An eye-catching exterior can lure buyers

Springtime is prime time for listing homes for sale in Georgia. If you plan to put yours on the market this year, don’t underestimate the importance of a first impression, say real estate professionals.

The National Association of Realtors estimates 63 percent of homebuyers will drop by after viewing a home they like online. What they see on a drive-by — aka the home’s curb appeal — can make or break a sale.

“Today, the average buyer considers 78 homes and inspects the interiors of more than 10 before making an offer,” said Bruce Ailion, a 33-year real estate professional and broker at Success Real Estate Brokers in Marietta. “Usually, buyers look at three or more houses during a house-hunting day. Seventy-five percent of their decision is made before they step inside.”

An eye-catching exterior can help lure potential buyers to see what’s inside, explained Ailion, who is a Walton Gas customer.

He describes a house with curb appeal as one that looks loved and nurtured. It has healthy, beautiful landscaping, attention to color and a welcoming approach. “When people first arrive at your house, you want them to think, ‘I could live there,’” the real estate veteran said.

Luckily, becoming the belle of the block doesn’t require a lot of time or money. Here are 8 curb appeal-boosting projects that can give you the most bang for your buck.

  1. Get your green thumb on.

A lush lawn is the holy grail of curb appeal. Keep the yard mowed, raked, weeded, fertilized and watered at all times, Ailion tells home sellers. While you’re at it, be sure to weed flowerbeds and add fresh mulch. Trimming hedges, bushes and trees is also a must.

Cut away branches from trees and overgrown bushes that block windows. Not only is this good for home security, it will also help get more light to the interior, which is always a good thing.

  1. Add high-impact landscaping.

Before you put away the gardening tools, consider dressing up the yard by planting shrubs and seasonal flowers to contribute to streetside impact. If your home’s foundation is visible, camouflage it with flowering hydrangeas, azaleas, knockout roses or large-leafed, flowering plants. The best choices for this purpose grow 3 to 4 feet in height and offer a touch of color. Plant them at least 2 feet from the house. Visit a local nursery or greenhouse to ask for recommendations. Walton Gas reminds you to always call 811 a few days before digging to plant a tree or shrub.

Call before you dig!

April is National Safe Digging Month, a time to remember to always call 811 a few days before digging. Call on Monday or Tuesday for work planned for an upcoming weekend, providing ample time for the approximate location of underground utility lines to be marked. Learn more at .

  1. Jettison the junk.

Go for a clean, streamlined look. The yard as well as porches, steps, verandas, balconies, patios and other extensions of the house should be uncluttered, stresses Ailion. Remove all toys, bicycles, tools, trash, etc. Store hoses and garden equipment out of sight. Firewood should be neatly stacked. Get rid of anything that is an eyesore, including old vehicles, unsightly outdoor furniture, swing sets, empty planters …you get the idea. If it isn’t attractive or necessary to your lifestyle, give it away, sell it, recycle it or toss it. While you’re at it, find an out-of-sight place to hide garbage and recycling cans.

  1. Shed new light on your property.

Replacing dated outdoor lighting fixtures can dramatically change the look of your home’s exterior. If you’re already using natural gas inside your home, consider investing in natural gas outdoor lights. Beyond aesthetics, low-maintenance gas lights also add a layer of protection when the sun goes down. The soft, amber glow of gas lights is ideal for enhancing a front entrance, walkways or the driveway. They also cast an attractive glow to highlight and enhance landscaping. Learn more about natural gas outdoor lighting in this article recently posted by Walton Gas. 

  1. Give your mailbox a makeover.

For a quick fix, remove all signs of deterioration, repaint and install new numbers, suggests Ailion. Replace a damaged or outdated mailbox with a new, stylish one. If there are flowers around the mailbox base, keep them well tended. install a new post, a few days in advance of digging.

  1. Focus on the front door.

The front door is a focal feature of your home’s exterior, so don’t forget to spruce it up. First, check to make sure the main door, plus any screen or storm door, is in good working order. Replace the door if there are problems that can’t be fixed. But if it is in good shape, updating the hardware and repainting can be just as effective. Opt for a bold paint color that accentuates and enhances the other colors of your home’s exterior. Check out this for help. Replace the knocker, handles or peephole with new hardware. If you have a traditional key lock, upgrade to a smart lock.

Once the door is freshened, check the doorbell. If you need a replacement, consider one with motion-activated video capabilities, such as the model offered by .

  1. Wash your windows.

Sparkling, streak-free windows can brighten up exteriors, even on a cloudy Georgia day. All it takes is a little bit of cleanser and elbow grease, reminds Ailion.

  1. Strap on the tool belt.

You don’t need to be Bob Vila to accomplish a few minor repairs that can make your home’s exterior look its best. Ailion suggests repairing:

  • Cracks in the driveway and walkways.
  • Fences that appear run down or sagging. Fix squeaking gates, missing pickets, rusty latches or peeling paint.
  • Gutters and downspouts.
  • Shutters and trim.

The house making the best first impression that appears to be the most spacious, the most cheerful and well kept will be the one buyers remember and want to see again, Ailion reminds home sellers. With a little effort and a few inexpensive changes, a fast sale at top dollar is possible.