We often talk about the importance of ‘street appeal’. The first real-life look a potential buyer get of your house is a critically important part of the love story that happens between a buyer and his house. (Cue Roberta Flack singing “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.”) It’s in this moment that the sale begins and, according to many house stylists, it is here that your house will either sink or swim.

Upgrading the façade of your house can be the winning ticket in the real estate lottery. Yet, as far as changes go we rarely move beyond adding a wicker chair and a few potted plants. How can we make love at first sight actually happen? Here are a few suggestions.

You don’t have to break the bank.

  • Paint: If you want your house to WOW the buyers, you need not take out a new loan. A new coat of paint on the cladding and some attention to the shutters and doors can help. According to selling agents, presenting a fresh new face can be extraordinarily helpful. First of all, new paint can make your house compare well with the other houses on the block, and everybody wants to live in the nicest house in the neighbourhood.

Secondly, particularly if you are marketing to the conservative millennial group, the new paint sends a message to the buyer saying, the rest of the house is well-maintained and not likely to surprise buyers with big bills in the near future. This is a very big deal to this market segment. Bright and fresh works to the seller’s advantage.

  • Fence it: A white picket fence doesn’t work for every house and enclosing the entire space may be cost prohibitive, but there’s no rule that says you can’t simply add a snippet of fencing on either side of a gate to suggest a grand entry. A couple of brick columns with a gate between create a certain aura of mystery and it’s certainly an attention grabber. When you add a few flowers, you’ve got a picture perfect for a storybook.

Doll it Up: Improving the landscaping at the front of your property should be a priority as you prepare to sell your place. This is a great time to splurge and have a local landscape or lawn-services provider come and give the place a springtime clean-up. Have them trim the shrubs and trees, edge the lawn, and put down fresh mulch. (A few colourful flowers would also make a nice welcoming gesture.)

Go Ahead – Build a Portico

House stylists tell us that houses that present themselves as flat-fronted or without character don’t do much to excite buyers. Adding a bit of architectural interest is a great way to change this. This doesn’t mean you have to install Victorian Gingerbread (particularly if your place is mid-century modern) but something architecturally appropriate. Your home stylist will know just what to do.

On the other hand, before you totally renovate the family room into a ‘man cave’ consider using that same cash to build a portico. If you thought only mansions have porticos – or is it portica? – you’d be wrong. We’re talking about a gable of roof to cover the front entry door(s) with a column or two to hold it in place. It could upgrade the looks of your house in a very big way.

Making the façade of your house look like the beginning of a wonderful adventure can capture the attention and the hearts of prospective buyers. Remember, the decision to buy a house is made quickly – within seconds, actually — and it always involves the emotional centre of the brain. Calling up warm and comforting memories is a great way to engage the buyer.

If you need help with ideas to upgrade your house’s handshake, ask your house stylist to make a few suggestions. The key is to spend your renovation budget where it will do the most good – that first impression might be your best bet.

Image courtesy of Scyon Linea weatherboard.

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