If you are considering selling a home by owner or planning to list it with an agent, perhaps you’re not sure yet, either way – creating excellent curb appeal is imperative.
“Curb Appeal” is real estate agent lingo for describing how your home looks upon first impression of a buyer as he drives up to the property.
Every real estate agent, good or bad, will agree on one thing: curb appeal gets more potential buyers to your home and increases sale prices. First impressions go a long way and excellent curb appeal suggests a home has been cared for. Upping the curb appeal of your home doesn’t require a lot of money. Here are 6 Tips To Sell A Home By Owner: Curb Appeal Edition. Discover six ways to create excellent curb appeal in the Seattle, WA area.
Tips To Sell A Home By Owner: Green the Grass
A beautiful lawn is a charming feature in many Seattle homes. Of course, here in Lake Forest Park, many of us have more moss than grass in our lawns, but the idea is the same – an open green space for children to frolic, dogs to play, and for you to look upon while you sip your morning coffee.
Take a good look at your lawn and see what it needs. Here in the Seattle area, many of us don’t water our lawns in the summer and they go yellow and dormant. In spring they can turn yellow, then white, with dandelions, and they tend to be green, soggy and overgrown all winter when its too wet to mow.
My father has a giant golf-course-trimmed barefoot-soft lawn that he mows religiously with varying stripe patterns, like at the Mariner’s baseball stadium. He’s given me lots of lawn-care tips through the years, so here’s what I suggest.
Ideally, you don’t have weeds in the grass or anywhere else but if you do, take the time to get rid of them. If you have moss, you can put moss killer on it, but then it turns black, so I actually do not suggest that. Moss in the lawn is a function of lack of sunlight. If your grass is in the shade, it’s going to struggle. I figure you might as well embrace the moss and enjoy it – it’s lovely to walk on!
If you can’t get it all done yourself, hire a landscaper for the day to clear out weeds from the grass and around bushes and flowerbeds. If you need a referral, call me – I know a guy.
Once the weeds are removed, you could spray to prevent more from popping up (but I don’t! as an organic gardener, I avoid using herbicides at all costs). Usually an herbicide is not necessary if you’ve taken the time to remove your weeds by the roots and continue to keep the grass mowed. Once the weeds are gone, keep things watered with a sprinkler on a timer and try a high-nitrogen fertilizer to encourage lush new green growth.
Most realtors prefer homeowners having grass in the front yard because homebuyers react better to a green lawn even when trees and shade make this a difficult task to accomplish. If your lawn is very thin and has seen better days, or you’ve recently finished a building or remodeling project and have nothing but bare dirt, consider over-seeding your lawn – which means sprinkling it with a new grass seed mix, or bringing in rolls of turf to set on the dirt for insta-lawn.
Keep the grass green and get rid of any pesky weeds as they pop up after clearing the area out. Maintenance takes some work but is worth it to sell the home.
Tips To Sell A Home By Owner: Clean Windows and Screens
Remove window screens and clean them from grime and dirt accumulated over the years. I have cats who love to perch on the windowsill and watch for rabbits outside. They are murder on screens with their long hair getting caught, and their claws pulling holes in the mesh when they see a bug on the window. Even if you don’t have pets, cleaning the screens can help windows appear nicer. If you have old screens or a great view, consider removing the window screens and storing them elsewhere, as the view will be easier to enjoy without the visual interference of a window screen.
Wash windows on both the inside and out. Make sure there are no streaks on the windows, allowing light into the home and a clean, crisp look from the curb. Clean up windowsills by sanding any rough areas and repainting window trims. You don’t need to repaint the entire exterior to give the outside a fresh update.
Tips To Sell A Home By Owner: Trim Trees and Prune Bushes
As you might have guessed from my description of his lawn care regime, my father is very particular about how he keeps his yard. Another admonition courtesy of his wisdom is: don’t let your landscaping plants touch your house. Ideally all trees, bushes, plants, etc. should be at least 12″ away from the house. If vegetation is touching your house, it can scratch and age the roof and siding. It can also provide a pathway for ants and other destructive creatures to get easier access to the home. This is something I am always having to remind my home sellers, buyers and property managers about. It really is important and comes up as an issue on almost every property inspection.
