Jim Sheridan | Burlington Real Estate, Billerica Real Estate, Reading Real Estate


Creating curb appeal is an essential ingredient to attracting potential buyers to a house for sale. Similar to the concept of "dressing for success," when you make a strong first impression, your chances for producing positive results are greatly enhanced.

Looking good from the outside is the first step to capturing people's interest, but that's only the first of several hurdles that you have to clear. The last thing you want to do as a home seller is disappoint prospective buyers when they start looking around inside. That's why it's important to start strong and finish strong! While that may be easier said than done, it's a principle of success you can't afford to ignore.

Once you put your house on the market, there are two factors that could potentially work against you: the elements of time and competition.

  • Time is of the essence: Time can either be your friend or your adversary, depending on how long your house has been on the market. When house hunters see the words "just listed," it creates a feeling of excitement and urgency. For many eager home buyers, those two words mean there's a fresh opportunity to discover the house of their dreams... or at least a reasonable facsimile! It's especially enticing to frustrated buyers who have already looked at a lot of homes, without having found the right one yet. When a new house is listed and put on the market, couples will be thinking and saying "Maybe this house will be the one!" Your challenge as a home seller is to do everything possible and cost-effective to live up to their expectations! An important factor to keep in mind is that the longer a house is on the market, the less appealing it generally is to prospective buyers. Once a house has been languishing on the market for more than a couple months or so, it also puts the sellers at a negotiating disadvantage.
  • Competition is a fact of life: Buying a house is weighty decision. No one takes it lightly, and few buyers are going to make an offer on a house if they haven't looked at several others, too. Well-organized house hunters will have wish lists, "must have" requirements, and detailed notes and recollections about how each house stacks up. So it's important to work with your real estate agent to present your home in its best possible light. When your home compares favorably to other similar properties on market, your chances of getting it sold within a reasonable period of time are greatly improved.
Maintaining an appealing exterior will help give you an inside track in the competitive real estate market, but making sure your property is in good shape from top to bottom will often be the deciding factor in how soon you get to the finish line!

Gardens can be quite difficult to maintain sometime with so many things that can go wrong. The weather is a primary factor; there will be slugs when it's wet, greenfly when it's dry, frost damage when it's cold and red spider mite when it's hot. So, both expert and novice gardeners can expect problems.

The big difference is that the expert knows what to look for and steps to take when there are garden troubles. Here are some ways to ensure a well-tended garden:

Pruning properly

It is necessary for guaranteeing fruit and flower production, but it is also crucial in the war against pests and diseases. Cut out dead wood. Remove overcrowded branches to provide adequate ventilation. 

Choose wisely when buying plants

Reject soft bulbs, lanky bedding plants, old seeds, unhealthy looking shrubs, and disease-ridden perennials.

Plan carefully

Make sure that the plant is suited to the site. Avoid sun lovers if the shade is a problem, avoid tender plants if the garden is exposed and prone to frost. Rotation of plants is essential for many vegetables so be sure to understand a plant’s nuances before choosing it.

Spray to prevent disease

Fungicides tend to be protectants rather than cures. So you should spray as soon as you see the rust spots. In some cases (e.g., black spot, peach leaf curl) you must spray before visible signs of the disease. 

Remove dead plants, rubbish, and weeds

Rotting plants can often be a source of infection, and some attract pests to the garden. Boxes, old flower pots, etc. are a breeding ground for slugs and woodlice. Weeds rob plants of food, water, light, and space. Hoe or pull them out - take care if you use a weedkiller.

Feed the plants regularly and adequately 

Shortages of nutrients can lead to many problems, weak growth, small blooms, lowered disease resistance and discolored leaves. But take care, overfeeding can cause scorch and unbalanced feeding with too much nitrogen can result in lots of leaves and few flowers.

Prepare the ground thoroughly

A strong-growing plant is more likely to withstand pest or disease attack than a weak specimen. Water logging due to insufficient soil preparation is the underlying cause of failure in heavy soils. Add a humus maker when digging. Remove perennial weed roots. Add suitable chemicals to the earth if pests have gnawed roots elsewhere in the garden. 

Talk to a landscaping company in your area for more gardening tips today.


If you're getting ready to put your home on the market, one of the best things you can do is adopt a "go with the flow" attitude!

Unless market conditions are ideal and all the stars are in perfect alignment, there will probably be a few ups and downs on the road to getting your house sold!

In all probability, there will be encouraging days and a setback or two, but with the help of a resourceful real estate agent and a little planning on your part, good luck is sure to come your way! What do we mean by the word "luck" in this case? The answer to that question can be found in a quote by the ancient Roman philosopher, Seneca: "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity!"

While a proactive real estate agent will create opportunities to attract potential buyers and present your home to its best advantage, the "preparation" part of the formula will mostly be up to you. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of that "window of opportunity" that opens up as soon as your agent puts your house on the market and plants a for sale sign in your front yard!

