07: Market Value — published on April 9, 2009

Wikipedia definition of curb appeal

Curb appeal is attractiveness of the exterior of a residential or commercial property. The term was extensively used during the housing boom and continues to be used as an indicator of the initial appeal of a property to prospective buyers.

Methods for increasing curb appeal

Curb appeal can be accomplished by any number of methods including the installation of exterior decorations, re-painting, extensive attention to the landscaping. Several television programs have been created to explore ways for homeowners and building contractors to increase the curb appeal of their properties for a more profitable sale.

07: Market Value — published on May 21, 2008

Curb appeal counts when selling

It’s important that your home look tidy outside as well as inside. You’re ready to put your house on the market. Inside, it is beautifully decorated and sparkling clean. That bit of peeling paint on the porch and the bald spots in the garden won’t bother prospective purchasers, right?

Maybe not. And then again, they may drive by, see these flaws and take your house off the list of houses they plan to view. First impressions count.

What real estate agents call “curb appeal” is the impact your house makes when seen from a car or the sidewalk. If the exterior of the house and the yard are tidy and well maintained, prospective purchasers walk in with a pleasant feeling of expectation that the interior will match up. If the lawn is shaggy, the windows are dirty and the doorbell doesn’t work, they will be on guard for problems inside.

Here’s a short list of things you can do to increase your home’s curb appeal:

  • cut and rake the grass and water frequently enough to keep it green; fill and seed any bare patches.
  • wash windows and replace any cracked glass.
  • weed and edge the garden.
  • bridge gaps in foundation plantings with bright annuals in containers.
  • remove flaking paint and stucco from the steps, porch or deck, door, trim and storage sheds and repaint.
  • keep the lawn and porch or deck clear of bikes, toys, gardening tools, flyers and other clutter.
  • keep the pool immaculate.
  • make sure the front door opens and shuts smoothly and the doorbell functions.
  • tuck garbage containers out of sight.

It’s a good idea to ask your listing agent to take a tour of the exterior, note any flaws and tell you what you need to do to make your home more saleable.

If you don’t have the time or skills to make repairs or spruce up the garden yourself, consider hiring a handyman, gardening service or pool service to visit your home a few times before you list and while it is on the market. Check out ads in the local paper or ask neighbours or your agent to recommend people who can help you at a reasonable price.

Try to think of your home’s appearance as a form of advertising. The few hundred dollars you invest in increasing its curb appeal can mean more viewings, a quicker sale and – possibly – a better price.

07: Market Value — published on May 13, 2008

Be the belle of the block

Curb appeal is crucial in Toronto’s changing market

Never mind the vernal equinox or visions of blooming tulips and budding leaves. May in Toronto has to be the harshest month when it comes to curb appeal, whether we’re selling our homes or simply living in them.

Gone are the snows of winter leaving our homes wearing a drab overcoat of a winter’s worth of dust and grime.  Not to mention those green doors.

In times past, it didn’t matter if your house had a pink front door, it sold for more than the asking price.  Now, buyers are being very picky.  If it’s not your home they buy, it will be one of the other 124 on the market that are just like yours — the same square footage — but $10,000. lower in price.

A year ago, it wouldn’t have mattered that buyers saw your green front door as tired and dated — but it does now.

Last year, there was always a limited inventory available. This year, the total inventory is up, which means more selection for buyers. It is important that sellers understand that they’re in a much different marketplace. Buyers can now take the time to find their dream home, instead of having to snatch up the first available place in their price range before someone else beats them to it.

So, sellers need to present their home in the best possible light … and they need to price their home accordingly, in keeping with local market conditions.

Putting on a Fresh Face

Curb appeal isn’t going to sell your property if the price, location or amenities aren’t right for the buyer, but it can help you achieve both a faster selling time and a better price in any market. When the buyers drive up and see grass a foot high, they assume the whole house isn’t well maintained.

By creating curb appeal, you create an emotional connection before the buyer even enters the home. Try to create a message about what you want the buyer to know about your house and your neighbourhood.

For example: paint the trim and the door if they’re in need of it; replace the mailbox, lighting and hardware such as door handles; clean your walk and deck; switch on exterior house and garage lights; ensure keys work smoothly in locks; add fresh mulch to the garden beds; and re-edge the beds and sidewalks.

Going Beyond Cosmetics

Some very expensive homes have very basic things wrong, such as doorknobs that are loose or not working properly. It might sound cosmetic, but the cosmetics are important. If for example, you don’t keep up with painting or staining your window trim, you’ll be needing to replace those windows soon.

It’s also important to ensure your steps are level, your sidewalk is in good shape and your trees or bushes are pruned. Those are little things that make people feel more comfortable when you’re coming into a house. If everything is clean and organized, it appears that the owners have looked after the house.

As for the green doors, taking the usual television show advice to paint your door red to create punch could be a mistake. If you have green trim around a red door, it just doesn’t work.

So figure out a great colour that complements the hues already on your home including the trim — maybe it’s green.

07: Market Value — published on April 9, 2008

Create Lasting Curb Appeal

We’re coming upon the time of year when home exterior matters most. Not only is it prime house-hunting season, which means your neighbourhood could encounter “drive-bys” from interested homebuyers, but spring is also an ideal time to get outside and enhance your house’s curb appeal. Even if you’re not planning to sell, remodeling the exterior will raise the overall value and appeal of your homr. Plus, you always want to make your neighbours jealous. And since nobody can see the beauty on the inside, it’s wise to make the outside of your house as attractive as possible.

The Land Itself:

A yard makeover is probably the easiest way to make your home more inviting. In landscaping, the obvious items are your first concerns: new trees, pruned shrubbery, and overall lawn maintenance. But don’t forget about the little details and accents that complete any yard makeover.

Flowerbeds:

Planting foliage around the perimeter of a house can serve many purposes. Adding some nature will always make your home feel more welcoming and beautiful, but it will also add colour and interest. Plus, flowerbed plantings can hide unsightly foundation lines and lets onlookers know you’ve put TLC into your home.

Planters and Window Boxes:

Flowerbeds are a simple addition to any yard makeover, but if you don’t have the time to tinker in the garden, then seasonal planters may be the easier answer. Simply place inexpensive box-planters under your front windows, add a few plants, and you’ve suddenly created a quaint feature to your exterior appearance.

Walkways:

Landscaping doesn’t just pertain to plants; it includes the entire architecture of your lawn. Think about installing some unique walkways which lead guests (and the eye) right up to your entryway. Concrete is popular, but interlocking pavers have become a popular trend that blend an old-world look with a hint of modern design.

Porch Seduction:

Entryways Invite Attention If your entryway simply consists of a concrete slab and a door, you’re not exploiting its full potential. Your front entrance says a lot about the rest of your house, so you want it to feel warm and welcoming. A porch can do a lot to pique people’s interest, so add some decking, handrails, or new stairways to lure people to your door. Also, don’t think of your front door as a barrier between you and the outside world. It’s not an obstacle to turn people away; instead think of it as a friendly passageway with which to engage your guests. Therefore, decorate it with a seasonal wreath, add a door knocker, install new hardware, or just put down a welcome mat to make any visitor feel more at home.

Beauty Is Only Skin Deep:

Spotlight Your Siding. We often talk about the importance of siding since it’s the first thing people notice about your home. Although the type of siding is a big decision, when it comes to curb appeal you also want to consider its overall appearance.

Painting:

The condition of your siding is what people notice right off the bat. So spring is a perfect time of year to re-paint. A fresh coat can make your house look brand new, and if you’re ready for a change, take advantage of this opportunity to update the colour.

Trim and Accents:

When you paint siding, don’t be afraid to get creative: not everything has to be a universal shade. Feel free to switch things up and create colour accents. For emphasis, paint the front entryway or garage door a different colour than the rest of the house. Or make your trim pop with some color contrast. And don’t forget your window shutters as well. Anything to define individual character and differentiate your place from your neighbor’s will not only help in overall appearance, it will also help make your house feel more like your home.

Watch Your Back:

Curb appeal doesn’t just lend itself to the front your house. Don’t forget that people notice what’s going on behind the scenes, as well. So extend your yard makeover into the backyard. Just by adding a vegetable garden, a privacy fence, or constructing a storage shed in addition to your garage can help to raise a couple of eyebrows, followed by a few nods of approval.

07: Market Value — published on April 7, 2008

Curb Appeal for Dummies

  1. It Starts At The Street Look at your property from the street through the eyes of a potential buyer, you will be amazed about what you see. Pay attention to detail.
  2. Driveway and Sidewalks Does your driveway and sidewalk look dingy and stained? These are large areas that can really stand out.  Oil and rust stains can be removed or lightened with pressure washing.
  3. Landscape Look at your flower beds, do they have flowers or any color at all? Some new mulch and a little TLC will help sell your home. While you have your green thumb out look at your trees. Do they look well trimmed and at least 6 feet from any part of the house?
  4. Entryway Look up, what do you see? I’ll bet you see the remnants of a once thriving spider. Look ahead, you probably see a door and hardware in need of some attention. Look down, can you even read welcome anymore on that worn out doormat? Look to the side, is the door bell light in working order?
  5. The Home (You should still have your buyer focus) Unless the home has been pressure washed in the last six months, the soffits (underneath) and fascia (facing you) are stained and covered with dirt. How is the paint? What about the area of the walls just above the dirt ? Can you see through the windows?
  6. The Rear View Let’s not forget the backyard, is the patio clean and organized? Can potential buyers see themselves having a BBQ today?

These are just a few items to get you started in preparing the outside of you house for a beneficial sale.

07: Market Value — published on April 5, 2008

Real Curb Appeal

How important is the exterior look of your property?

First impressions really do count. If the impact of your curb appeal is strong, people will want to see what is inside.

  • Cut the lawn.
  • Cut and trim the shrubs.
  • Remove dead tree limbs and other yard debris.
  • Brighten up the garden with fresh shrubs and flowers.
  • Get rid of the clutter. Put away toys and gardening equipment.
  • Touch up peeling paint on doors, siding, and trim.
  • Repair and paint the fence.
  • Fix damaged roof shingles and flashing.
  • Clean windows, replace broken panes, and fix torn screens.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts.
  • Wash the driveway and sidewalk. Patch cracks or holes.
  • Clean up the garage and shed.
  • Have the gas grill ready for use.
  • Make sure outside lights and doorbells work.

Curb Appeal truly is the key to increasing the value of your home.

07: Market Value — published on April 3, 2008

Curb Appeal by Design

Toronto Curb Appeal

Curb appeal makes or breaks a house. The first impression of your home for buyers or just for on lookers makes an enduring impression. Here is and example of a newly constructed house which is designed to exhibit curb appeal for generations to come.

07: Market Value — published on March 16, 2008

Exterior staging sets the scene

Based on the outside appearance of a home, a potential buyer decides within 30 seconds whether or not they want to go inside. Over the last couple of years, home staging has become very popular to assist in selling a home. This effort often has been proven to help the seller gain the highest possible price for their home in today’s market.

Exterior staging sets the scene for immediate buyer interest in your property. As you prepare your home for sale, increasing the Curb Appeal may help you sell your home faster and realize more.

If you employ a landscaping service already, you can ask for their advice and pay them to do the additional work. Many homeowners are sentimental with their existing landscaping. Some plants may be overgrown, uneven or in the dying stage. A fresh eye will lend an unprejudiced view of what can be done to improve the exterior.

Professional home stagers may also be able to work their magic on the outside as well as the inside. Although not as experienced at doing the actual work, they could recommend some overall ways to “freshen up” or de-clutter the landscape.

The buyer wants to dream about your house being their home, with all they desire. Just as with the inside, they need to be able to visualize what it would look like with their possessions or favorite plants around. That often means if you have lots of clutter, (i.e. overgrown plants) it will only get in the way of their vision. On the other hand, if you do not have any landscaping, you might consider adding some things to enhance curb appeal.

Let’s look at ways to tidy up overgrown plants around your exterior. Step back and view the scenery as if it’s the first time you’ve seen it. Imagine you are the prospective buyer and note what could easily seem unattractive. Invite a friend to give constructive criticism as well. You want the outside of the home to be complimented by plants, not covered by them. Shrubs and trees should be neat & well trimmed. Some may even need to be removed. Freshen up your mulch or other ground cover. New mulch can really change the look of your beds for the better.

Do your ‘flowerbeds’ have edging? Is it worn out or covered by grass? Rock edging may need to be re-stacked, metal edging may need straightened and landscaping timbers may need replacing. A little elbow grease and a small investment could make a big difference in the selling price of your house.

If you don’t have “landscaping” at all, you can still do a few things to ensure a tidy yard. Keep the grass cut; keep trash and leaves picked up. Depending on the season, a few pots of blooming plants will add a fresh touch of color, especially around the front door.

Also review the condition of the outside walls. Do your shutters need painting or replaced? Is your siding clean and in good condition? If you do not have maintenance free siding, does it need a fresh coat of paint? Is your brick or rock façade clean of mold or moss? A little power washing may be the key to polishing up the exterior walls.

