Curb appeal is the term real estate agents and brokers use to describe how homes look from the curb of sidewalk.

It includes not only the exterior of your house (and it mainly applies to single-family houses and townhouses rather than condos, since most condo associations care for the exterior and common areas of the property) but the landscaping of the property that your home sits on as well.

Since the exterior of the property is the first thing buyers are going to see, whether it’s online in a photo or during a “drive-by” showing, you’ve got to get your home’s street presence into shape before you list your home for sale. If buyers like what they see from the street – or their car window – they’ll be more likely to go up and take a closer look.

How do you make your home appealing? Start by taking a tour of other homes in the neighborhood, notebook and pen in hand. What makes these homes appealing? Do they have fences or gates? Colorful flowers? A variety of trimmed bushes? Are the homes well-kept? What draws your eye?

These notes will be a useful font of information as you begin to think about enhancing the appearance of your home’s exterior. Consider taking a digital camera with you to record the most attractive exteriors you see.

Now, walk to the curb outside your own home, and turn around.

What do you see? Is your lawn shaggy? Have you edged around your bushes and flower beds? Is the lawn smooth and green? Have your bushes and trees been trimmed? Now, look at your house. Does it appear freshly painted and is excellent condition? Are the driveway and sidewalk cracked or do they look nice and neat?

Consider hiring a professional landscaper to spend a day getting your garden in shape. For a few hundred dollars, the landscaper should trim your bushes and hedges, freshly edge and weed your flower beds, manicure your lawn, and blow out any old leaves and garbage trapped under the bushes.

Are you taking full advantage of the spring and summer season? Planting pots with colorful flowers will add a burst of color to the front of your home, helping to draw the buyer’s eye to different details. You should plant colorful flowers that will bloom throughout the time in which you’re selling your home.

Once your landscape is in shape, decide what, if anything, you need to do to the exterior of your home. If it looks drab or the paint is peeling, you may want to repaint it. If you do paint, choose white. Agents say white homes are more appealing to buyers.

Washing the windows will let extra light into your home, helping to make it feel bigger and brighter.

Your roof should be in good condition, without any peeling or rippled shingles. Gutters and downspouts should be in good repair, cleaned out and draining properly.

Now, it’s time to add a little flavor. If you’re selling in spring, summer or fall, or if you live in a warm-weather climate, consider putting a couple of beautiful wicker rocking chairs on your front porch to create the illusion of days gone by. If your mailbox is old or not that attractive, consider painting it, or purchasing a cast-iron English post box.

Seventy percent of home buyers start their search on the Internet. They’ll be looking at the exterior photo of your home, trying to decide whether it’s attractive enough to go see it in person. If your home’s curb appeal is charming, a prospective buyer looking at the Internet photo will probably decide to come see it in person.

Which is the first step toward getting an offer.