By Phyllis Harb
1. Trim shrubs and trees in the front yard; a homebuyer should be able to see your home's architectural features (such as that beautiful picture window). Tidy up your yard; put away hoses, trash cans, etc.
2. Remove the screen door (if any), dress up the front porch with a plant (if there's room), and wash your windows and your screens.
3. If the mailbox is visible from the curb, ensure that it is attractive.
4. Repaint any peeling trim or exterior paint.
5. Define the approach: Add a stone walkway or path leading to the house, or define it with plants or flowers.
6. Ensure any automatic lights along the house and walkways light up when it gets dark.
7. When visible from the street, replace that tired looking garage door with a new one. Remember to keep the door style in tune with the home's architectural style.
8. Make sure the driveway isn't cracked. If so consider repair or resurface.
9. Add details such as shutters and decorative moldings. Make boring windows come alive and (depending on your home's style) define the architecture of your house with shutters or ironwork.
10. Take one more close look at the exterior of the property from a buyer's perspective. Imagine the real estate professional at your front door fumbling with the lockbox as the homebuyers are looking at your neighborhood--what do they see? Is there trash in the street? Is the neighbor's lawn overgrown?
I offer my clients a complimentary home staging consultation. Too often, I meet with home sellers who are spending their time and money frivolously by either making wrong material or color selections, or other updates that won't add to their bottom line. The goal is to only spend money on repairs and improvements that will offer you a good return on your investment (considering your time and money spent).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Phyllis Harb is a real estate professional with Dickson Podley REALTORS®, based in La Canada, Calif. She has 20 years of combined real estate and mortgage banking experience. You can visit her blog, Phyllis' LA Real Estate Blog, at http://los-angeles-real-estate-blog.com.