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We’ve all heard “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”, right? Well the same is true for real estate. Once a potential buyer has seen the home you are selling, they will not typically ever come back: not if you lower the price, not if you do all new carpet and paint, not if you remodel the whole thing.

They’ve already seen it; they already know what it is.

And what’s the first thing they see when they arrive? Usually it’s the front lawn, any landscaping that’s there, the driveway, walkways, gardens, front windows, front of the roof and its accessories, front stoop, front railings and front door. This is also where some of the cheapest improvements can be made to a home for sale. Don’t waste a lot of money on buying gimmicks and costly improvements that just take away from your bottom line. Do a few simple things to give a great first impression of your house for sale.

Clean all gutters, downspouts and siding. Make sure they are free of debris and consider touch-up painting of any areas that have been scratched or damaged. Have any dents smoothed out if possible.

Homes that are for sale also need a clean drive way. Make sure it is swept and edge it if you can. If there is debris that can be washed away (bird droppings or recent spills, for example) you should take a couple minutes to clean that up. Often simply water and a broom can make all the difference toward a clean driveway. If there are oil spots try to remove them using a degreaser or other appropriate product.

Clean up the walkways. Follow the same steps you did with the driveway. Edge your paths, if you can, and make sure they are clean and bright. This sets the tone for the buyer’s arrival at the door.

Fine tune your entryway. If there’s any touch-up painting that will make an improvement, do that. Would new locks, handles, and/or knockers make it shine? Consider that small investment. Is the door in good condition? Do the windows need to be cleaned or shined? Really look as if you never lived there what would make a difference. Often a couple lovely planters, one on each side of the entry, can make a difference. Keep in mind symmetry when you are doing this. A well balanced entry makes a good impression.

Also make sure any landscaping or gardens are weeded and neat, add fresh bedding if needed. Add borders or trim if that would be an improvement, or edge the perimeter for a nice orderly look.

Lastly, declutter! If your home is going to be listed to sell, this is not only true for your house, but your lawn as well.

Move your lawn ornaments into the garage. If there are kids’ toys or equipment visible from the front, put it away, move it to the back or take it down entirely. Any signs should be taken down (except for your real estate sign of course), garden trolls, pink flamingos, wind chimes, lighthouses, chicken coups, bird feeders – gone. Pack ‘em up and let your lawn show itself off. The only things that can/should remain are things like night lighting, or if there are any enhancing features, like a running fountain, a lovely arbor, or special masonry.

And if you’re struggling to look objectively at hour home, call a Realtor. This is what we deal with all day, every day. We can tell you quickly and easily what will be an improvement and what will not.

Alexandria P. Anderson is a Minnesota Realtor with Re/Max Advantage Plus. She loves blogging about ways that people can improve their homebuying and home selling experiences. Visit her site to learn more, here: