The Honey Trap
Companies have whole departments dedicated to creating just the right look, so you will buy their product. Thousands of pounds, or dollars, are spent on designing packaging that has the right colour, the right typeset, the right ‘look’, so that you will buy anything from a piece of candy to the latest piece of technology. I know; I studied packaging while doing my graphic design diploma. It's big business! And don’t get me started on logos. But, what has that to do with selling houses? A lot! After all, that old saying is true, you really don’t get a second chance to make a great first impression.
When it comes to selling a product that could bring in way more than a bar of chocolate. And I mean WAY more, it never ceases to amaze me that the art, and dare I say, psychology of selling a property is pretty much non-existent. Apart from seeing pictures on line, the first real opportunity a buyer gets to see their prospective new home is the outside of the house – it’s curb appeal – usually first seen as a drive by. Colloquially nicknamed the ‘honey trap’, because if someone loves what they see there is a long sigh, followed by ‘oh, honey, I love that house’ or a deep intake of breath followed by ‘oh, honey, keep going.’ First impressions really do count.
Now, I admit, I love architecture. I swoon when I see a beautiful ‘Nash’, my heart skips a beat at the thought of an Art Deco…and, please, do not get me started on beautiful, picture perfect, country cottages. Although the ‘history’ wasn't there, I landed in curb appeal heaven when I moved to Los Angeles. Front doors, painted in beautiful shades, gleamed with sparkling hardware. House numbers, large and perfectly formed, could be seen easily from the car – and some were even written in words above the door lintel – with the road name, too – no less. And when a house went on the market – it positively shone.
There really is no excuse. The amount of houses I show to prospective clients, where the paint work is chipping off the window sills, the front door could do with a good clean, and don’t get me started on the weeds, is completely shocking. And guess what, those prospective buyers notice. They do. One buyer said to me, ‘this house is going to cost me thousands to repair – looks like it needs all new windows. I hate to think what the inside is like.’
So, here’s the deal. Think of your property like a chocolate bar – edible and delicious; wrapped in loveliness, so that it attracts a buyer to find out whether it's as beautiful on the inside. It really doesn’t take much. Here are my tips for that all important curb appeal – if you want to sell your home for a good price.
Clean and power-wash the driveway and the paths leading to the front door, replace any paving stones that have come loose. Sweep away any leaves and deadhead any flowers. Place flower pots by the front door entry, if there is room. Fill with seasonal plants or topiary
Unblock any down-pipes and drains, so that your house looks well maintained
Paint doors, windows, garages – so they scream ‘I am loved’
Fit new, shiny, hardware to the front door (letterbox, keyhole surround, knocker, step plate)
Change out the light fitting – or at the very least, make sure it sparkles
Replace any missing roof tiles – not necessarily the whole roof – but, if you know you need one it might be cheaper to invest then reduce the price
And... please, have a front door number that you can see from the roadside without needing magnifying glasses.
All the above, apart from the roof, costs a few hundred pounds – if that. A lot of it is just elbow grease and a couple of days work by yourselves or a handyman. But that few hundred, could cost you hundreds of thousands, if a buyer just continues to drive on by.