First Impressions: Maximize Your Curb Appeal

First Impressions: Maximize Your Curb Appeal

Just recently, I went to price a home that had a large hedge in front of the house that the owner had been growing for years, hoping to get privacy from the neighbours. That plan was successful, but at the same time, the house started to look unwelcoming and an interested party could no longer see the large windows on the main floor. I suggested that before we list the home, we bite the bullet and cut down some of the hedge growth to possibly 6 feet (it was at least 12 feet high at the time).

Here are two photos of my home. The first when we bought and the second after a year of owning the house… Ten years later, it looks even more inviting.

Castle Frank Before
Castle Frank Before
Castle Frank After
Castle Frank After

First impression is a strong decisive factor not only for people who are on a first date or on a job interview but also when it comes to selling homes. The curb appeal of your home can either make potential buyers fall in love with the home or reject it before they even open the front door. As Luanne Kanevra, founder and principal designer of katu design, pointed out,

I have helped homeowners in the past solely with the outside of their home. One client had done thousands of dollars in renos on the inside and then decided to sell. After six months on the market they called my company. I couldn’t believe the outside of their house when I drove up. They told me they had done so much inside they felt it didn’t matter what the outside looked like! Even after six months on the market it took a while to convince them buyers were just driving by and we had to make some changes.

Many home seekers do an initial drive-by before scheduling a showing and narrow down their prospects to the homes that made a good impression on them. So, if you are selling your home, focusing on the way it looks from the street is the first step towards getting a good deal. Even though this might require more than trimming the hedges and planting a few flowers, improving the curb appeal of your home will improve your position as a seller.

Exterior Facelift

Front by one2c900d 2
Front by one2c900d

The first rule of improving curb appeal is to remove and fix everything outdated or dilapidated. If the paint on your home is faded or chipping off, you should give it a fresh new look. The same goes for doors, siding, and windows. Luanne recommended,

One of the most common things I have my homeowners do is paint the front door a bold colour. Quite often I find the front door is drab or the same colour as the surrounding trim. You want the door to attract positive attention, to draw the buyer’s eye and be a focal point.

You can combine colours of walls, doors, siding, and windows to create a bright welcoming look. When choosing the colour, try to go for a modern look like tan trim on a red brick house rather than white. Do not forget about the windows because, as they say, they are the eyes to the house. Clean them, give the frames a fresh new layer of paint, and install new window boxes with flowers that match your home’s architectural style.

The Tortoise Cat at the Red Door by ECP
The Tortoise Cat at the Red Door by ECP

You might also want to add a few new interesting features such as a new door knob, house number, or mail box. These features provide subtle enhancements that help to improve the home’s overall look. As Luanne advised,

Buy a new door mat. The largest that will fit your space and not the cheapest one, one that suits the value of the home. It’s a welcome mat, make sure it is welcoming.

Of course, everything should be in pristine condition. Ensure that there are not any cracks or rotting material. Repair and clean gutters, check that the roof is in good condition without any loose or missing shingles. If you have a patio on the front side of your house, you might consider investing in new furniture and decorations. A potential buyer should be able to picture himself or herself sitting on the porch, having a morning coffee or relaxing with the family. Ensure that porch railings are in good condition because shabby railings are dangerous and might discourage potential buyers.

Front Porch Sanctuary by Rhonda Flemming Hayes
Front Porch Sanctuary by Rhonda

According to a 2014 survey conducted by Remodelling Magazine in conjunction with the U.S. National Association of Realtors, seven of the top ten home improvements with the highest return on investment were exterior replacements. A new steel entry door will return almost 97 per cent of its cost and a new wooden deck will recoup approximately 87 per cent of the expenses.


The Calm Following The Storm by Matt
The Calm Following The Storm by Matt

If you pass sports equipment, garden tools, toys, or other clutter in your front yard every day, you might have gotten used to it and you might not notice anymore. But potential homebuyers spot this kind of clutter at first sight and are repulsed by it. So you should have a good look at your house from the street and get rid of anything that stands out and detracts from the curb appeal. As Luanne suggested,

Seeing the house in a picture makes it easier to be objective – are there overgrown hedges or shrubs that are too large for the space. Is the walk neat, is the porch inviting. The front of the house should always be attended at any time of the year; whether it means mowing the lawn or shovelling snow.

