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6 Upgrades That’ll Help Sell Your Home During the Pandemic—and Beyond

September 24, 2020

home improvements to make before you sell

Feverpitched/Getty Images

If you imagined 2020 was the year you would finally list your house for sale, you may have hit the brakes on those plans when the coronavirus pandemic arrived.

But now, we’re more than six months into the COVID-19 era with no clear end in sight. As many people continue working and logging in to school from home, the real estate market is again heating up with buyers eager to upgrade to a new home.

So stop putting it off: Now is the time to step on the gas in preparing your home to sell. We talked with experts to learn which home improvements will hit the right note with buyers during the pandemic (and beyond).

1. Upgrade your outdoor space

Most of us are suffering from an acute case of cabin fever these days. It’s little wonder that outdoor space has become more important than ever to prospective buyers.

“Even pools are becoming more popular in areas where they weren’t before,” says Bill Walker, chief operating officer of Kukun, a web resource for home improvements.

That doesn’t mean you need to splurge on a new in-ground pool; even a minor landscaping refresh can make a big difference and increase curb appeal. Depending on your budget and your neighborhood, you might also consider adding an in-ground fire pit or outdoor kitchen to maximize your outdoor space.

If you live in a cooler climate, extending the usability of your outdoor space will be a big draw for buyers.

“Get a low-cost outdoor heater and area rug to stage the space as an outdoor living room,” says Francie Malina, a real estate agent in New York’s Westchester County.

2. Create a functional home office or classroom

Many workers aren’t heading back to the office until 2021 or even later, which means home office space is at a premium, along with space for kids to log in to their virtual classrooms.

“People need a dedicated space for multiple people to be able to be on calls at the same time,” says Walker, who currently works at home alongside his wife, and his kids attending school virtually. “It definitely creates challenges when we all need to be on calls and need space to work.

Even if you don’t need two home offices or a remote learning station for your own family, consider staging your home to show the possibilities for buyers.

“Staging a guest bedroom as a home office or classroom is a good idea,” Walker says. “The potential buyer can see the room being used in a versatile way and visualize it for themselves.”

Plus, most of us host guests in our guest rooms for less than a month per year, Walker says—and probably even less during the pandemic.

3. Add separation of space

Open floor plans are so 2019.

“Open floor plans are losing a bit of luster,” Malina says. “Homeowners are looking for distinct spaces for family members to work or study.”

If your space isn’t well-segmented, you may want to create separate spaces by adding barn doors or pocket doors—or even room dividers for a quick and easy solution.

Having distinct rooms helps to minimize volume from other people’s activities, and can also create a different feeling in each part of the house.

“As people are spending more time at home, they want room and different environments to not feel stuck inside,” Walker says.

4. Add space for a home gym

Many people are forgoing the gym during the pandemic, preferring to work up a sweat from home to minimize risks of coronavirus transmission. That means people are looking for space to house gym equipment, from yoga mats to treadmills and stationary bikes.

Your home may not have the space for a fully equipped home gym, but you can still carve out a corner where home buyers will be able to picture their future at-home HIIT workouts or yoga flows.

5. Give your in-law suite a makeover

If you have a guest house, this can be an attractive feature for buyers right now—especially those with multigenerational households, or people looking for a potential source of rental income.

“With people bringing elderly family members home, [additional dwelling units] are a good option, especially if there is a kitchen and bathroom,” Walker says. “Even if this space isn’t used for personal reasons, it can be an investment property.”

6. Spruce up the laundry room

Concerns about cleanliness and hygiene have been at an all-time high during the pandemic, which means “laundry rooms are more important than pre-COVID,” Malina says.

People are doing laundry more often after running errands, and many of us have become more diligent about washing our bed linens. Plus, who couldn’t use more room for ironing, folding, and hang-drying clothes?

“Having a dedicated space to do laundry is a wonderful luxury, and buyers often want the space to be beautiful like the rest of their homes,” Malina says.

