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Real estate professionals know that the exterior of a home often determines whether or not buyers will give the home any consideration in their house search.

Yes, it's the first thing they'll see when they visit the home. But since exterior pictures are normally the feature picture for a listing, it's also the first image they'll see when they find the home online.

In many cases, buyer searching for homes online will decide whether or not to save a house to their favorites or schedule a showing based on that one picture.

That leads me to a question that real estate photographers are often asked

Well doesn't the photographer edit the pictures after taking them to make the house look good?

The answer is yes and no.

Yes, pictures are edited to make sure that the picture is clear and clean. The natural beauty of the home should be showcased. Editing should not include giving the house a paint job and new landscaping via Photoshop.

In most cases, all you'll need are some small tweaks to make the exterior pleasant and inviting.

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So heres a 10 step checklist that you can offer your clients to improve their homes curb appeal on a budget.

Step 1 Remove all clutter from around the house.

If it's not part of the landscape or outdoor living furniture and accessories, then it shouldn't be seen around the house. Tuck garbage cans and recycle bins out of site.

Pressure wash the home including windows, porches, and doors. Make sure you clear out any cobwebs or nests (wasps, bees, ETC).

Step 2 Frame the house with fresh trim.

You don't necessarily need a full paint job to make a homes paint look fresh. Sometimes touching up the trim gives a house just what it needs to look crisp again.

Be sure to use good judgment with this one. If your paint is pretty well faded or chipped, then a trim won't cut it. But if you can, then try a fresh trim. It might be just enough to make the home look sharp.

Step 3 Manicure the landscape and lawn.

Break out the lawn mower and the trimmer and get some return on your sweat investment! Or hire someone to do it for you. The cost for this service is pretty inexpensive. Especially compared to the potential gain. A beautiful home can easily be hidden by overgrown grass and bushes.

Step 4 Dress up the yard with a bit of color.

Color adds dimension and interest to the home and draws the eye into a picture. Choose plants with colors that contrast with the color of the home so that they show well against the backdrop of the home in the photograph.

Step 5 A Well Lit Landscape

Some of the prettiest exterior photographs are of homes at dusk. The blues and purples in the sky and the twinkle of lawn lights really create some real estate magic! Night pictures can really give a home that magazine quality look. But you can't achieve that look with lights that aren't all working.

Make sure that lights are all working and consistent in style. If the home is modern in style, choose lights that complement that style.

Remember, buyers often check out houses that they are really interested at night. Theyll do a drive by to see what the neighborhood is like at night. Make sure that the house shines in the day and sparkles at night!

Step 6 Give your mailbox some polish

When potential buyers are driving around looking for your home, they will probably be looking for the house number on the mailbox. It may be the first part of the house they see.

Make sure that it is clean and in good working order. Give it fresh coat of paint if needed, or if it's falling apart, go ahead and get a new one.

Step 7 Hows your house number?

Whether the house number is posted on the mailbox, or somewhere else on the house, it should stand out and be easy to read. You don't want homebuyers to have to guess if they are at the right house.

Polish the house number up, or give it a fresh coat of paint in a color that will complement the house yet still stand out.

Step 8 Dress the front door.

The front door can either welcome people in or shut them out. Simple touches like a large and vibrant door mat paired with a full seasonal wreath on the door draws house hunters in.

If the door is a well dressed one, it may be worth it to take a picture that features the door. Especially if the home has a grand entrance or welcoming front porch.

Step 9 Check front door lighting.

Home buyers will get up close and personal with this light. If you use front door pictures, it will show up there. And when buyers visit the home they will be able to see it up close and touch it too.

The front door light should be clean and free from dirt, dead bugs, and any broken glass or framing. It should have a working light bulb too.

Step 10 Give special attention to special features.

Does the home have a gate? A fountain? Maybe a small pond or walkover bridge. If your house has any of these special exterior features, you'll want to showcase it in your listing pictures to set it apart from other homes. And it will be something that potential buyers touring homes will take special interest in seeing.

Make sure that the homes special features are in good working order. Any damage or signs of wear and tear should be taken care of.

The home ready for a close up!

Well, that about sums up my checklist for how to improve curb appeal on a budget.

Maybe you need to do all 10 of these steps to get the house ready for picture day and tours. Or maybe you only need to do one or two. Either way, all of these are low to no cost fixes that you can do pretty quickly and with minimal effort and expense.

So before you call your real estate photographer out to take house pics, take a walk outside and stand in front of the home. Look at it with a buyer's eye. Decide what changes you're going to make and then start making them. All you may need is one weekend to get the exterior of your house camera ready!

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Posted in Home Improvement Post Date 05/17/2016


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