It takes potential buyers no more than eight seconds to decide whether or not they like a house. But Kerb Appeal is more than just a good-looking house – even the ugliest house can have it. A house with real Kerb Appeal lifts your spirit – it's a house where the front garden is well-presented, the railing is in perfect condition, the door immaculately painted, with shining new hardware, and perhaps with roses growing over the door.
Buyers look for evidence that a house has been well maintained. Any sign that they will need to spend time or money may put them off. Rotten door frames and peeling paintwork, for example, present an obvious bartering tool.
Improving the appearance of a property doesn't necessarily have to be an expensive project – but there are a few rules. 'No DIY is better than bad DIY' . Badly painted front doors with drips running down them, or dirty looking houses are a no-no. A lack of cleanliness can be very off-putting.
TOP TEN TIPS;
1. Paint your front door. It sounds simple but this is the first thing that people are going to look at. Strong, bright colours in full gloss are popular at the moment but if you haven't got the nerve, white or black is always a safe bet, or a flat, dark plum colour such as "Pelt", by Farrow & Ball. For a contemporary look, matt, muted and washed-out colours are favoured in smart streets.
2. Invest in quality front door furniture. "Spend an extra £100 to get really good quality items. Cheap generally looks cheap." Try to choose furniture in keeping with your property; heavy Victorian door knockers and Victorian letter boxes will look ridiculous unless your home is Victorian. For a more contemporary look go for chrome door furniture. More Handles has a huge range of front door ironmongery to choose from. Avoid tune-playing door bells!
3. Lighting is vital. Placed either side of the front door to add symmetry, or an antique lantern hanging in a portico entrance can look lovely. Don't be afraid to try out lights in situ before you commit; if they're too big or too ornate they can look brash. If your property is approached via a garden, light it sensitively. Good garden lighting is unseen. Hide lights in the trees or conceal them in the garden path or drive.
4. The approach to the front door. Steps, paths and driveways should be swept of leaves, and free from rubbish. Cars, bicycles, trailers must be neatly parked. Hire a power washer and clean the driveway, decking and paths, re-paint the railings. Decking and exterior woodwork can be made to look like new with a little elbow grease and the right product such as the OSMO range of wood oils.
5. Numbers and House Names. Wonky numerals, badly painted names, or plaques with pictures (such as birds, trees) do no justice to the front of a house. For houses with fanlights the number or name can be acid-etched into the glass, or cheat with some frosted-look vinyl. House names and numerals can be wrought into gateways, or inscribed tastefully on brass or slate, and screwed to the gate post or porch.
6. Windows. Windows look sad when they are dirty, so make sure yours are cleaned regularly. Rotten window frames are also unacceptable and if you're putting in new ones, make sure they are appropriate with the design of the rest of the house. All curtain linings and blinds should match when seen from the street or driveway.
7. Gardens and Greenery. Cut the grass and trim the hedge! However small the space is, add some greenery. You don't need a big garden to plant a creeper, and houses look beautiful with plants trailing up them. You can easily buy or make window boxes yourself. Landscaped beds with colourful planting and box hedges set off the front of a house; or for smaller spaces, such as either side of the front door, planters with box topiary. Remember though that some creepers are not good for brickwork as they can pull the mortar out of the pointing.
8. An impressive entrance. A gate is a "must have" for a country house. But entrances should reflect the period of the house; wrought iron electric gates are in keeping with a new-build home, while a white-painted gate with simple stone pillars is better suited to a traditional house. Carved lions and eagles should really only adorn the entrance pillars to stately homes and castles!
9. Spruce up a tired façade. Repaint, re-point, or render over ugly brickwork. Don't go too crazy: paint colours should be more sensible than on the front door, and in keeping with the period of the house, and the ones either side, if you live on a street.
10. Don't let the house next door ruin your Kerb Appeal. If your neighbours have rubbish outside their house, why not just remove it, rather than whinging about it. If you're trimming your hedge, ask if you can do theirs while you're at it – 10 minutes mowing, or rubbish collecting is worth the effort. Try to conceal rubbish bins behind a hedge or a small fence. If you have to have them on show, make sure they are clean and the lids are on.