The post 6 Upgrades That’ll Help Sell Your Home During the Pandemic—and Beyond appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Take Me Outside! 11 Exterior Things You Shouldn’t Miss During a Home Video Tour

June 11, 2020

Outdoor video tour

SDI Productions/Getty Images

In the age of coronavirus, video tours are quickly becoming the go-to alternative to in-person tours. But for prospective buyers, there’s more to the process than asking your smartphone-wielding agent to show you the chef’s kitchen and that walk-in closet one more time. In fact, there’s also a whole other world outside waiting for you to explore—virtually.

Sure, you probably are already fond of the home’s curb appeal. (It’s what attracted you in the first place, right?) But since you can’t be there in person, your agent should show you the exterior—and the yard—from all angles.

According to the experts, these are outdoor places your agent shouldn’t overlook when giving you a virtual home tour.

1. All four corners of the lot

Google Street View can provide photos of the neighborhood. But here’s the thing: Those images might not be current and won’t show changes to the property or features like a new fence.

“It’s a good idea to stand in the corners of the property and pan around, showing all angles—not only to see the lot lines but to provide a better sense of how far the house is from each perspective,” says Jared Wilk, broker with the Shulkin Wilk Group at Compass, in Boston.

2. The neighbors’ houses

Having friendly and helpful neighbors is a wonderful thing—but not if they’re too close for comfort.

“Imagine if you’re entertaining—how close would the neighbors be if they were eating outside at the same time?” asks Dustin Fox, real estate agent at Pearson Smith Realty in Ashburn, VA.

Have your agent show you—and maybe even measure—how close the neighbors are from the house you’re considering.

3. Outdoor components

This can mean a wide variety of outdoor amenities, tools, and other aspects that you see outside—all of which are important to making a smart offer on a home, says Traci Shulkin, a Realtor® with the Shulkin Wilk Group at Compass.

“I show them the sprinklers working, gates, fences, and mechanicals up close,” she says. “And any exterior features that might impact a buyer’s decision to buy—like a nearby cell tower or recycling center or even areas of the property that are showing wear and tear.”

4. Outbuildings

Backyard shed
Garden shed

chuckcollier/Getty Images

Don’t forget to have your agent show you features like the shed, garage, or pool house.

“It is important to walk around the entire structures, because a seller will often clean up just the front or have accumulations of [stuff] simply thrown behind their shed,” says Wilk. “If we don’t take note of this, then the seller may ‘forget about it’ and leave this to be your problem as the new homeowner.”

And don’t forget to scour the hidden areas of the building for any animals that are living or nesting. (Or ask your agent to do so.)

5. The landscaping

Gorgeous landscaping is beautiful, but you might need more than a green thumb to keep it that way.

“If there are a lot of existing trees and flower beds, this will require mulching, weeding, and regular maintenance,” Fox says. “Most buyers don’t factor in the added costs of paying a landscaper to mow and mulch.”

Take note of how close the trees are to the house and if they’re healthy. Large tree roots can permeate pipes, and dying trees can topple over in a storm.

6. Walkways and driveways

Long driveway
Think carefully about a long driveway.

KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images

Just how long is that lovely tree-lined driveway? What’s the condition? And how steep is it? If you live in an area that gets snow, you may think twice about driving up and down in the winter and paying for snow removal.

7. The land

It’ll be a letdown if you’re looking forward to playing croquet in the backyard only to find it drops off to a steep rock bed. That’s why experts suggest buyers make sure to see how the house is set on the lot, especially if it’s below grade.

Does the backyard slope? Is there standing water that could point to drainage issues?

8. The deck

deck
Zoom in on the deck.

chuckcollier/Getty Images

Subtle details of wear and tear are difficult to see on a video, so be sure to have your agent zoom in to inspect for damage and structural integrity.

“Have them shake and grab the railing to see if they’re loose,” Fox suggests. “Is there wood rot? Are the deck boards in need of replacing, or power washing and staining?”

9. All sides of the house

A fresh coat of paint and a new door are just a few curb appeal tricks to attract buyers, but what lies beyond the charming facade?

“The main things we are looking for are exterior deficiencies, such as large cracks in the foundation, rotted trim around the house, an older AC condenser, or an aging roof,” Wilk says. “A buyer wants to know what type of expenses they are going to incur as potential homeowners.”

10. Playground equipment

Backyard swingset
Backyard swingset

stu99/Getty Images

If you have kids, playground equipment in the backyard is a bonus if it comes with the house. If, that is, the stuff is in good shape.

“The broker should really take detailed videos and pictures,” Shulkin says. “Homeowners tend to not take great care of these outdoor structures, and they show a lot of wear and tear from rain, snow, and sun.”

11. The sounds

If possible, you can still request some quiet time during the video tour to listen for noises that might be a deal breaker. Listen for planes overhead, barking dogs, and especially traffic noise.

“This may not be a big deal for you moving into the home,” Fox says. “But it could take thousands off the value when you go to resell it.”

Download our new app to get the noise data at the house you’re interested in buying.

The post Take Me Outside! 11 Exterior Things You Shouldn’t Miss During a Home Video Tour appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

How Touring Open Houses Helped Me See My Own Home in a Whole New Light

August 14, 2019

Ty Wright/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Want to learn how to sell your house? Simple: Put on your buyer hat and tour a bunch of homes for sale in your area. That’s what I did, and I learned a ton about how to sell my own place.

I’d bought my cozy one-bedroom condo in Irvine, CA, three years ago; it was perfect for a single 20-something ready to break away from the renting game. But now, I’m married, with dreams of having kids who will need their own rooms and with plans to get a brood of pups, who probably won’t be impressed with my cement balcony “backyard.” With these goals on our horizon, I realized that my husband and I were going to need a bigger place.

So, I started touring open houses in my area, often with my husband in tow. While my original motive was to figure out what we wanted to buy, it didn’t take long for me to feel like an expert in buying and selling. Here’s what I learned.

Home staging makes a huge difference

One weekend, my husband and I toured a house I loved—it felt so homey and elegant. I was inspired by the kids’ rooms, with their vintage feel and soft colors. I even started imagining family dinners at the gorgeous wood table next to the kitchen. I could practically taste the ice cream we’d have for dessert.

Then, a few weeks later, we went to see another house. Within moments of walking in, I walked right out, calling it “definitely skippable.” That’s when my husband stopped me.

“You know that’s the same layout as the house you loved, right?”

living room
This living room felt like home to me. I loved the table off the kitchen and the cozy living room.

realtor.com

I hadn’t even noticed! Sure enough, as I looked at both listings online—both in the same preplanned community—I realized that almost everything was exactly the same. I’d walked through the same rooms, seen essentially the same views though the windows, and even tested the same faucets, without connecting the dots.

I couldn’t believe how different it all looked—and how quick I had been to dismiss the second house. This convinced me that good staging could offer a huge advantage, one that I’d have to make use of when selling my own home. While I’d once considered simply moving my furniture out of my condo before selling it, I realized now that it was important to keep at least some of the best things. Buyers will have a hard time picturing eating their meals at a table they can’t see, or imagining falling asleep in a bedroom without a cozy-looking bed.

chairs and fireplace
I walked into this house and was immediately confused by the staging. I couldn’t imagine myself here.

realtor.com

Odds are, some areas of your home are outdated

Walking into an open house, it can be hard not to look at the owner’s sense of style before anything else.

Sometimes, I’d be overwhelmed by the gorgeous design and glamorous art pieces that seemed made for the home. I’d even go as far as to ask if I could buy that couch, or those bar stools, along with the house. But at other open houses, I’d find myself unpleasantly distracted by an outdated dining room table, or gaudy light fixtures. You expect a house to be at its absolute best when it’s being shown, so when I went into one house with a way-too-’80s fireplace and baby-blue walls that made the living room look like a nursery, I couldn’t even focus on the large living space or the great view.

blue and white living room
When I toured this home, I got some great ideas for pops of color in my own home. I loved the use of blue pillows in this otherwise muted living room. It reminded me that it can be easy (and inexpensive) to change up a look.

realtor.com

Being (relatively) young and (moderately) hip, I thought I was in the clear from any big style faux pas. But one day, coming home from open houses, I realized that my condo might be a style offender, too. Once I started looking at modern, expertly designed homes, I started to notice that none of my furniture really went together and that the accent wall I loved so much was a bit outdated. I realized I’d have to give my condo a refresh if I had any hope of fetching top dollar.

living room
I was underwhelmed with this house’s interior. Not only was all the furniture dated, but the rooms felt flat and uninteresting.

realtor.com

Don’t forget about the outdoor areas, too

Since my own home had a balcony, I made a point to tour some condos with balconies, just to see how they compared to my own.

