The 3 second rule for home sellers simply means that it only takes 3 seconds to make a first impression. That is the amount of time you have to impress a potential buyer and get them to want to see the inside. As a Realtor there have been many times that I pull in front of a house and my client says drive on, based solely on a poor first impression. This is why Realtors talk about the importance of curb appeal, also known as first impressions. There are many low cost or no cost ways to greatly enhance a home’s curb appeal.
Clean and visible front door. The front door should be easily visible and eye catching from the front of the home. This invites the potential buyer to look inside your home. The front porch should be clean of debris and clutter. Prospective buyers will be standing there looking at the porch and door as they wait on their real estate agent to get the key from the lockbox. For a bold clean look paint the front door Red, dark Purple, or even Orange. Red and orange are the most eye catching and a dark purple is inviting.
Limb up trees and shrubs for visibility. It sounds easy enough, but this is one area of maintenance that I find is most often overlooked, trimming trees and shrubs. Having un-kept trees and shrubs gives a perspective buyer the impression that the house is also un-kept. It also makes the house hard to see from the street or even access the front walk and doorway. I am often surprised at how many times I go to show a home and bushes have overgrown the front walk to the door. Forcing potential buyers to leave the walkway into the yard does not make an inviting first impression. Potential buyers wonder what other maintenance items have you put off? If a potential buyer pulls into the driveway and a tree limb brushes the top of their car they are already annoyed (because they are wondering if the limb scratched their paint) before they ever get out of their car. Not a good way to start a showing.
Lights. Many people overlook the lights on the front of their house. Older lights often have a discolored finish or broken glass. A little elbow grease will go a long way to cleaning up the finish, and a trip to your local hardware store can replace any broken glass. Also while your working on the light, clean out all the dead bugs that accumulate in the bottom of the light fixture. If the light is too far gone, they can easily be replaced for $25-50.
Clean gutters. Grab your ladder and clean those gutters out. They serve the function of helping to remove water from the house. When they are plugged up the gutter system fails and water starts cause issues like rotting out the wood fascia on the house. It also just looks un-kept, which again creates doubt in a potential buyers mind.
Paint. Look for any siding or trim that needs touched up or repainted. This not only brightens the look of the home but speaks to keeping up with general maintenance of the home.
All of these can be done for $25-200. These are some simple and no or low cost improvements that will go a long way to giving you a better first impression. A better first impression gets more buyers stopping and viewing your home, and the more bodies through the door the better the odds of selling.