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Investing in First Impressions

We’ve all heard the age old adage “you can’t judge a book by its cover” but when it comes to buying, selling or investing in properties we’re equally guilty of judging a homes quality, value and interior based on it’s curb appeal. While visiting family over the long weekend, I couldn’t help notice how some homeowners do a better job than others when it comes to playing up their homes best attributes and detracting from less aesthetically pleasing features.

Here are a few things to consider when looking to improve the outward appearance of your home and make the best first impression:

Landscaping – Tidying your yard has an immediate impact on your homes overall appearance and also on how others perceive it’s quality. Simple, inexpensive things like removing weeds, resoding or grooming your lawn, re-sealing your driveway, adding black mulch to beds, planting different types of flowers – ideally all of the same colour, using containers to highlight the entrance and create a focal point are quick and easy ways to improve the exterior of your home. For those looking to invest more, adding a stone walkway, resurfacing your driveway, planting more shrubs, trees and greenery, removing sod in lieu of more expensive but lower maintenance ground cover or even hiring a landscape architect are great ways to improve the look & perceived value of your home.

Paint – A fresh coat of paint is a quick, inexpensive way to breath new life into the exterior of your home. When looking to repaint, I always recommend neutral colours with black or white trim. If concerned about maintenance, trimming existing windows in PVC, using composite decking, railings and wainscoting are great ways to ensure less work year round. Garage doors should stay neutral as well, ideally the same colour as your home, to draw attention away from these areas and towards the main entrance or focal point. If looking to add more attention, paint your front door a bright, bold colour for contrast. If unsure, I’m a firm believer you can’t go wrong with a matte black front door. No matter what style of home, choosing classic colours will stand the test of time, while also appealing to passers by and future homeowners.

Entry – Most homes in the GTA, especially downtown, have metal awnings and concrete or wooden porches in need of a facelift. Repainting is a good start but depending on budget, consider removing the awning and/or rebuilding the structure altogether to improve the scale and function of your main entrance. Adding a porch or increasing the size of an existing porch to extend the entire width of your home not only makes for a more practical use of this space, it can also dramatically change its overall appearance.

Lighting – Upgrading fixtures on the exterior of your home is a quick weekend project with huge impact. Large box stores almost always have outdoor lighting on sale making it a relatively inexpensive way to improve your homes aesthetic.

Additional Details – Small to large changes in terms of both their investment and time to implement include updating house numbers, adding decorative trim, framing windows with shutters, installing a solid wood door and decorating your front porch are all relatively easy ways to add character, style and personality to your home.

Texture – Adding texture in the form of contrasting materials goes a long way when improving the visual interest of your home. Something as simple as power washing can make a vintage brick or stone home seem new again. If predominantly wood or siding, consider replacing with manufactured products to decrease maintenance or adding stone, stucco or brick accents to keep the cost down without sacrificing visual appeal.

Structural Changes – Although often a serious investment, in some cases adding a second floor, increasing the size of windows or adding dormers and extending the roofline of a home can dramatically improve its scale and symmetry. For projects this large, be sure to budget appropriately and enlist the expertise of an architect or designer that can ensure the correct permits, a solid structure to support any additional weight as well as the appropriate scale to balance other aspects of your home.

Whether looking to buy, sell or invest, spending a lot or a little on the exterior of your home is a fantastic investment. After all, as the saying goes “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression!”

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