Large trees and overgrown bushes look unkempt because they usually are. Some trees also pose a danger to roofs or neighbor fences. Many homes in the Seattle area have views of Lake Washington, the city, or a territorial view of some type. Neighbors resent having overgrown trees block their view (not to mention the sun). With large evergreens, an arborist can help you trim the lower branches to let in light and remove dead limbs that are no longer helping the tree.
Be very careful about tree removal though, here in Lake Forest Park they have strict codes meant to fine and discourage tree removal. You better check with the city before you take out a large tree altogether. Large trees might require professional trimming to ensure the branches are evenly cut and don’t create a falling hazard.
Prune bushes so they don’t cover windows and overflow over walkways. Plants grow toward the light which means they always want to come into the path. Making your yard look inviting and accessible means having broad walkways where people can pass without their clothes getting wet or snagged. Well-trimmed hedges help designate walk areas inviting buyers to the path of making an offer on your home.
Tips To Sell A Home By Owner: Declutter Walkways and Entryways
Make sure yard tools, kids toys and yard décor is kept to a minimum. Just like decluttering the inside of your home, keeping a tidy yard is attractive and allows potential buyers to envision their life in the home, not yours.
Put sporting good items like bikes or golf nets away. If you can’t remove items from the area completely, get an outdoor storage bench to organize items as best as possible. Keep outdoor furniture organized and to a minimum as well.
Tips To Sell A Home By Owner: Clean Your Gutters and Roof (Carefully!)
My dad loves to clean the roof. I think he looks at it as an adventure. For me, it’s a heart attack on a plate as I ready myself to catch him if he falls, my cell phone clutched in my hand, pre-dialed to 911. Most people are not like my dad and do not put their annual gutter cleaning and roof inspection on their autumn calendar.
If it’s been a while since YOU were up on your roof cleaning out the gutters, look out! A plant growing out of the rain gutter isn’t a great selling point. Neither is water spilling over the side of the gutter in a heavy rain. If you’ve got kids – you need to get up there right away. Chances are the drain pipe is being clogged with nerf gun bullets as we speak! So, get on it: clean out gutters of dirt, leaves and grime. Retouch the paint as well, adding to the fresh look of the window trim. If you don’t have a loved one with 911 on speed dial and arent’ excited to do this job yourself, I would be happy to give you a referral to someone who’s excellent and reasonably priced (and who is roped-in with a safety harness).
Remove leaves and branches from the roof. Most homes have certain areas that collect leaves. It’s good practice to keep the roof clear of debris regardless of selling to prevent deterioration or rodent infestation. A clean roof looks cared for.
Tips To Sell A Home By Owner: Power Wash Everything
No one wants to move into someone else’s dirt and mess. This starts with the exterior of the house. If the exterior looks clean and fresh, potential buyers get the impression the interior is as clean or cleaner.
Power wash siding, fencing, walkways and walls. Not only will this get everything clean, it will expose areas that might need some attention before the open house such as painting a fence or fixing a cracked sidewalk. For tough mildew stains, you can add oxyclean to the power washer’s water supply or spray it on the pavers by hand. Dad likes to do this every few years. It really makes a big difference. if you’ve never had it done, you’ll be amazed at how much better it looks when it’s done. There are instructions on the oxyclean box telling you how to use their product to wash outdoor surfaces.
With some simple cleaning you can have your patio looking like new again. If you don’t have a power washer, call Aurora Rents and see if they can help you out.
Tips To Sell A Home By Owner: Bonus Tip – Talk to A Real Estate Agent So You Can Make An Informed Decision
As a real estate investor, I understand the value of the dollar, and you may be feeling like you want to sell your home yourself (FSBO), because you want to save money. I’ve sold homes FSBO myself, I’ve worked for a discount real estate agency, I’ve listed with a flat-fee agent, and I’ve sold homes with a full-priced real estate agent. Before I had my license, I sold many properties many ways. The truth is, there are pros and cons to each approach, and the best choice really depends on your situation. If you have questions about real estate listing services and are wanting to make a cost-effective choice, I encourage you to reach out for a no-pressure discussion of the options and your particular situation.