7 Curb Appeal Mistakes to Avoid

Don't sabotage your home sale with outdoor decor that turns buyers off before they've even walked through the door.
By: Gretchen Roberts
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Cluttered Driveway

A car parked in the driveway tells potential buyers that the house isn't big enough to store everything, so you had to put the overflow in the garage and park your vehicle outside. It's also distracting in online pictures, says Hans Brings, vice president of Coldwell Banker in Waltham, Mass.

Nasty Neighbors

Homes, like people, are often judged by the company they keep, says Rick Hoffman, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in San Diego County and Temecula Valley. "Unfortunately, ahome with a less-than-tidy next-door neighbor or an adjacent vacant home lacking in the lawn care department can have a negative effect on a potential homebuyer. It's worth the effort to politely ask for some neighborly support in keeping their lawn mowed, or even offering to lend your own elbow grease," he says.

Personal Possessions

Religious decor, lawn ornaments, kids' toys scattered around or even piled up in a corner are a huge no-no, says Laura Slyman, owner of Slyman Real Estate in Knoxville, Tenn. "Sometimes homeowners will have outdoor landscaping that isn't cohesive with the rest of the neighborhood or geographical area, like gravel in the garden in an area where everyone else uses mulch," she says. "Instead of being unique, it comes off as an eyesore."

Dead on Arrival

Gardens may not look great out of season, but you can spruce them up by getting rid of dead leaves and plants, says Paul Brennesholtz, a Keller Williams real estate agent in Atlanta. "Whatever you do, don't 'plant' artificial flowers," he warns. "They are the epitome of tacky."

Upkeep Nightmare

You've spent the last decade turning your yard into a full-fledged garden, getting rid of grass little by little until you had an entire lawn full of ornamentals, annuals and perennials. But your dream garden may be a buyer's nightmare. Talk to your real estate agent about how to make that lovely landscape appear to be low-maintenance.

Eyesore Neglect

The rusted-out carport, rotted wood shutters and tattered awnings have been there so long your eyes just move right past them, but buyers will notice, says David Kean, a real estate agent with The John Aaroe Group in Beverly Hills. "Just getting rid of some outdated, mismatched or dilapidated features of your home's exterior will drastically improve the curb appeal for a minimal amount of effort and money," he says. "Bear in mind that you might need to invest some elbow grease in the form of patching and painting afterward."

Improper Paint Colors

Most homes have seen a bit of wear and tear, so it's important to consider a fresh coat of paint — at least for certain details like the front door and shutters. Opt for neutral colors — gray, black, white and beige — rather than colors that are too personal or extreme — like pink, purple or bright yellow, says Jennifer Ames, a Chicago-based Coldwell Banker agent. "But add touches of color to avoid appearing too sterile," she advises. That means a pop of red on the front door, or dark blue shutters on a white house.

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