As the old saying goes ‘you may need to spend money to make money.’ These tips will help protect your investment and literally clear the way for potential buyers to ‘see’ the house in the best light. Depending on if you do the work yourself or hire it done, a minimal investment could add $5,000 or more to your selling price. Most of all, it adds interest and creates the most appeal to attract buyers inside.

Don’t forget to pay attention to the back yard as well. Follow the above tips all around the house. If you live in a family oriented neighborhood, new buyers may be looking for an area to raise their kids. Back lawns are very important to these buyers. They’ll need lots of space for kids to run and play. Make sure fences are in good shape and pets are contained when the property is being shown.

The exterior of your house is the best first impression you have on potential buyers. Declutter, spruce up and make sure it looks awesome in photos used to market your property. Do not hesitate to call in professionals for un-biased opinions and expert workmanship if you need it. This often overlooked effort could help you reap many rewards and speed up the sale of your house.

07: Market Value — published on March 16, 2008

A sale for all seasons

Rain, hail, shine or snow, some real estate agents believe properties will sell no matter what the weather.

Into Toronto there’s the hockey season and baseball season and football season — a tennis season and so on. But what’s the best season for that other sport that the city thrives on – buying and selling real estate?

Agents are divided. Some say there is no point trying to buy or sell while the chill winds strip the leaves off the trees and the gardens are covered with snow. “List in the spring,” these agents say. Others hold that winter marketing gives savvy vendors an edge. “You have the buyers to yourself; there’s no competition out there,” they argue.

Avoid winter, would be my advice, especially for homes where landscaping and gardens may be a significant part of the property’s appeal.

Properties don’t look as good in winter. And there are fewer houses on the market and a lot of people concentrate on other things.

The seasonal demarcation, however, is not as strong as it used to be. Not so long ago, real estate agents took a holiday during December. Not quite the case today. The market doesn’t stop. There’s the idea put forward by a lot of agents that because there are fewer properties, it’s not a bad time to sell.

Spring is still the optimum time. Use the yardstick of the Stanley cup finals onwards as being our most active period.

If there’s no compelling reason to sell in winter it is best to defer it until March.

But you’ve got a lovely period-style home, you’re going to have less competition in January. In winter there are one or two of these properties on the market in the area; in spring there will be six to eight. People’s perception is that a house looks its best in spring, but you can create warmth and ambience in winter. If it’s a period house with fireplaces, then light the fireplaces and play soft classical music, and have some coffee percolating on the stove.
still bring a little more.

But a house that is not particularly special may struggle a little in winter. An ordinary house will still sell in winter but probably for a little less. If you’ve got a prestige home, you’ve got a better chance. The more ordinary houses tend to benefit from an increased number of buyers coming through in spring.

Apartments appear to be impervious to such seasonal influences. As long as the apartment is presented well, it doesn’t matter a bit. Just make sure the heating is working at its optimum level.

But presentation makes a huge difference no matter what the season. Small changes such as de-cluttering and rearranging furniture to give a house a makeover. In winter, staging the house can make it warm and inviting; in summer, when there’s a lot of properties on the market, it gives you the edge.

A carefully tended garden and imaginatively furnished rooms make all the difference to any house that has been languishing on the market.

But showing a house at its best during winter can be something of a challenge — just make the house as inviting and relaxing as possible.

07: Market Value — published on March 4, 2008

Market value dynamics

More Attractive = More Money

Let imagine someone offered you a chance to buy one of two houses. Both houses were built in the same year, both have the same floor plan, features, appliances, etc. Inside, both houses are identical in maintenance and features.

One house has an attractive yard and it appears well-maintained. The homeowners are obviously proud of their dwelling and it shows in the small details and care that has gone into the simplest of features, like the level green lawn. The other house has peeling paint on the trim, the white vinyl siding is dull and the driveway has a big oil stain that you have to walk around.

Now imagine that both houses have the same asking price. Which house would you buy first? Which house would you pay more for? The answer is obvious: the home with the clean and tidy exterior and attractive yard would sell faster and for more money.

Okay, now consider that the handyman special is priced at market value. How much more money could the owners of the nicer house ask? They might ask 15% or 20% more — and get it — depending on various factors. That’s a lot of money!

We provide the information to make your home appealing but you can also use it as a negotiating strategy when buying a home.