They say that first impressions are everything. In the world of real estate investing, that is certainly the case. Regardless of whether you are selling or renting, people will develop an opinion within the first few minutes of pulling up to your property. Updating the interior is always important, but if you completely neglect the outside you may lose interest before anyone opens the front door. There are exterior items that may not seem like much to you, but can have a huge impact on the way your property is presented. If you don’t think that people notice what you have done with the front of the house, you are greatly undervaluing the importance of first impressions. Be sure to make a lasting first impression and focus your attention on the curb appeal of your property.
Step 1: Advertising
At CT Homes, this process begins as soon as we purchase a property. We immediately put a for sale sign, as well as a banner advertising “CT Homes Renovation in Progress!”. This can not only be a great tool to help your property sell faster, it can also help to create credibility in your community by increasing visibility on your work. With these two important advertising pieces in place, we then turn out attention to the front yard.
Step 2: Landscaping
You can do great work to the physical property, but the yard and landscaping is a mess nobody will notice. When it comes to landscaping, you don’t need the yard to look like a golf course, but it can’t look like a swamp either. Getting a plush green yard may be difficult, but it is not hard to keep it cut fresh in the spring and summer. As for landscaping, you should trim or remove any overgrown bushes or hedges that are immediately around the property. A nice bed of fresh mulch is a nice touch that won’t break the bank. For rental properties, you should try to make things as simple as possible. It is still your responsibility to take care of the yard and if there are a dozen bushes or hedges this can get time consuming or expensive to take care of.
Step 3: The Front Door
The front door is one of the biggest items that people notice about a property. In fact, the front door adds a considerable amount of curb appeal. It is one of those things that homeowners do only when they have to, but it is vital if you are looking to make an impression. There are plenty of new front doors that provide a mix of safety and style. If the door is old or beat up, it will reflect poorly on the rest of the house. Changing just the front door alone can make the rest of the exterior seem new and fresh. This will not be a cheap fix, but it is not overly expensive either. It is highly recommended to have this done by someone that knows what they are doing. While this may seem easy enough, you could waste a whole day trying to get it right.
Step 4: Physical Exterior
The physical exterior of the property is also very important. Regardless if you have brick, wood or vinyl siding, you need to make sure it is clean and updated. Cleaning vinyl siding is as easy as renting a power washer for a few hours and getting off all the dirt and grime. If you haven’t done this in a while, or ever, you will be surprised at just how dirty the exterior is. Freshening up wood can be a bit more difficult, but important nonetheless. If there are any rotting areas, you need to get them replaced. If a buyer notices one rotted area, they will immediately assume there are others. If the wood is in good shape, but there are chips, you need to add a fresh coat of paint. Even though this may not have been in your budget, this is one of the areas where spending money should get you a greater return.
Step 5: The Roof
The final piece of the exterior is the roof. This is one of the top five things that most buyers look for. If the roof is noticeably poor, it will decrease the appeal and most likely force you to keep your rent below market value. A new roof certainly isn’t cheap, but it does offer great return on your money. Not only are you protecting your asset, but a new roof makes your house stand out from the others in the neighborhood. A new roof coupled with small upgrades to the shutters or other areas will have buyers wanting to bust down the door and get into the property.
Step 6: A Second Opinion
If you’re struggling figuring out what needs to be fixed, it is always a good idea to have someone who is not in the business pull up to your property and write down the first five things they notice. Especially if you live in the property or have worked on the house and been there for months, you may not even realize what other people see. Everything from chipped paint on a wooden fence to a beat up garage door is registered with the public. Start with the items that are farthest from the house and work your way in. Things like weeds in the cracks of the driveway or rusted handles in the garage door are not major items, but certainly noticeable. You may have never thought twice about them, but other people may. Get a neutral, second opinion and start your work from the outside in.
Upgrading the exterior can quickly add up. If you are considering flipping, you need to budget for exterior work. If you don’t, everything you do inside may go unnoticed. If you don’t have a big budget, you can always find money to buy weed spray for the driveway, a few bags of mulch or a can of exterior paint for the garage door. First impressions make a huge difference with buyers and renters. What you do with the exterior has a bigger impact than you may think.