Open House in the Winter? Make a Powerful First Impression

When preparing your home for an Open House this time of year, be sure to pay as much attention to the outside as you do to the inside. You want to create a great first impression, so by the time potential buyers enter your home, they are already optimistic about living there.

Here are some relatively easy things you can do to create the most inviting exterior without breaking the bank or your back. Also be aware that most buyers will ride by and check out the exterior of your home before even considering viewing the inside.  So it can be argued that the exterior is 'the most important' selling feature. 

1. Put a fresh coat of paint on your front door.  Not sure what color is best?  Use a color wheel to find a color that complements the color of your siding or brick.  Here is a simple color wheel to use from This Old House:  https://www.thisoldhouse.com/ideas/choose-paint-colors-color-wheel.

If the temperatures are not warm enough as recommended by the paint, secure thick plastic to the door opening and paint the door from the inside of the house. Latex paints dry fast, so you won't need to keep the door open too long.  Choose a day and time when the sun is shining on the front of your house so it will be even warmer.

2. If your siding, shutters and/or windows are dirty, have them cleaned. In the winter this may be harder to do and might not be practical for you to do yourself, but it can still be done. Contact a local power washing service and plan to have the exterior power washed when the weather is safe for the process. Generally your house can be washed all winter, except when the temperatures are too low or the wind is too high.  A professional will know when it's safe to do.  If you can't wash your whole house, you should at least wash the area around the front door/porch.

3. If snow isn't covering everything in your yard, it may be prudent to put a light layer of new mulch on your landscaping beds. Fresh mulch is inexpensive, easy to apply, and will give your yard an instant face lift.  Again . . . weather permitting.

4. You can't put fresh flowers on your porch in the winter, but you can put a nice potted evergreen shrub or small tree near your door. This will give the same effect, which is a well-cared-for feeling about your home.  It's a special touch that will not go unnoticed. A decoration for the door, such as a spray of dried herbs or evergreens, or something related to a holiday that is coming up, is also a nice touch as long as it's tastefully done.  

5. Do you have enough lighting on your porch and walkway? In the short days of winter it's even more important since many potential buyers will be driving by your home after dark. Be sure to set your exterior lighting on a timer to come on at dusk. You want your home to look warm, welcoming, and safe. If your exterior lighting needs replaced, you should do it now.  New, clean, lighting appropriately matched to the style of your home will make very little impact on your wallet, but will go a long way to wow potential buyers.

6. Is your mailbox a little beat up?  If so, you should replace it with something that has a nice brushed metal finish that coordinates with your lighting, door, or exterior siding. If it's warm enough for a day, you can give it quick spray painting if it's looking tired but not dented.

7. Here's an easy one. Replace your house numbers with new prominent numbers with clean lines that are visible from the street. Check out some options at Home Depot: http://www.homedepot.com/s/house%2520numbers?NCNI-5.  Visually prominent street numbers send a message that your address inspires pride.

8. Replace your welcome mat with a high-quality classy mat.  Spending a little extra on a high-quality welcome mat will give an impression of 'expensive' to your home, and you can take it with you when you move.

9. Clean up. It goes without saying that you should remove all personal items from the exterior of your house. In the winter, this might include snow shovels, pet toys, sports flags, or any items left over from the last holiday.  Your yard should be de-personalized, just like the interior of your home.

10. Have the finishes on your door knob, door knocker, and porch light all match. So if you have clashing metals, just remove them and spray paint them all to match. These days you can paint anything.  You should have no trouble finding a nice brushed metal finish in the right color at Lowe's or Home Depot.

Most of these items can be done by you, and are relatively inexpensive, but make a big difference in your home's first impression.