Curb appeal: Making a great impression from a street point-of-view can be one of your most effective forms of advertising. When your property looks neat, well maintained, and nicely landscaped, you'll be sending a positive message to potential buyers. By showing people that you have pride in ownership, they'll realize and appreciate the fact that your home has been well taken care of. Some homes require more preparation than others to convey that image, but when you pay attention to details, the desired results often follow.

Home staging: Staging your home for maximum impact involves strategies like arranging furniture in conversational groupings. In other words, if the configuration of your furniture lends itself to socializing, relaxation, and comfort, you'll be sending a positive message to people about the desirability of your home. It's also to your benefit to convey a feeling of spaciousness, cleanliness, and good taste. Although everyone has different taste when it comes to decorating, your real estate agent can offer helpful tips, based on their experience, objectivity, and training.

Most upgrades, repairs, and improvements to your house can potentially increase the chances of selling your home within the shortest period of time. Your agent can help you prioritize tasks you need to do to make a favorable impression on house hunters. They will provide you with professional advice on factors like cost effectiveness, urgency, and putting your best foot forward. In many cases, there are simple and relatively inexpensive measures you can take to improve your home's marketability, eye appeal, and perceived value.


Selling a house is a stressful experience. You have to look at your home with the eyes of a potential buyer and, when you do, all those nicks, stains, scratches and worn finishes become glaringly obvious. The same thing happens when you look around your yard: all those flaws you've managed to ignore all these years suddenly become visible. There are many things you can do--with or without professional help--to fix up your property and get it ready for sale. Most people focus on the house itself; after all, freshly painted walls and steam cleaned carpets do make a big difference. But there's one area that's often overlooked--one that can make a big difference not only in attracting potential buyers but also in sales value. "Curb appeal": you've probably heard the phrase before. But what exactly is it and what can you do to achieve it? Curb appeal is evident in that first glance at your property: does it look well-kept, is it attractive, does it look like someplace your prospective buyer would like to call home? The first step is to take a walk around your property, looking at it as if you were a stranger. It can be very helpful to have your realtor take this inventory with you--a trained eye can make a big difference. Look for the obvious things first: bald spots in your lawn, overgrown shrubs, cracked steps, dandelions, piles of leaves and sticks. Make a list of everything you see. It may seem overwhelming and you may not have the means to take care of everything, but prioritizing will help. If you can afford professional help, all the better; if you can't, there are things you can do yourself to improve the appearance of your property. The following list will help: • Start with general yard clean-up: remove any branches, piles of leaves or dead plants. If you have a dog, make sure there are no "land mines" on the property. • Reseed and fertilize your lawn; make sure it's kept mown and watered at all times while you're trying to sell. Take an edger and neaten up where the grass meets walkways and foundation. If you have areas of dead grass, consider treating for grubs. And, get rid of those dandelions! • Trim overgrown shrubs, especially those close to your house. If you don't have any shrubs, consider buying a few. Even a small evergreen on either side of the front door can make a welcoming difference. • If you have flower beds, make sure they're free of weeds. Renew or add a layer of mulch around flowers, shrubs and any trees you have in your yard. Not only does mulch keep weeds down and help retain moisture in the soil, it makes the beds look neater. mulch comes in different colors: choose one that will complement your flowers and your house. If your yard slopes, a low stone retaining wall will not only hold the soil (and flowers) in place, but it will also make the bed look neater. • What about the approach to your house--do you have a walkway? If you do, it may need replacing. If you don't, now is the time to add one; even a few simple pavers between the driveway and the front door can make a difference. If you don't have a railing on your front steps, consider adding one. Make sure your front door is clean and in good shape. • Do you have a driveway? If you have asphalt, look for cracks and oil stains. If you have dirt, consider laying down some gravel or pea stone. • Fencing can make a big difference in your home's salability. People with young children or dogs will most likely want one for safety's sake. Privacy is another reason for fencing; it doesn't have to be a stockade fence--a few fast-growing evergreens like arborvitae can make a big difference. Aesthetics is another reason to edge your property. If your home is in a rural area, you may already--like many homeowners in New England--have a stone wall around your property. If so, check it for loose or fallen rocks. • If you don't have any perennial flower beds, consider planting some annuals. Flats of bright, long-lasting blooms like marigolds and impatiens are inexpensive and add to your yard's beauty. As with any plants, consider the growing zone in which you live. If you're purchasing shrubs or perennials, choose ones that are hardy and require little maintenance. If the soil has a high clay concentration, loosen it up and enrich it by mixing in some loam. • If you have a deck, you may need to power wash and re-stain or paint it. Check for loose support beams; sand any areas that feel rough and might produce splinters. If you have a patio, make sure it is free of weeds and cracks. Consider replacing a cement patio with slate or brick which not only look nicer but are easier to replace. • Check your outdoor lighting; replace the bulbs, remove any dead insects. If you don't have any, consider adding some. If you can't afford wiring, solar-battery stake lights are inexpensive. If your mailbox is battered or wobbly, replace it. It sounds like a lot to consider and there's no denying that selling your home can be a difficult thing on more than one level. You want the highest price you can get, however, and these things that add curb appeal will increase your home's value and can make the difference between someone who makes an appointment to look at your home and someone who drives by and keeps on going.



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