First impressions go a long way, whether on a blind date or selling a house. Curb appeal is a term used to describe the effect a home will have on a viewer as seen from the street. If you’ve placed your home on the market and the first impression a potential buyer has of your property is negative, then the odds are against that person buying the home, at least at the price you were originally asking. But there are a number of things that can be done at little or no cost that enhance a home’s curb appeal. Here are just a few.

Clear the Clutter: If there are children’s toys scattered around the yard, bits of lumber from a recent DIY project, or a 1970 Chevy Nova up on blocks in the driveway – then your home will have lost much of its curb appeal. Remove the unwanted debris from your yard. Ensure people who stop by to see your home can actually see it. Your home might be pristine inside, but if it looks like a wasteland outside, few will venture indoors to find out.

Do the Landscaping: A big part of the effect a home has on a viewer is the quality of its landscaping. If the grass is over long, if piles of fallen but not removed autumn leaves dot the yard, if out of control Pampas grass plumes block sightlines of the house from the street, you are affecting the home’s curb appeal. If you remove the clutter, also break out the trimmer and the lawn mower. If the season permits, plant some colorful flowers in beds, along driveway edgings or from hanging baskets. Splashes of red, pink and yellow bring a happy and homey quality to the image.

Exterior Lighting: Once a home comes on the market many people like to conduct a little reconnaissance mission on their own before contacting a REALTOR®. As this sort of trip normally happens after they’ve had a chance to come home from work it might take place at dusk or later. By keeping your property well lighted the area appears more home like and comforting. Keep the exterior lights on. If possible purchase low cost outdoor lights to illuminate pathways or driveways. The positive image produced will be well worth the investment.

Touch up the Paint: Speaking of low cost ways to increase curb appeal, if the siding of the home is stained with rain run-off, if the garage door paint is peeling, or if other areas of the exterior are in need of some refreshing – make the effort. Power wash the stained siding, or paint the exterior if not something that can be sprayed away. Clean the windows, repair anything that is obviously broken, or take any other step that will enhance the property’s outward appearance.

If you’re thinking about placing your home on the market, go to the sidewalk and look at your home with a critical eye. Is there something you could do to make your home look neater, brighter or more attractive? Then now is the time to take care of it, not once the ‘For Sale’ sign is on the lawn. A little effort now will ultimately pay dividends later when the home sells.