of wood and typically need more attention (even if your siding is made of brick or artificial materials). Consider having the deck and siding power washed to remove dirt, algae or mold. Additionally, resealing the deck and other exterior wood trim enhances the home’s curb appeal.

Sidewalks and driveways are often given the short shrift. Cracked sidewalks and driveway are not only unsightly, they can also be a trip hazard. Repairing and/or sealing the walkways and driveway can not only increase safety – it can improve the appearance of your home.

Finally, how cool is your home? An air conditioning system that does not keep your home cool is a buyer deterrent – especially in the hot summer months. If you don’t have the air conditioning system serviced on a regular basis, you should consider doing so before listing your home this summer.

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published the week of August 12, 2013 (Montgomery County Sentinel). Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.

Do you want to boost your home’s curb appeal and attract home buyers?

A healthy lawn can boost your home’s curb appeal and possibly attract home buyers.

by Dan Krell © 2011
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If you’re planning to list your home this spring, don’t forget to take care of your lawn. A healthy and properly groomed lawn can make your home more appealing and boost the home’s curb appeal.

Taking care of your yard doesn’t have to be overwhelming; after all it’s not rocket science. However, there is a science to fertilizing and mowing the lawn. Whether you decide to go it alone or hire a lawn care company, the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) offers a guide to proper lawn maintenance and Maryland’s Nutrient Management Law to limit the impact to the environment (www.mda.state.md.us).

Great care must be taken when fertilizing your lawn. Improper use of fertilizer can not only affect the environment, it can also harm your family and pets as well. Fertilizer should be applied when the grass is growing, and be avoided when the grass is dormant. Fertilizer should not be applied when a heavy rainfall is forecasted, when the ground is frozen, or during a drought because it could cause unwanted runoff into the watershed. Because most residential lawns in Maryland are comprised of cool season grasses (which can grow throughout the year) the MDA recommends that the bulk of the fertilizer application be in the fall to help the lawn recover from “summer stresses.”

In addition to following MDA recommended fertilizing application, lawn maintenance also includes proper mowing. It is recommended that you not cut off more than one-third of the grass blade at any given time. Most experts suggest that the appropriate length for many of the cool season grasses is 2.5 to 3 inches. Following recommended mowing guidelines can reduce weed growth by 80%.

If you prefer to water your lawn, infrequent watering for long duration is recommended because frequent brief watering promotes shallow root growth as well as encouraging weeds. During hot and dry weather, however, your lawn could go dormant; lawn experts don’t recommend watering dormant grass.

Sometimes, aerating your lawn is a good idea; especially if your lawn has become compacted. Through the use of a specialized tool, air, water and nutrients are readily absorbed into the ground; which promotes grass root growth and strengthening.

If you’re concerned about dead or brown patches in your lawn, the repair may not be complicated; however the causes should be resolved prior to the repair. Some common causes of brown patches include (but not limited to) animal urine, drought, or inappropriate fertilizer/herbicide application.

If you prefer to hire a company to maintain their lawn, it’s ok. Many people are just too busy, or physically incapable of properly maintaining their yards. Before hiring a lawn care company, the MDA recommends you do your homework; ask for referrals and get at least three estimates. Make sure the companies are licensed with the MDA. Besides comparing costs, compare the services provided as well as the quality of the materials used. Once hired, make sure you point out environmentally sensitive areas and ask for advance notice of pesticide applications.

Taking proper care of your lawn can not only ensure a healthy green covering, but can also enhance your home’s curb appeal. However, following recommended guidelines as well as adhering to the Maryland Nutrient Management Law, you not only get a healthier lawn; you also minimize the environmental impact.

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Comments are welcome. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of May 2, 2011. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2011 Dan Krell.