As I saw terrace after terrace with sleek furniture and creative features like shade-providing curtains, it quickly dawned on me they were much more stylish and welcoming than mine, even though they were about the same size. I realized there was a lot more I could do with this small space.

Inspired, I bought some new cozy outdoor chairs for my balcony, added a small table and a few more potted plants, and even an outdoor-friendly rug for some more color. When I’m ready to sell, my balcony will already be buyer-ready!

sitting area
I liked this simple and sweet outdoor space. It has just enough furniture to make for a comfortable sitting area (without making it feel crowded) and the pillow and potted plants provide a cozy feeling.

realtor.com

You have to spend money to make money

When I first started looking at homes, I didn’t understand why they were priced the way they were. I’d see some homes with three bedrooms and three baths that were $100,000 more expensive than houses the same size in a similar area. It wasn’t until I toured the homes that I understood. These pricier houses had some noticeable differences, such as upgrades in the kitchen and better curb appeal. I realized that people are willing to pay handsomely for certain features.

black and white kitchen
I saw many boring 1990s kitchens on home tours, but this updated, chic setup cut through the clutter.

realtor.com

When it came to my condo, I knew there were updates I should do to the kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities. It wouldn’t cost too much to update those things, but I knew that when the time came to sell, buyers would be more willing to pay top dollar with those updates—so they were worth the added expense.

kitchen
This is one of the many basic, outdated kitchens I saw. Kitchens should feel inviting, but I thought this one just felt boring.

realtor.com

 

The post How Touring Open Houses Helped Me See My Own Home in a Whole New Light appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Make Buyers Swoon With These 4 Summer Vignette Staging Ideas

July 3, 2019

KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock

Picture walking into your dream house and being greeted by inviting scenes of summer relaxation throughout. Maybe there’s a short stack of beach reads next to the pool, or a pitcher laid out with chilled glasses, all ready for you.

This is what vignette staging is all about: drawing in buyers with curated scenes that showcase your home’s top features. It’s even better if they evoke the mood of the season.

So if you’re looking to sell your house quickly this summer, keep reading to master these four fresh vignettes that are guaranteed to make buyers swoon.

1. A dreamy front porch


Photo by Houzz  
“Nothing says ‘welcome home’ like a well-designed front porch,” says Seattle-based interior designer Sherri Monte. “Whether it’s a hanging swing with accent pillows and throw blankets, or a pair of rocking chairs with a side table in between, a good first impression starts at the front door.”

Go the extra mile by adding several magazines or books with a decorative coffee mug or wineglass. Monte even suggests adding a small rug or accent greenery to complete the look.

“Vignettes work because they create a story in the buyer’s mind,” says Justin Riordan, interior designer and founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency.

Just by looking at your front porch vignette, potential buyers might imagine a summer afternoon relaxing in a rocking chair, or watching their children or grandchildren play in the yard.

“The story may or may not be true,” Riordan says, “but if we, as the seller, can make them feel desire for the type of lifestyle they crave, then we’ve done our job.”

2. An enticing entryway


Photo by JayJeffers
As the second space your buyer sees, the entryway is arguably just as important to focus on when selling your home. To ease buyers into the summer vibes, try pairing a large vase with freshly cut flowers on an entryway table.

“A tall vase, one that adds whimsical personality and maintains a transitional style with greenery, will create a light and airy vibe,” Monte explains.

Add a few soft-scented candles and a linen tea towel. Remember to limit the number of objects in your vignettes to avoid the scenes becoming overcrowded.

“Layer in tones and elements found outside during the summer, but don’t be afraid to leave a little breathing room,” Monte says. “Repeating colors and elements that we see outside is a great way to subconsciously create continuity.”

