Eight seconds. That's all it takes for most buyers to form a first opinion of your house.

It's not long, so you need to make it count. Ideally, your home will impress and motivate a buyer to swiftly make an offer before it's gone from the market.

Home staging can help highlight your home's best features, making it appeal to buyers' senses and emotions. The following simple exterior design ideas and home-improvement suggestions can maximize your home's attractiveness and create a captivating first impression.

"Dressed" for Success from the Outside In

How your home looks from the street will shape a buyer's overall expectations - in fact, some prospects may not even make it inside your front door if they are turned off by the exterior. Use the following checklist to ensure your home is attractive enough to encourage a walk-through:

- Tidy Up - rake leaves, sweep walkways, clear the front steps

- Color Splash - brighten your landscape with seasonal flowers, weed garden beds, remove dead shubbery or trees

- Fresh Cut - mow your lawn and edge the sidewalks

- Remove Clutter - stow garbage cans, gardening supplies and all unnecessary items out of sight in the garage or shed

- Face-Lift - paint the front door, replace doormats, clean windows

- Functionality - fix or replace broken doorbells, outdoor lighting, wobbly handrails, loose paving stones

- Consider the Rear View - the same rules apply for your backyard - keep it tidy, colorful, well-maintained, de-cluttered and functional. Stow excess furniture and all children's toys.

Jim Chapman

Jim Chapman

CENTURY 21 Millennium Inc., Brokerage*
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