The theory that a person only gets one chance to make a first impression also holds true in the real estate business. Prospective home buyers will often drive by an available property and assess its curb appeal, those aesthetic qualities visible from a public vantage point. Curb appeal includes such details as landscaping, architectural symmetry, external paint scheme, lighting design and structural integrity. Curb appeal is not limited to the front of the structure, however, as many potential buyers will make an effort to view the house from all available angles. The successful sale of a house may depend heavily on its initial curb appeal.
There are a number of ways a homeowner can improve the property's curb appeal. Landscape design is often one of the first things others notice about a home as they drive through the area. Regular scheduled mowing should keep the lawn looking healthy, and any discolored or bare patches should be replaced and re-sodded. A well-manicured lawn includes trimmed edges and weed control, so a homeowner seeking to improve curb appeal should either hire professional lawn care experts or invest in the proper trimming and edging tools to create a visually appealing yard.
The design elements of a home's exterior can also create greater curb appeal. Visual balance and symmetry are important to consider when adding lighting fixtures or window accessories. The front of the house may not be completely symmetrical, but the individual sections such as the windows and doorway should appear balanced. Two identical light fixtures should frame the front door, for example, or shutters around the windows should be equal and well-maintained. Other decorative elements should not give the house a cluttered appearance, but some tasteful decorations would give prospective buyers some idea on how the house would look after they move in.
Another way to improve curb appeal is to create an effective lighting scheme. Some homeowners use flood lights to illuminate their houses at night, while others install solar lights or a decorative street light. A potential buyer may want to see if the house's lighting scheme provides enough illumination to walk from the driveway to the front door safely. He or she may also be impressed by a motion-detection system which provides additional security at night. Again, whatever lighting system a homeowner installs should be balanced and in good working order for maximum curb appeal.
Curb appeal can be a very subjective quality in a prospective buyer's mind, but a homeowner should try his or her best to improve the visual appeal of the home's exterior with as much attention to detail as he or she would with the home's interior. A house with little curb appeal could have the most lavish and modern interior and still not attract many potential buyers, so a homeowner should be willing to invest in the first element any potential buyer sees when shopping for a home.