Did you know that most folks will decide by looking at a photo on the internet whether or not they want to see the inside of your house?

Which is why you ought to boost your curb appeal. Summer in Chicago means there’s time to enjoy your garden. But upgrading your landscaping and fixing the exterior of your home can really boost the value of your property.

It’s said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But as the owner of a house, you have a lot to do with what prospective buyers see.

“The first cue I’m looking for is how easy is the house to find when you’re first arriving and what the feelings are when you approach the house?” says Daniel Owens, landscape designer, Allied.

What Owens likes to see are front walkways that are welcoming, back patios that invite you to spend long Sunday mornings reading the paper, and plantings that seem to unfold into bloom each week of the summer.

“We want to create a story as you make the transition from the public world into a more private space,” Owens says.

When it comes to curb appeal, most homeowners don’t have a clue. And that’s too bad because your landscaping is the first thing people see.

“I think that’s one of the last things that homeowners really think about. People think about kitchens and bathrooms and closets, but really it’s the exterior that drawn in buyers,” says Julie Deutsch, Coldwell Banker.

Pay close attention to the way the front of your house looks.

“If you don’t paint other parts of the house, you want to paint the front door, the trim. You want to try to make that area as inviting and draw people in as much as possible,” says Jeff Lyons, realestate.com

Keeping the detail and finishes consistent really helps create a seamless look and feel.

“The house numbers, the light fixtures, the door handles. All of that stuff should be one tone of material and carried on through out,” Owens says.

When it comes to the back yard, think about how you’re going to use the space before you draw up a plan. The “hardscape,” like pathways and patios, can cost up to 60 percent of your landscape budget. But even if your budget is tight, plain white concrete doesn’t have to be your only choice.

“There are concrete paver products that are wonderful, that can totally dress up the front of a home, that are cheaper to install than concrete and don’t crack the way concrete does,” Owens says.

It’s wonderful to fix up the exterior of your home because you’re going to enjoy it, but the real payoff comes when it’s time to sell your home.

“As you think about landscaping, a well-improved house can actually sell for about 10 percent more than one that wasn’t in the same condition,” Lyons says.

But more importantly, having a great exterior means more people will take a second look at your property.

“About half of all home sales are actually decided on the curb,” Lyons says. Which is what happened with this multi-million dollar mansion.

“It drew people into the house. Whether they could afford it or not, everyone wanted to see it. We had 200 people for an open house because everyone had driven by this and seen the exterior,” Deutsch says.

The best way to do your landscaping on a tight budget is to phase in the work over several years. The plan itself might cost anywhere from $500 on up, but if you’re willing to do the work, landscape designers say you can buy and install the materials yourself.

RESOURCES Allied offers a free booklet on creating curb appeal. You can download it from their website, www.allied.com.

Daniel Owens is a designer with the show “Curb Appeal.” he specializes in fend shui. Find him online at his website, www.enviromagic.com.

Julie Deutsch
Coldwell Banker
Email: jrdeutsch@comcast.net

Jeff Lyons

Need personal finance advice or real estate advice? Send your questions to Ilyce Glink: www.ThinkGlink.com

Published: Jun 19, 2005