If you’ve ever put your home up for sale, you know how important curb appeal is to attracting the right buyer quickly. If your house doesn’t have that little something when they pull up, they might not even come inside. And today, as more people find your home online long before they show up in the driveway, something else is starting to matter a whole lot: digital curb appeal. Here are a few ways to make sure your on-market home has it.
What Is Digital Curb Appeal?
Digital curb appeal is a new variable in the curb appeal equation for home sellers and home buyers. Not only does your home need to shine like a diamond when potential buyers show up, it should also look amazing online.
“Every listing begins online, even if all an agent is doing is throwing it in the MLS, as 80% of homebuyers begin their journey online,” says Maureen McDermut, realtor with Sotheby’s International in Montecito, California. “I ensure every home I list is professionally staged and architectural photos are taken. When it comes to the exterior of the home, I am often contracting landscapers, roofers and other assorted services for my clients to ensure the home photographs well. One of the most common things I urge sellers to do is change their entry door. Entry doors are the top return on investment improvement you can make to your home. An investment in a $300 door can lead to an increase of $7,000-$10,000 in the sale price of the home.”
Unlike physical curb appeal, digital curb appeal is about more than just the outside of the home. Buyers get a chance to look through your entire home virtually, so it’s important that digital curb appeal extends to every part of your home’s listing by creating a great subject for solid photography.
“Before physical curb appeal, buyers see the digital curb appeal through online media,” says Abdul Hasib Azizi, broker and global advisor at Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in St. Petersburg, Florida. “For example, if we see a picture of a room which is clean and decorated nicely, using good color furniture and so forth, it automatically attracts us to learn about it more. Finally, it will make us want to go and see it in person, and to purchase it. So digital curb appeal is really an important part of a listing that can provide a good or bad impression on a property.”
Putting Your Best Digital Foot Forward
If you’re considering listing your house this year, there’s a lot to think about before you do. Even before you choose your agent, it’s not a bad idea to see how they manage their clients’ digital curb appeal.
“Buyers lose interest after 5-6 photos; therefore it is essential that your best photos are at the start,” says Lindsay Neuren, principal agent of the Speed & Neuren Group with Compass in Austin, Texas. “Buyers want to see the gorgeous kitchen and bathrooms as well as the incredible backyard and living room. These first five photos should be absolute showstoppers to keep the buyer engaged and clicking through the remaining photos.”
Of course, you’ll be expected to help with the work of making your home absolutely sparkle online. If your home is picture perfect, the pictures can’t help but be enticing.
“Realtors can’t make all the magic with a camera,” said Neuren. “Declutter, declutter, declutter. A lot of my clients love the process of staging their home to go on the market because it forces them to start to get rid of things they no longer want or need. We also recommend adding greenery throughout the house. Light paint and updated light fixtures are the most affordable way to make a home feel updated and fresh. We always recommend fresh landscaping and dark mulch right before going on the market as well.”
Most agents will agree that decluttering makes a huge difference; other changes can also help potential buyers see your home as theirs. After all, that’s the real goal. No matter how cool your stuff is, if your potential buyers can’t see past it, they’ll pass you by every time.
“Follow the three D’s: depersonalize, declutter, and decolorize,” says Frederick Warburg Peters, president of Coldwell Banker Warburg in New York City, New York. “Get rid of everything extraneous in the property, so its basic architecture is visible. Take out highly personal items. And paint it a light color. Remember, the goal of preparing a home for sale is to make it into a product with broad appeal.”
Even if you’re on a budget, you can create a huge impact on your pool of potential buyers while spending almost no money at all with just one simple task.
“Stripping the home of excess and overly personalized items can make a big difference, even if no money is to be spent,” says Peters. “A sparsely furnished property always has a wider audience. Virtual staging can also be worth considering, which involves a far smaller investment than renting furniture.”
What to Know When Preparing for Your Listing
Depending on where you live and what time of year you list your home, you should be ready to have offers as soon as the listing goes live if your digital curb appeal is high. Some buyers might not even visit your property until after you’ve accepted an offer from them.
“Buyers today are impatient,” says McDermut. “When they search in a ZIP code for a home, they are given multiple homes presented to them all at once. That first impression they get from the photos they see will determine whether or not they even decide to see the home physically. I have had offers on homes sight-unseen due to the digital curb appeal of a listing.”
On the other hand, if your buyers are more traditional and want to see your home in person, it can feel like a big job preparing your home for both physical and digital curb appeal. Making lists of the things that need to be done is important, doubly so if you’ll be hiring service professionals to check off the things on your to-do list. But it’s also important to start really simply and review your choices as you go through the process of preparing your home to be its digital best. Sometimes it really is just as easy as it sounds.
“I highly recommend and suggest to homeowners to start with decluttering so they can get more space,” says Azizi. “Next is cleaning, which is a simple thing to do, and then see if the property needs a fresh coat of paint. This process really helps both in digital and in-person impressions on the curb appeal of the property.”