10 Tips to Boost Curb Appeal and Get Better Exterior Photos

Photo by Mediamax's Jon Eady for Kathy Recker

Everybody thinks about staging home interiors when getting ready to sell. But what about staging the exterior?

We called Lauren Matthews, design director and co-owner of White Orchid, Mediamax’s preferred partner for home staging, for advice on how to boost curb appeal and get better exterior photos.

  1. Most important, says Matthews, is “making sure everything’s trimmed and clean.” The good news: “you can do that without spending any money.” Cut the grass. Rake up any debris like pine needles or leaves. Trim the bushes. The goal: make sure your home’s exterior and yard look clean and neat.
  2. “One thing that a lot of people don’t think about because they’re living there – I would really suggest they take a look at the bushes and shrubs.” Often these need to be trimmed back quite a bit, Matthews says. “It’s amazing how they can grow up around the front or the side of a house and make the rooms feel really dark.” By trimming up the foliage outside, you bring more light inside, so the whole house looks and feels better.
  3. “I always suggest that people do a fresh bag or two of mulch around the flower beds,” she says. “That’s a cost-effective way to really make a big difference and make it look nice and fresh.”
  4. Take care of any pet spots, front and back. Dig out the dead grass and reseed or put in sod. Pet spots really can color people’s first impression, Matthews notes. You don’t want buyers saying, “`Oh, okay, it’s a pet house,’” and writing your home off from the curb.
  5. Make sure any kid toys, as well as pet toys, are put away. Also stow gardening tools, hoses, etc., “so it doesn’t feel cluttered out there.” In other words, de-clutter outside as well as in.
  6. Paint or touch up the front door and door jamb, if needed. Make sure the entry’s clean and cobweb-free. Adding or replacing the door’s kick plate can easily “cover up a lot of scuffs.” You can match the plate color to the existing hardware color. “You just want that front entry to be really nice and inviting and look like it’s been well kept.”
  7. Add pots of flowers to the entry – something bright and colorful, ideally a large and small pot on one side, a medium on the other. “You almost can’t go wrong with flowers,” Matthews says. Her choice might depend on the style of the home – e.g., “for more contemporary homes I would probably suggest doing something more like tall grasses, something that’s a little more clean lines and straight, instead of a bundle of flowers,” she says. “But anything that could kind of give some height to a door and the entryway and make it feel nice and tall – that’s a great way to go.”
  8. Of course, you can add flowers to your flower beds, too. Wherever you add flowers, “you just need to make sure it stays fresh and looks alive,” Matthews advises. Don’t let things get wilted or look like it’s on its way out.
  9. Decks, she notes, are “a great family space; outdoor living space is really important and buyers really want to see that.” Replacing old deck furniture might be warranted. At minimum, new cushions “can go a long way on adding color out there, for one thing, and really making it feel new and fresh.”
  10. For the backyard –the rule of “trimmed and clean” applies, as well as freshening the mulch. Matthews says it’s not necessary to add flowers here unless you’ve got a bed that needs to be addressed.

Let me offer a bonus tip. Approach the home from the buyer’s perspective – walk across the street or come at it from down the block. How’s it look? Understand there’s only so much a photographer can do with a tired or cluttered exterior. By following these tips, you’ll get much better exterior photos. That translates into capturing more buyers’ attention online and creating a better first impression when they come for a showing.

Mediamax Photography Agency has photographed more than 80,000 homes in Colorado since 2002. We are the professional choice for real estate photography and video, providing exceptional visual imagery with measurable online results. Order today.