You can only make one first impression, so it had better be a good one. That truism is equally valid if going for a job interview, meeting a client for the first time, or trying to impress a potential buyer for your home. When preparing a home for sale it’s important to showcase your property in its very best light. Often professional stagers will energize the interior of the home with innovative decorating ideas, furniture rearrangements and other simple methods to maximize the impact of the property.

But the exterior of a home is equally important, or even more important according to some schools of real estate thought. A home can be immaculate inside, but if the yard if littered with debris it might discourage any drive-by potential client from stopping by. But as with interior staging, sprucing up a home’s outside visage doesn’t have to be complex, back breaking or expensive. Here are a few simple ways to add a little zip to your property’s visual first impression.

Pick It Up: As mentioned earlier few things are as big a turn-off to house shoppers then seeing a cluttered or overgrown yard. In the spring and summer make sure to keep the lawn mowed and raked. In the fall bag up the leaves, pick up the wind-blown broken branches, trim the hedge and ensure there are no abandoned toys or litter dotting the lawn. This concerted effort to police the property is especially important on the side of the home facing the road, but don’t neglect the back yard either. The positive impression a pristine front yard generates will be wasted if the backyard is left to become a wasteland, especially if the inquisitive shopper takes the time to peek over the fence before they knock on the door.

A Tidy Garden: If you’re both a home owner and a gardener the odds are very good you love getting out there digging in the dirt and making things grow. If you are also thinking about selling your property, the creative energy you’re spending in the garden can be used to enhance your home’s appearance. Ideally this effort will speed up the process of selling your house to the next avid gardener. When doing your yard work keep the flower beds and planting areas free of weeds. Turn the soil regularly as the sight of rich brown soil dotted with lush and healthy plants, whether they are flowers, shrubs or vegetables, is like a form of visual catnip to a house hunter with a Greenthumb. Make sure the edging along the driveway and around any flower beds or paths are also trimmed and orderly. This effort helps generate an efficient and appealing appearance.

Safe & Happy Garden: While we’re in the garden, let’s make sure it’s a safe place if the property is going to be visited by potential buyers. If you have berry patches or other thorny plants that could snag a visitor ensure they are trimmed back to avoid scratching them. The use of mulch to enhance the appearance of the flower beds are another easy visual enhancer. Yet another way to make the exterior of a home more appealing, without having to layout an entirely new garden, is to make use of hanging baskets or other flowering container gardening techniques. They may be temporary, but they can really add color and charm to the outside of any home.

Appeal of Fresh Paint: Be honest, does the exterior of your home need a little touch up? If it does a couple of gallons of paint and a little elbow grease can really freshen the appearance of any home. Perhaps the entire house doesn’t need to be repainted. Updating the color of the trim, or brightening the appearance of the front door or porch if your home has one, can also energize that all important first impression. Even something as simple as updating the hardware on the front door, if it has become weathered and tarnished, can enhance the look of a home.

Bits & Pieces: Enhancing a home’s curb appeal is something that is unique to each and every property. A few random ideas include replacing the home’s street numbers, especially if they are aged, missing, broken or just hard to read. Another idea is to install exterior lighting along the driveway or garden pathways to improve the home’s night time appearance. The use of solar powered lighting systems will eliminate the need to install wiring and they can be removed easily if you want to take them once the sale completes. Ensure all the windows are cleaned and gleaming, and that any leaves or debris has been cleared from the gutters. If your home has vinyl siding a good cleaning with a hose and brush can dramatically improve its appearance.

We could go on but you get the idea. When a property is up for sale it’s as important to look after its exterior as it is to maintain its interior. Each home is different and will require its own unique enhancement efforts. Look around your home, see what needs doing and dive in. The efforts you make today will affect the sale price tomorrow.