You’re putting your house on the market, and you’ve done all the right things. Cleared away clutter with multiple trips to the thrift store. De-personalized your space by bidding a temporary adieu to photos of Great Aunt Mildred and Grandpa Doug. Repainted the trendy tangerine family room a neutral off-white… what were you thinking? Now everything is set. Or is it? Don’t forget that to sell your home, you need to get people through the front door. That’s where curb appeal comes in.

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If your home is inviting on the outside, prospective buyers are more likely to step inside. Once there, they’ll be hooked by the natural lighting, multiple closets and smell of fresh-baked cookies. No one said you had to play fair.

1. Clean Sweep

Start with a clean palette. Before doing any other work, fix up your home’s exterior. Power wash the sides. Make windows sparkle. Inspect gutters, shutters and roofing materials, and fix anything that’s loose. If you’ve been blessed by snow, clear the sidewalk and driveway. Can’t have potential purchasers falling flat on their backs. Wet autumn leaves can be a slippery danger, too, so grab your rake and clear a path.

2. Hide Away

You know how to de-cluttered your home’s interior? Try giving the exterior the same treatment. Conceal anything that doesn’t add to the house’s charm. Stash the hose and other tools. Get your kids to put away the lawn toys. Limit porch and lawn furniture. Even if you used the snow shovel that morning, stow it. Pretend that neighborhood elves cleared your walk. Here’s the tricky part: Make sure whatever you put away doesn’t create disorder inside.

3. Sow the Seeds

Landscape like crazy. You don’t need professionals to design topiary or a delightful English garden. Repair bare patches on your lawn by laying fresh sod. Be ruthless: rip out and replace droopy and unsightly shrubs and plants. Add colorful seasonal flowers in pots or beds, such as early bloomers in the spring, summer lilacs and lilies, or fall roses and Chrysanthemums. Hardy pansies will show visitors smiling little faces even during winter.

4. Take It to the Front

Cast a discerning eye on your home’s important entry. Replace a worn-out front door. This won’t just boost curb appeal; it’ll also affect your heating bills. An old door that fits poorly or has no insulation can be responsible for 20 percent of heating or cooling that escapes from your home. You — and then your buyer — pay for that loss. Seal up gaps with a handsome new door.

5. By the Numbers

Add large, attractive house numbers. This works on a number of levels. Potential buyers and real estate agents won’t have trouble locating your home. Knock wood: Big digits help emergency vehicles find addresses. And new numbers just look pretty. Use vinyl decals that install in a matter of minutes.

6. Show Them the Door

While we’re on the subject of entryways to the home, if your garage door is outdated, broken or just really unattractive, replace it. Sure, it’ll cost a few — or several — bucks, but it makes a great impact on your home’s exterior. And bonus! You get a significant return on your investment. In 2016, the average home seller recouped more than 90 percent of the initial outlay.

7. I Can Hear the Bells

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This is small but important: make sure your doorbell rings. You have a doorbell, right? You don’t want real estate agents with clients in tow pointlessly pushing a silent bell… or banging on the door until they get your attention. A new doorbell doesn’t cost much and adds to the welcome enormously.

8. Welcome With Open Arms

This is also a modest but meaningful change: Buy a new doormat. Go crazy and lay one out that says, “Welcome.” That’s not too obvious, is it? Splurge by replacing mats at both front and back doors.

9. Have a Seat

If you have a front porch, create a lovely scenario by adding homey furniture. A few nice pieces let would-be buyers imagine themselves sitting on the porch after a long day, sipping lemonade, mint juleps or icy cold beer. If you already have porch chairs, spiff them up so they’re clean and sturdy. Imagine potential buyers taking seats… and then rising with dirt all over their pants. Way to make a first impression. If your back yard is large enough, stage an attractive scene there, too.

 

The importance of curb appeal can’t be overstated. Most folks actually need to set foot inside before they seriously consider buying a house. They’ll never see all your home has to offer if they don’t cross the threshold. Spending some time and money to polish up the ol’ homestead will help you get top dollar.

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