3. A fresh, breezy kitchen


Photo by Lowe’s Home Improvement 
Everyone loves a clean, fresh-feeling kitchen. So go ahead and throw open a few windows before the buyers arrive.

But don’t stop there. Summer is easily the best time of year to use colorful produce to your advantage—and not just while cooking. The next time you visit your local farmers market, make a plan to pick up a few extra-bright veggies or fruits for display in your favorite bowl.

Forgo the freshly cut flowers in favor of a small potted plant, something fragrant—like rosemary or basil. Place these items on a wooden cutting board or textured mat with folded cloth napkins to complete your countertop vignette.

Another great kitchen vignette is what Riordan likes to call “the drink setup,” which consists of an empty pitcher and six empty glasses on a tray with cloth napkins.

“This can be placed on a kitchen counter, and it speaks to having guests over on the front porch and preparing to have drinks brought out to them,” Riordan says.

A word of caution: “Do not—and I repeat, do not—fill the pitcher with liquid or fake liquid,” he says. “It takes the gentle whisper of the vignette and turns it into a desperate scream of fakery.” When it comes to vignettes, subtle is best.

4. The perfect backyard


Photo by Smith & Vansant Architects PC
If you have any outdoor space to speak of, you’d do well to consider throwing in an outdoor vignette or two.

“If your outdoor space has room for a dining table, why not set that table with a gingham tablecloth, picnic basket, and a set of outdoor dishes?” Riordan says.

For vignettes like these, stick to a single color scheme.

“If every outdoor vignette has multiple colors, it will appear chaotic in listing photos,” he says.

Another simple summertime vignette can be built around a hammock. String one up between two trees and add a pillow and a light blanket.

“Suddenly your buyer has a great place to read and relax,” Riordan says.

The final word

No matter which spaces you decide to stage, it’s good to have a central object and build your vignettes from there. A fire pit, for example, might call for some stacked wood, a lantern, and a cozy flannel blanket. The pool might do well with a lounge chair and a folded beach towel paired with a large brimmed hat.

Having a focal point keeps things from getting too chaotic.

“Vignettes are designed to be a bite-sized section of the overall home, so you want them to create cohesion and harmony,” Monte says.

Keep these guidelines in mind as you create the dreamy summer home your buyers can’t wait to get their hands on.

The post Make Buyers Swoon With These 4 Summer Vignette Staging Ideas appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

7 Crazy Things in Your Outdoor Space That Can Freak Out Potential Buyers

June 12, 2019

Liliboas/iStock

When you put your home on the market, your to-do list expands by about 1,000 items. You want everything in your home to be perfect, or as close to it as possible. So you get to work scrubbing the kitchen and bathrooms, clearing out the clutter from your closets, and putting fresh flowers in all the right places.

But for goodness’ sake, in all of your indoor hustle, don’t forget to give some TLC to your outdoor space. Not only will potential buyers most certainly check it out, but what they find there (cue the spooky music) could make them walk.

Or run.

Here are a few true stories of things that have turned off buyers before.

1. Spiders

Ryan Fitzgerald, broker and owner of UpHomes in Charlotte, NC, remembers touring a property once with an enthusiastic client. An offer seemed likely to happen. And then, “That’s when we ran into massive spiderwebs and spiders,” Fitzgerald recalls.

Not only were they all over the exterior siding of the house, but they were hanging between trees.

“It became clear that no one had been to this home in a while,” Fitzgerald says.

And his clients couldn’t see past it.

“They said, ‘Ew, I hate spiders. No thanks,’” Fitzgerald says.

2. Ants

Are you sensing a theme here? Just a few weeks ago, Cassie Nichols, president and owner of Origen Realty in Baytown, TX, was walking around the backyard of a home with potential buyers when she stepped into an anthill.

“A huge pet peeve of mine, that I’ve seen all too often, is a neglect for pest control,” Nichols says. “It’s hard to look professional while kicking off your shoes and slapping ants off of your feet.”

After that debacle, the numerous other ant beds all over the yard were impossible to ignore.

“It certainly didn’t leave [my clients] with the best impression,” Nichols says. “When a homeowner doesn’t take care of their yard, which is clearly visible, it’s not a leap for a buyer to question if other home maintenance was also ignored.”

