Updated: Jan 27, 2021
Just like in a job interview when the interviewer decides 3 seconds after you walk in the door whether they're going to employ you or not, a potential buyer will decide in 8 seconds whether they're interested in your house or not. And that's before they set foot inside.
We're talking kerb appeal my friends. But what is it and how do you get it?
Kerb appeal is literally what your house looks like from the kerb (NB 'curb' in this sense is American English - don't get me started!) and is fundamental in getting people TO your door, before we even start talking about getting them THROUGH your door.
More often than not, the first photo you see of a house online is the exterior shot (if it isn't, it looks like the agent is hiding something) and if that doesn't speak to you, you'll swipe on past. At this juncture I have to admit that I discounted our house immediately because I didn't like the look of it from the outside. It wasn't badly maintained but it was bland, there was nothing to draw me in, i.e. it had zero kerb appeal. It was only after there seemed to be no more houses left to look at that my mum convinced me to get past the facade, and when I looked at the inside I saw that it was actually our dream house. But I digress.
These days we're so focused on the interior of our houses that we totally forget about the exterior. Remember: selling houses is all about perception. So, if buyers see a well cared for exterior, they will assume that the interior is well kept too, which is starting off on the right foot. Obviously the reverse will apply and we don't want to give buyers any reason to start taking money off the asking price before they've even got out of their car.
So, how do you get kerb appeal?
Firstly, if you've got a gate, make sure it's fully functioning - there is nothing worse than struggling to get through a gate because it's broken or stuck. If it's rusty, give it a lick of paint and maybe change the hinges/latch. The same goes for fences - you may need to speak to neighbours of adjoining properties, but any and all fences should be fixed and given a fresh lick of paint. Having said that, it's highly likely that you painted your fences and gate in lockdown as this was up there as the number one pastime for people on furlough! If so, that's one less thing for you to do.
If you don't own a jet washer then one of your neighbours probably does so it's time to make friends. Jet washing your paths and driveway is a filthy yet satisfying job and it will make a whole world of difference to those paths that you thought had always been brown.
Then clean your windows. If your frames are PVC you can get special PVC cleaner quite cheaply that will make a big difference. Got a PVC door? Then clean that too, unless you want a change of colour - did you know that in the 21st century you can now paint a PVC door? @Frenchicpaint have a range that you can paint straight onto PVC without having to prime it (this is not an AD but it is a game changer!).
If you've got a wooden door and windows then give them a lick of paint, it really will make all the difference (@Frenchicpaint also works on wood with no priming for a quick fix). I could go on about the psychology of door colours but I'll leave that for another time, for now I'll just tell you that the most popular colours are blue, black, green, and plum.
Make sure you've got a visible door number and either a doorbell or a door knocker (your local delivery drivers will also thank you for this). Not having one or any of these things can be frustrating to a potential buyer so have a look at your door furniture (including letterbox) and see if any of it needs replacing.
If you have a front garden, then please weed it and tidy it up - buyers will have a look at the front garden whilst they're waiting for you to open the door. A quick win for any house is to add a couple of colourful pots either side of the front door (symmetry is pleasing to the eye) and maybe hanging baskets or window boxes depending on what type of property you live in. If, like me, you forget to water plants and they die, invest in artificial ones. There are some excellent artificial ones out there these days, and if they're in pots you can take them with you to the next house (DM me for tips on where to buy artificial plants and flowers).
And lastly, if they're out front, move your wheelie bins please . If there's really nowhere to put them out of sight, then ask a neighbour if you can hide them in their garage/garden. We know everyone has them, but we really don't need to see them.
I would advise doing all these things before you put the house on the market. People will often do a sneaky drive-by before they arrange a formal viewing, so it will pay to be ahead of the game. Buying a couple of tins of paint and spending a couple of hours sprucing up the front of the property really will make all the difference and will get people through the door. Anything you don't do will be seen as 'work' by the buyer and they will reduce their offer accordingly.
Nothing I've said here will come as a surprise to anyone and in an ideal world, we'd all be doing the above on a yearly basis to maintain the value and the kerb appeal of our property, but that's not real life is it?