Over the last few weeks, we have been called to a number of listings that are just not selling. Houses will sit for all sorts of different reasons. They may be priced too high compared to others on the market, there may be negative site influences, or it could be any number of critical factors. One of the most important aspects of staging is removing as many objections as possible. A critical factor in the first impression of a home is the curb appeal.
Over the years we have seen all sorts of exterior issues affect a home’s sale. If a buyer drives up and the grass has not been cut in weeks and there are weeds taller than the buyers kids, (yes, 4’ high weeds!!), the seller has just blown the first impression.
Realtors have often told me over the years how frustrating it is to drive up to a listing that looked great online, only to find it has been neglected, and have the buyer decide they don’t want to go in to see the inside because the outside looked so unkept. Their first impression was total disappointment!
This can be a particularly difficult situation for out of town vendors. They are not here and often rely on others to maintain their yards while the property is listed. Whether it is a teenager down the street, a family member, or neighbour who is in change of the yard, it must be maintained. Determining who is responsible for the yard and ensuring they are aware when showings are occurring, goes a long way to ensuring a good first impression.
If you find it has not been maintained, it is as simple as taking a photo of the yard and sending it to the Realtor or the vendor so they can have the issue addressed.
Sometimes the grass is cut but weeds are left untouched for months. In most city lots, 15 – 20 minutes is all it takes to pull some weeds to make the yard look presentable and well maintained.
Another trick I share with clients is to add mulch. Decorative mulch in the flower beds or around shrubs or trees looks lovely and comes in various colours. The mulch blocks the sun from reaching weed seeds in the soil, preventing seeds from growing, and minimizing the overall weeds. Whether selling your home or not, I’m a huge fan of minimizing home maintenance. I’m an avid gardener with multiple perennial beds and raised gardens and have found mulch to be a huge time saver! I literally weed once a month and my gardens look great!
Large shrubs or overgrown trees can become unsightly if not groomed. Cut back lower branches that may interfere with walkways. Prune back straggly branches on trees and shrubs. Remove any dead branches or leaves. Try to keep shrubs and trees from blocking the views of windows or from rubbing on eaves or shingles. If you have large trees close to your foundation, ensure the roots are not compromising your foundation or water/sewer lines.
Use flowers to showcase the home and add that beautiful outdoor wow factor! In summer we have so many beautiful options for flowers and in fall we have the big box stores selling mums in many gorgeous shades and sizes! It’s easy to give your home that beautiful final touch of welcome a wonderful scent of fresh flowers as prospective buyers enter your home. Now that is a memorable first impression that says HOME!
What do you do if you no longer live in the home being sold? Do you really have time to drive over and water flowers? What about asking a neighbour? Or make a point of stopping on your way to work in the morning, heading out at lunch a few times a week, or take turns with other family members. The reality is that the better it looks the less time it will take to sell and the faster you will be free.
As the weather starts to turn cooler, it is equally important to pay a little attention to the entrance. As leaves start to turn and fall in the next few weeks, you want to ensure they are raked regularly and there is an entrance mat for buyers to remove dirty shoes. Clean the mat regularly as well. This is all part of the curb appeal and first impression of the exterior of your home. The key is to make them want to go inside so they can fall in love with your home! Happy Selling!