3. Fresh kill

Talk about killing the deal. Dusko Sremac, a real estate professional at Re/Max First in Calgary, Alberta, recalls recent clients who were interested in properties with lots of acreage, with a price point over $1 million. More specifically, they were shopping for newer homes, with cabin-style features.

“These buyers weren’t the outdoorsy type, but liked the idea of a space outside the city with a rustic, outdoorsy feel,” Sremac explains.

But when they got to one property, “They immediately felt the vibes that ‘A hunter lives here,’” Sremac recalls.

It wasn’t hard to see why. In the backyard, a recent kill—a big buck deer—was prominently strung up, and still being worked on.

Sremac’s clients asked to leave.

“Sellers should keep in mind that what’s normal or acceptable to them isn’t always going to be OK for everyone else,” he says.

4. Squatters

You already know dead animals and live pests are sure to freak out potential buyers. But just in case it’s not clear, make sure to keep wayward people out of your outdoor space, too.

Several years ago, Michael McGraw, president of Northcap Residential in Las Vegas, was showing a client a home.

“When it came time to go to the backyard, we noticed it was a complete mess, but decided to walk the property anyway, because my client felt it had potential,” McGraw remembers.

Then they noticed a blue tarp, with legs and boots sticking out from under it.

“After my client and I grabbed onto each other, I called 911, thinking it was a dead body,” McGraw says.

Within minutes, several police cars arrived, but it turned out to be a homeless person, alive, but fast asleep.

“Needless to say, my client passed on the property,” McGraw says.

5. Confusing smells

When Bob Gordon, a Realtor® with Berkshire Hathaway in Boulder, CO, toured the property of a potential client, he noticed a door on the barn had several padlocks and warnings to keep out. Of course, he asked the seller why.

“That’s my marijuana grow,” was the answer.

“I suggested he just keep it locked and remove the signs,” Gordon says. “Nope, he had to have the signs, and said the last Realtor didn’t address the smell or grow space.”

As a result, a string of would-be buyers complained about the pungent, skunklike odor.

6. A real-life pet cemetery

Lewis Friedman, a licensed real estate salesperson with the Friedman Team at Compass in NYC, didn’t lose a deal because of a property’s odd outdoor environment. But maybe that’s because his clients didn’t realize what was in it.

The brownstone that Friedman’s clients purchased had previously been inhabited by four generations of the same family.

“The backyard was a jungle—completely overgrown,” Friedman says. “You could hardly walk 2 inches.”

Not until they did a renovation did his clients cut all the weeds back.

“That’s when they saw all these strange little stones,” Friedman says. “A few generations of the previous owners’ dogs were buried in the backyard.”

7. Mysterious holes

Justin Riordan, interior designer, architect and founder of the Portland-based home staging company Spade and Archer Design Agency, still vividly remembers walking through the house of a new client.

“He gave me super creepy vibes, but wanted us to look at the backyard for our opinion,” Riordan says.

Once Riordan and his team went outside, the client showed him a very large hole he had dug that was about 6 feet deep, 3 feet wide, and 6 feet long.

“I kid you not,” Riordan says. “It looked just like a grave.”

The client then prodded Riordan to guess what he thought the human-sized hole was for.

“I seriously expected to get hit over the head with shovel at any second,” he says. “The only thing that would have made it creepier was if he’d been wearing a kimono, and ‘Goodbye, Horses’ was playing.”

Riordan faked a phone call on his cell, said he had to leave, and did so ASAP.

Moral of the story: If anything on your property makes visitors think “Silence of the Lambs,” your home’s probably not going to be a quick sell.

The post 7 Crazy Things in Your Outdoor Space That Can Freak Out Potential Buyers appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Yes, You Can Even Feng Shui Your Yard for Maximum Curb Appeal—Here’s How

February 8, 2019

jameslee999/iStock

We’re sure you already know that using the tenets of feng shui can result in a home that hums with harmony. But while you might think of this ancient Chinese philosophy as a way to improve your indoor space, you might not realize it can be directed toward your home’s exterior, too.

Good feng shui outside allows you to welcome visitors peacefully—and even entice potential buyers.

