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You know how they say first impressions last? Or how you will never get a second chance to make a first impression? This is true of your house as you’re trying to sell it too. If you are expecting a buyer to make a purchase on your property, it’s important to make sure it looks worth the mortgage payments. You can even boost your home’s value with just a few aesthetic tweaks. And these can be the difference, especially in a competitive seller’s market. Check out some information below on what buyers see as “curb appeal” and how to get it.

The Basics

Curb appeal refers to the general visual attractiveness of the exterior of a house as seen from the street. Real estate agents cite this as an important way to attract potential buyers. Factors of curb appeal include your home’s exterior, front entry, yard, driveway, sidewalk and overall appearance. To properly evaluate your home’s current curb appeal, it’s important to walk around or drive by your property as if you are a buyer and see what they will see. You could also ask a friend or a real estate agent to do the same and give you their impression.

Some Affordable Changes

If you’re not happy with your current curb appeal, there are some easy and affordable things you can do to improve it.

You can use a hose or a power washer to get rid of excess dirt on the sidewalk, driveway, deck, walkway and exterior of your home. You may want to dress up your front door with a blast of color, a wreath or a doormat to make it more inviting. You may want to consider adding fresh molding to the sides and top of the doorway and polishing or replacing the door’s hardware.

Adding shutters and trims can be a nice touch without breaking the bank. Their added bonus is that they control light and ventilation all while providing extra security. You can also address the mailbox at this time, ensuring it matches the home’s look. Either update yours with flowers and plants, or replace the current one with a sturdy and attractive option.

To improve the yard, it can be a good idea to start by cutting back trees and bushes that obstruct the view of your home’s best features. You also may want to prune your garden and pull weeds. You can focus on the lawn and any deck or patio area. Container gardens can add welcoming and colorful infusions and are available for purchase ready-made from garden centers.

If You Have More Money to Invest

While those low-cost changes can make a real difference, you can also consider making a bigger change if your budget allows. You can install effective and attractive outdoor lighting or replace shoddy fixtures. Newer models often have indoor time control.

When it comes to the garden, there are plenty of options: from renewing planter beds and upgrading old borders to stone or cast-concrete systems to planting new vegetation or flowers as part of a landscaping overhaul. You may even consider adding arbors, garden gates, or decorative fence panel sections and painting or staining them to colors that align with the home.

Speaking of paint, redoing your whole exterior may seem like a serious project but it can make your home look a lot fresher. It’s a good idea to also consider replacing broken gutters and edging the driveway if you haven’t in a while.

While curb appeal isn’t always as easy to measure as other factors like square footage or number of bedrooms, it still can play an important role in the home sale process. It’s a good idea to take some time to focus on increasing your property’s curb appeal at whatever levels you can afford. Then, watch the dramatic difference these can make on both your property’s appearance and value.

As you sell your house, don’t overspend to increase curb appeal — consult with your listing agent on what makes the most sense for your neighborhood and housing market. Selling your home can impact your credit as well, so don’t go into debt right before your home sale and put your credit in a tail-spin. You can check your credit scores for free on Credit.com to see where you stand.

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