When you put your home on the market, it should be in pristine shape. This includes not only the home’s interior, but also the exterior areas. A high level of curb appeal and stylish backyard ideas could cause your home to sell, on average, for 7% more than comparable homes with no curb appeal, according to a study in the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics.
With that in mind, these are the outdoor maintenance projects you need to tackle before putting your home on the market.
1. Inspect/repair your roof
The buyer’s home inspector will definitely check the condition of your roof. If you have problems, you need to find out now, instead of later when the buyer may try to negotiate a lower price. 'In a climate with a lot of inclement weather, I think roof maintenance might be number one,' says Danielle Balestra a buyer's agent at Team Kolker in San Diego, CA. 'Not taking care of a roof first and foremost is like selling a convertible with a bad top.'
Check any trees for branches that have got out of control and are overhanging the roof too. Keep them in check to avoid any possible damage if they were to fall on the roof during poor weather.
2. Add mulch
You’d be surprised what a difference mulch can make. 'Mulching the garden beds gives a sense of neatness,' says Ellen Schwartz, a licensed associate real estate broker with Compass, serving clients in Westchester County, NY, and Fairfield County, CT. 'It shows the buyer that the seller cares about their property and keeps up with maintenance.'
Head over to our guide to mulching for all the info you need.
3. Paint the exterior
Let’s be honest: dull and dirty or chipped paint isn’t likely to appeal to buyers. 'Painting a home is like wearing fresh makeup - the home looks polished, it shines, no marks, no paint chips,' Schwartz says. 'It makes people want to come inside and see what else there is. She also recommends painting the shutters if they need to be touched up.
Schwartz’s view is shared by Betsy Ronel, a licensed real estate salesperson with Compass in Westchester County, NY. 'New exterior paint or even touch ups create a fresh way to start the visit off with a good energy and set nice expectations for the interior.' She explains that this demonstrates pride of ownership and will make buyers comfortable before they even enter the home.
4. Prune your trees and shrubs
Another way to show buyers that you care for your home’s exterior is by pruning your shrubs and trees. 'Thinning branches and cutting the lower branches in order to elevate or lift the canopy creates a sense of space, an open airy feel, and a crisp manicured feel,' says Christopher Totaro, agent at Warburg Realty in New York, NY. 'Buyers are formulating their opinion the moment they pull up to a house, so the first impression is everything.'
Find out the best ways to prune in our guide to pruning shrubs.
5. Remove weeds and debris
So, how important is it to remove weeds and debris? So important that Totaro’s Warburg Realty colleague, broker Ellen Sykes, has a client who didn’t want to hire a gardening service – so Sykes volunteered to do it, herself. 'I’m cleaning up all the debris from the winter – plus some dead plants,' she says.
Find out our top tips on how to weed a garden to get great results in your yard.
6. Plant something pretty
In addition to removing debris, Sykes says she is also planting tulips and daffodils in pots to place on her client’s large terrace. 'We can’t plant more than that until the middle of May when we’ll put out geraniums and other annuals that will take us through the summer.' She explains that people like to see color everywhere. 'When they see things growing, they are cheerful and hopeful.'
Depending on your region of the country, Balestra advises homeowners to use drought-resistant plants. 'This lets prospective buyers know they don't have to put much into keeping the outside of their home looking fresh,' she explains. 'Saving the buyer time and money is an appreciation usually carried through the offer phase.'
Head over to our container gardening ideas for more inspiration.
7. Make sure your grass is lush
Obviously, you’ll need to cut your grass as often as necessary – you can find the best lawn mower for the job in our guide. But depending on your lawn’s shape, you may want to do more than that. 'Don’t ignore any thin or dead patches of grass,' Totaro warns. 'Seeding grass will fill in problem areas, and spots caused by pet markings can be dealt with by applying grass paint – yes, there is such a thing.'
Balestra agrees that the color of your grass really does make a significant difference. 'You really do want the grass to look greener on the other side – your side.'
Follow our spring lawn care tips to get your lawn in great shape.
8. Repave the driveway and walkway
If your driveway and walkway are in terrible shape, repairs are in order before putting your home on the market. 'Repaving a driveway makes a driveway look neat and clean – it is like an extra-long welcome mat that looks smooth and feels smooth,' says Schwartz.
Repaving can also save you from a lawsuit. 'Straighten and even out walkways so people don’t trip while going toward the house,' Ronel recommends. She also agrees that a smooth driveway creates good feelings with buyers. 'If the exterior is so well-maintained, they’ll have confidence that the little things have also been tended to.'
And if you don’t really need to repave the driveway, she recommends patching holes and large cracks, and then sealing the driveway.
Want to give your exterior a smart update? Our paving ideas will inspire your new look.
8. Powerwash everything
There are probably several layers of dirt cover your home’s exterior. 'Wash the roof, deck and any exterior areas that show moss,' advises Ronel. She also recommends washing outdoor furniture and cushions.
Follow our tips on how to use a pressure washer to ensure you get the best results.
Terri Williams is a journalist with real estate, home improvement, and product review bylines at Realtor.com, Bob Vila, Yahoo, MSN, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Houston Chronicle, and Apartment Therapy. She also covers business topics, with bylines at USA Today, The Economist, US New & World Report, Verizon, and several other brands that you’ve probably heard of. Follow her adventures on Twitter.
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