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 compliments the hues already on your home including the trim -- maybe it's green.
See the Curb Appeals blog »
Curb Appeal Rules
Make that initial glimpse memorable.
For a fresh perspective on the value of your home, walk across the street, turn around and take a good look. Ask yourself, "Does my house have curb appeal?" Does your home look attractive, welcoming and well maintained at first glance? What could you do to make it look better?
Make a list of ways to enhance the positive and eliminate the negative. If you have a nice walkway, accentuate it with flowers or lanterns. If the first thing a visitor sees is your big wide garage, try to guide their eyes into beautiful front yard landscaping, or paint your front door red to guide the eye there. Nothing adds value more than those things that make people say "looking good".
Take a digital photo of your home and look at it in black and white. When the color is removed, the truth comes out. That is where you see the cracks, the warts and the glaring flaws.
Always keep things clean and tidy. And talk to your neighbours because curb appeal doesn't stop at your property line. Your home will be more valuable if you live in a place where everyone pays attention to appearance.
Host a neighborhood cleanup party. Compete with neighbours to see who can do the best job of making their home look better. By adding curb appeal to your home and your neighbours homes, you can boost property values all over the neighbourhood.