…..are EVERYTHING. Researchers say when we meet someone new, we have about 3 seconds to make an impression – good or bad. So, all the platitudes about you can’t judge a book by its cover, though true, don’t always matter. So what does this have to do with Hometrends?

As a realtor who works with everything from first-time homebuyers/millennials to high-level relocation clients and international clients looking for a home in the two to eight million dollars segment, I can tell you that I’ve had clients who, when we drive up to the property we’re set to tour, say “I’m not interested, it’s not my style.” Or, “I hate red brick.”. Or “It looks old.”. Getting the picture?

When I go to a listing appointment, I get out of my car and go to the opposite side of the street and take a picture (or several) so I can see objectively what buyers will see. At some point during the meeting, I take the Sellers outside to do the same thing. It’s often eye-opening.

Curb appeal isn’t brain science. Almost anyone can take a look and see what could be done to enhance the first impression of their home. Here’s a list to ponder:Paint! If your home is virtually any shade of blue, yellow, green or orange, paint it. Off-white or white or grays are universally pleasing. The trim should be a contrast. For example, if your exterior is a light gray, use charcoal for trim . If medium gray, go white. If it’s off-white, use a warm gray. If it’s start white, you can use charcoal or black.

Front Door. It’s the ENTRANCE to your home, people! Most people never really look at their front doors. If it’s stained, it’s probably fading and needs to be re-stained or painted. If it’s painted, repaint it unless it’s been repainted within the past year. Use glossy paint! And go buy new hardware unless yours is stellar, antique or so classic it would be criminal to change it. In the U.S. we’ve been very traditional with front doors; but modern homes being built are using steel with glass and beautiful handles. In Europe they’re not afraid of color and I particularly love the French Blue doors in France.

As you look at these, try to take a minute with each one and see how it makes you FEEL.

Address Numbers. You can get beautiful brushed steel that affixes to your exterior and is highly visible from the street. Tile numbers are beautiful as well, but you can’t see them. I saw my daughter’s new address numbers on her 1929 historical home and was so envious that I rushed out to duplicate the look. It looks classy!

Windows. From the street we won’t see any damage, but we can ascertain whether they are very old. No one likes to buy a home knowing they’re going to have to change this feature, and there are gorgeous, efficient options that are not crazy-expensive. It’s an investment that I’d make. More than that, I have ALL my listings’ windows cleaned inside and out. And even though I’m not selling our home, I have windows cleaned twice a year. It’s like I suddenly have perfect vision of the outside!!

Landscaping. This word scares Sellers to death because it sounds expensive. So let’s break it down. If you have grass, water it for goodness sake! It needs to be green, green, green. And mowed at least once a week, even if you are no longer living there. Hopefully you have a magnificent tree in the front yard, but if not, you need to make sure the visual is of manicured flower beds and a magazine photo-ready porch. Scale your flower beds (which do not have to be rectangular – a soft “s” curve is interesting and expensive looking). Put a green plant in the back that will not grow into a shrub and buy enough that when planted they fill that back row entirely (IF you’re selling – otherwise, you can let them grow into the space). Thee next layer is flowers and it takes 2-3x more than you think it does to (a) show up on a photo, which is what buyers see first, and (b) to not look like patchwork with color, soil, color, coil. Finish off with dark mulch. I had a client/friend who asked me to sell their home and help them buy the next home. Their front beds were empty (hey, he works long hours and travels and she’s raising twins). No time to get the planting above done so I told them to simply buy 5 bags of dark mulch and spread it corner to corner in the beds. It didn’t have the effect that plants/flowers would, but it actually made a beautiful picture!

This home has a design challenge – you can’t see the front door! However, their amazing use of colorful landscaping more than makes up for it.

These are the basics. Different style houses need different things. One luxury homeowner had his home listed at over $3mm and it wasn’t showing well at all. No offers for over a year! We advised him to paint the red brick (which is out in Dallas) a neutral off white and to stage the living room, dining room, and master bedroom and POOF!, it sold. There’s a home in my neighborhood that added an entire second floor and it looks fabulous…..BUT I think the white windows are begging for black shutters on the main floor.

Take a look around when you’re driving and think about houses that you love and those you don’t and try to identify why. Then drop me a line and let me know!

“Follow” me and stay tuned for more Hometrends! Until next time…..G

I am a huge consumer of design and love finding new features, materials, patterns, textures and more in my daily life. I'm a realtor, a homeless activist, a wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend to a cadre of crazies! Join me as we explore design and trends in homes...I'll share what experts say and always, always, I'll give you my take on it! G