First Person: 5 Ways to Kill the Curb Appeal of Your Home

“Curb appeal” is Realtor-speak for how attractive a home looks from the street. That curb side view is a homeowner’s first (and sometimes only) chance to dazzle a prospective buyer.

While most homeowners put lots of effort into boosting their home’s curb appeal, some owners just don’t care. This kind of neglect is a huge mistake; I know that from experience. As a former Realtor, I discovered that certain types of exterior neglect are so alarming to buyers that they become “deal killers.” Here are five ways to kill the curb appeal of your home and squash any potential interest:

Massive overgrowth

One or two slightly overgrown shrubs isn’t going to scare off a customer. But massive overgrowth, such as the type that requires a machete to get into the backyard, is a definite turn off. Overgrown shrubs and overhanging trees not only make a home look smaller, darker, and creepier, they also contribute to rot and bug infestation. If your place is buried beneath foliage, don’t be surprised to see clients zoom away from the curb without getting out of the car.

Front yard junk pile

Is your yard littered with busted bikes, lumber, dead toys, bits and pieces of nondescript rusty things, and other debris? Cluttered, untidy yards look smaller and less inviting to potential buyers. I’ve even seen massive amount of junk scare off buyers since no one knows what kind of hazardous waste might be lying beneath the rubbish. Junk piles in the yard will kill the curb appeal of any home, even cute vintage ones.

Bad roof

A roof not only insulates, it protects the structure from the weather. A roof in really bad condition has clients mentally tabulating the extent of hidden damage to the insulation, framework, and ceilings to determine that this home is probably not worth viewing.

Zero scape

Xeriscaping is an attractive, low-water landscaping plan that boosts curb appeal. But “zero scape,” consisting of 30 yards of gravel dumped in the front yard, is highly unattractive. It will also eliminate most of your buyers who would have preferred a more inviting yard for kids and pets.

General seediness

Unless you are advertising your home as a fixer-upper, signs of neglect and overall seediness are usually deal killers too. Broken or cracked windows, chipped or missing chunks of siding, peeling paint, hanging gutters, and broken garage doors are all signs of a home that hasn’t been well maintained. A seedy home tends to turn off potential buyers, which is not a wise strategy, especially in today’s competitive market.

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