Quick, name the three best features of your home's exterior. If you're like many people, you'll stumble over the answer to this question.
"Whether you're positioning your home for a sale or trying to maintain your place in the neighborhood, you need a 'wow factor' that stops drive-by traffic in its tracks," recommends Don Zeman, a former contractor and host of the nationally-syndicated radio show, Homefront with Don Zeman.
According to the National Association of Realtors, 75 percent of people in the market to purchase a house begin their search on the Internet. A photo of your home's exterior on a realtor Web site can instantly determine if buyers will visit your home.
"Curb appeal is not a myth," says Zeman. "If you're selling your home and you've got peeling paint or a sloppy yard, you've lost the potential for a positive first impression. With so many houses for sale in today's marketplace, it's critical to invest in your home's exterior to get potential buyers inside your house."
Zeman, an expert in remodeling and home improvement products, recommends homeowners make it a priority to have at least three "first glance enhancements" that make a lasting impression on anyone looking at your home.
Enhancement #1 - Evaluate the condition of your siding. While vinyl and composite hardboard sidings are appealing because of their low maintenance requirements, brick still captures the highest audience appeal. "With today's product advancements homeowners don't have to invest in real brick to gain a terrific brick exterior," says Zeman. "Panelized products made of recycled gypsum and high-density polymer materials, like Performance Brick panels, can transform the exterior of a home. And, these panels are for retrofit applications, so they can go over existing siding to transform a home.
"The non-porous nature of Performance Brick panels allows them to resist moisture, which prohibits the sustained growth of mildew, mold and algae. Installation is fast and efficient with the overlapping and interlocking panels that are connected with a Fast-Track system. Best of all, you get the look of Old World, handmade architectural brick for a fraction of the price."
Enhancement #2 - Add color and unity to your exterior. Make the front of the home welcoming by adding colorful shrubs, decorative flags and potted plants in key visual locations. Landscaping should receive special attention year-round. Trim bushes away from windows, add hanging flower baskets to front porch areas and spruce up the entryway with new brass hardware.
Enhancement #3 - Transform a box-shaped house into an eye-appealing home by adding Bay or Bow windows. Along with providing homeowners with additional room on the interior of the home, Bay and Bow windows add character to the exterior.
"Imagine a Christmas tree as a focal point in a Bay window during the holidays," says Zeman. "These 'bump-out windows' add so much appeal to a home. When making a replacement choice, it's best to go with a highly energy-efficient window that's easy to maintain. In my house I put in Simonton vinyl windows. They ended up saving me hundreds of dollars each year on my energy bills and countless maintenance fees."
Enhancement #4 - Even if you have a focal point Bay or Bow window, most homes have a majority of Double or Single Hung windows. Add urethane crossheads, mouldings and millwork around each window to "trim them out" and make the windows a stand-out feature on your home's exterior. A simple crosshead and keystone can be added above a window in less than 10 minutes by any homeowner.
Enhancement #5 - Replace rotted or aging wooden porch rails and posts with synthetic QuickRail and QuickPost systems. Made from a unique multi-layered PVC composite formula, Fypon's QuickRail system will not decay, warp, fade, chip, splinter or rust. The QuickPosts are load-bearing Colonial-style posts that work with the railing system and are made of polyurethane reinforced with PVC.
"PVC and urethane are two exceptionally low-maintenance products that resist all types of weather conditions, extreme temperatures and never need painting," says Zeman. "Year-after-year, these synthetic pieces provide a home with curb appeal and hours of carefree relaxation."
For more ideas on curb appeal enhancements and product information, visit www.homefront.com.