Curb Appeal: What It Really Is, and Why It Matters

A great-looking yard and exterior help attract potential buyers, but today’s sellers need to take it a step further.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Let’s face it, first impressions matter. We care about how we dress for a job interview, and we spend extra time in front of the mirror before that first date. When it comes to selling a home, first impressions matter, too.

The term “curb appeal” derives from real estate sales and home design. For years, buyers have formed their first impressions of homes while standing in the street or sitting inside the car, just beyond the curb. Before the advent of text messaging and smartphones, a buyer would get a phone call or fax from their agent about a new listing. The initial drive-by would determine whether or not they would go for an actual showing.

To get that buyer in the door, the seller spent hours, even days, seeding new grass and planting flowers, painting their front door, mulching, weeding and cleaning up the yard. If the home didn’t appeal from the curb, buyers moved on to the next house. Curb appeal was always the single most important piece of the home sale puzzle.

Expanded appeal

Today, curb appeal still matters — but it matters differently. Almost every buyer forms their first impression from a home’s online photos.

Instead of driving to your home, buyers will scroll through pictures of both the outside and the inside, before ever stepping foot inside. What’s more, they may never come to see it if they don’t like what they see online.

While the exterior of your home should be high on your priority list, it is most valuable only when the buyer walks up or drives by. But they may not ever get that far.

The interior also needs to show your home in its best possible light, because Web appeal has become the new curb appeal. And if your home doesn’t photograph well — either because you didn’t have it professionally shot, didn’t post high-resolution photos, or you haven’t taken the time to prep it — then curb appeal won’t even make a difference.

What sellers should do

Sellers need to spend ample time preparing the inside of their home and getting great photos, so buyers will form the best possible impression.

The downside for sellers is that they have to work so much harder than they did just 15 years ago. In our ever-more-visual society, buyers make immediate judgments about a home within moments of clicking on the new listing on their smartphone.

Sellers only have one chance to make a good impression. The home still needs to look good from the curb — but to get the buyers there in person, it needs to look great on the Web.

Posted by Brendan Desimone on Zillow

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