“Curb appeal is an important feng shui principle because the energy that a house exhibits from the outside can attract prosperity and good fortune—such as buyers,” explains Anjie Cho, a feng shui educator and author of “108 Ways to Create a Mindful and Peaceful Home.”

Ready to take the feng shui outside? Here are seven spots to focus on when it comes to your home’s curb appeal, and the feng shui reasoning behind each one.

1. Front door

Photo by Rachel Greathouse 

A focus on your entryway is key because this spot is the main portal for energy to enter your home.

“Feng shui dictates that a welcoming doorway calls both energy and opportunity into the home and the lives of those who live there,” says Trisha Keel, director of education at the International Feng Shui Guild.

If your entrance can’t be easily found from the street, try to figure out why (you might need to get bigger house numbers or trim back some bushes). If good energy, or qi, can’t find your door, a buyer won’t either, Cho adds.

“Paint the front door red, which is an auspicious color in feng shui that attracts the eye,” Cho suggests.

And don’t forget about the walkway or sidewalk that leads to your home, points out Katie Weber, a feng shui practitioner and creator of the Red Lotus newsletter. Both should be in good repair because, like a flowing river, they bring beneficial energy to the house.

2. Plants and flowers

Photo by Mirage Landscape 

To boost your curb appeal, you probably already know some of the old tricks—like adding lush plantings, blooms, and colorful trees to your yard and front stoop. But following these tips does more than pretty things up.

“Flowers are the yang [positive] expression of a plant, which indicates its health and confers it to the home,” Weber says.

In fact, if you focused on feng shui only outside your home, it would be enough to raise your house’s overall energy and bring in growth and vitality, she explains.

Not the season for planting where you live? Keel recommends bushes and grasses in front, with seasonal color in pots at the door.

But a word of caution: Nix any kind of cactus in your planters.

“Avoid pointy plants at the entrance, as they foreshadow pain within.”

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Watch: 5 Genius Landscaping Tricks That Will Pay Off in Spades

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3. Exterior paint

Photo by Vic’s Masonry LLC

“Peeling paint indicates problems coming to light,” Keel says, so make sure to tackle any problem areas before an open house.

Good feng shui depends on a house that’s in the best shape, so be sure to keep up with small—but significant—maintenance tasks.

4. Lawn care

Photo by Tom Howard Garden Design and Landscaping 

A pristine lawn that’s mown, with healthy plants and free of leaves and branches, says, “I care about my home.” But it also adheres to feng shui principles.

“An unkempt lawn indicates that the home does not cultivate good energy,” Cho says.

5. Garage and driveway

Photo by Doug Abbott

We’ve got news for you: House hunters will peek inside your garage—and traverse your driveway to get there. Clean up these hot spots before it happens.

“If you have a lot of clutter or your pathways are blocked, potential buyers will feel heavy, scattered, and overwhelmed—and this is not what they want to feel in their new home,” says Kim Julen, a certified feng shui practitioner.

And don’t get us started on those garbage bins haphazardly sitting in your driveway. Your refuse has negative energy (plus, it stinks). Leaving those bins out in the open can bring down your entire home’s qi, Cho says.

“Garbage is only attractive to flies, so create a trash can corral and you’ll sell easier than if you just throw the bins in the garage,” Keel says.

6. Exterior windows

Photo by WA Design Architects 

It may sound hokey, but windows are the eyes of your house—and sparkling-clean ones are critical to feng shui curb appeal.

“Clean windows represent clear thinking and understanding, and dirty ones can make buyers wonder what else isn’t maintained,” Cho says.

Plus: “Dirt doesn’t reflect light, and it’s light that attracts people,” Keel adds.

7. Fixtures

Photo by Pillar & Peacock 

Got a sticky door or wobbly hinges? These point to carelessness and may deter a buyer.

“When things fall into disrepair, it indicates stagnant energy and it pushes life away, rather than bring it in,” Cho says.

Take note of rust around your home’s exterior, too.

“Rusty doorknobs point to a challenged career or difficult, untended relationships,” Keel says.

A wise buyer may pick up on these vibes—and move on.

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