Buyers won’t spot attractive architectural of your house if all they can see is clutter. Even garbage cans should be in a spot that is not visible from the street. In addition to keeping your front yard clean of personal items, you should also ensure that your pet didn’t leave any mess. When buyers walk to the front door with good first impressions, they are less likely to notice minor flaws inside.


Government Road by Taber Andrew Bain
Government Road by Taber Andrew Bain

A well-maintained garden sends a clear message that you take care of the house. Studies in Canada and the U.S. suggest that landscaping can add anywhere from 4 per cent to 15 per cent to the value of your home. Landscaping helps create a good first impression of your property and might attract potential buyers to your home. Mow the lawn, pull weeds, trim hedges, and cut away large tree branches that might block the view from the street. Remove any dead or discarded foliage and add a fresh layer of mulch. You should also add some colour to your yard and fill empty spaces with new flowers.

Be cautious and keep your front yard simple and easy to maintain so that the buyer is not frightened by a garden that requires hours of demanding maintenance. Luanne noted,

When selling a house one should always stand on the street and take a picture of the front of the house from a couple of angles. This gives a seller a better idea of how a buyer will see their home. When we look at our own homes we overlook some things and look more at the things we like.

Landscaping is also a good way to block unwanted scenery from the neighbourhood. It is always better to look at trees and hedges than tall commercial buildings. Toronto buyers like tall shrubs that accent and frame interesting features of the house and yard. On the other and, overgrown landscaping and unkempt bushes in front of your house will distract buyers and hide the nice features you would like potential buyers to see.


White Picket Fence by Lexy 5by5
White Picket Fence by Lexy 5by5

Installing a new fence or repairing an old one is an effective way to increase your house’s curb appeal. Many people either don’t have or neglect their fence and don’t realize all the benefits that a well-kept fence has, especially in the eyes of potential buyers. You don’t have to build a fortress that hides everything potential buyers would like on your house but rather a small, tasteful boundary between the street and your private space. Not only does this make your house look more secure, but it might also make the front yard seem larger and create an inviting entrance to your property.

Outdoor Lighting

Garden Lighting by Crinklecrankle com
Garden Lighting by Crinklecrankle com

Outdoor lighting is another feature that has a huge impact on your home’s curb appeal. You can use it to highlight the ornamental features of your home as well as your garden. A nicely illuminated garden can set a pleasant atmosphere that everyone likes. Furthermore, it provides safety and security, especially in winter. Many Toronto homebuyers drive by in the late afternoon after they return from work and they tend to return to the homes that are well illuminated and make them feel secure.


Glenfield Ct  Front by KairosPhotography
Glenfield Ct Front by KairosPhotography

You might have a beautiful new house but an old, cracked driveway full of potholes will make the home look significantly older and even neglected. The driveway is one of those things that potential buyers notice first and that has a huge influence on their overall impression of the house. So, if you want to attract as many buyers as possible and sell your house for a better price, you should definitely add repaving your old driveway to your to-do list.

Plus, you can give your driveway a fresh, attractive look by installing a border alongside it. The edging can be either at the same level as the driveway or elevated, which prevents people from driving onto your lawn. The edging can be made of different materials such as bricks, pavers, or stone and you can add different colours and decorative designs.

Title photo by Kendyl Young


2 Replies to “First Impressions: Maximize Your Curb Appeal”

  1. I love the style from the Castle Frank after 😉 Looks so lovely and nature.
    Our style in Austria, about the house we live is a Little bit different .. we have the garden behind the house, that nobody can see our small green grass in the front!
    Nice day Tanja

    1. We also have wonderful back yards here and you can see ours if you go to my Facebook page…I love gardens of any kind…

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