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Add Curb Appeal to Your Home

Some people call it "window dressing" but adding visual appeal to the exterior of a home can work wonders for both Buyers and Sellers.

When selling a home, often it's how well it shows on the outside that determines whether the inside ever gets seen. The outside of a home tells a potential Buyer a lot about what they might find inside. If the driveway is cracked, shutters are broken, the paint is chipping, grass and flowerbeds are overgrown, few Buyers will be attracted. How well a home shows will also influence the final sale price.

A fresh coat of paint, minor repairs, sparkling windows, a wreath at the door or a bright border of flowers may be all that is needed to create some quick curb appeal. Investing just a few hundred dollars on simple fix-ups can increase the value of a home by several times that amount.

Making a home look more attractive doesn't always require major improvements. Sellers shouldn't go overboard in major repairs, landscaping and decorating, as most prospective Buyers will take major faults like an old roof or windows that need replacing into account when they submit their offer.

Imagination, not money, is the key to simple fix-ups. Certainly a new railing or new front porch might add a lot of curb appeal but so will a couple of wicker chairs and potted flowers by the front door - at a much lower cost.

Repair any minor damage yourself
Things like replacing a few roof shingles, repairing loose hinges on windows and doors, fixing storm doors and window screens, caulking window exteriors, cleaning and repairing siding and other structural flaws are all easy to do. Home improvement centres are a good place to go for advice.

Clean up the yard
Mow the lawn, trim the hedges, weed the flower beds, get rid of dead trees and shrubs and broken lawn furniture. Shovel the walk and driveway in winter and always rake the yard before winter sets in.

Get rid of clutter
If you have yard construction debris piled up along the side of the house or elsewhere, get rid of it. The exterior should be as uncluttered in appearance as the interior. This includes cleaning out the garage - a major breeder of clutter. Be ruthless. If you haven't used something in a year, give it to charity or recycle it.

Spruce up siding
Before rushing to paint siding, try washing it. For painted wood siding and aluminum siding, use a solution of one cup strong detergent to one quart chlorine bleach in three gallons of water. Be sure to wear rubber gloves, goggles and other protective gear. Work from the bottom up and rinse thoroughly. To clean vinyl siding, hose it down, sponge it with a mild liquid detergent then rinse.

Brighten up with paint
A simple paint job can do wonders for the exterior of a home. To make a low house look more graceful and tall from the curb, emphasize it's vertical features by painting elements such as doors, shutters and corner trim in a colour that contrasts with the siding material A tall house can look more compact by using a contrasting paint colour on windowsills and facia boards or by painting it a dark colour - provided the roof is also dark.

Flower power
Well-placed flowers, trees and shrubs can really make the outside of a home look inviting. Attractive landscaping can also increase the value of a home by as much as 10 per cent. Even without major landscaping, flowers can make a yard look colourful and pleasant. Plant flowers in garden beds, hang them from railings and porch ceilings or add flower boxes to windowsills.

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