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First Impression Fix

First Impression Fix

How to Add Curb Appeal Wow Factor on Any Budget 

By Ryan Walsh 

It can be love at first sight.  

Purchasing a home is a huge commitment, and potential homebuyers are rightfully particular. Like a job interview or a blind date, first impressions of a house for sale are crucially important and can often make or break a deal.  

With the advent of online real estate realty sites like Zillow and Redfin, the concept of curb appeal has greatly expanded to the virtual realm. Most in search of a home use an online resource first before seeing a home in person. For sellers, this puts the spotlight on the small things that may need fixing or sprucing up before listing.  

Lisa Baltozer is a board-certified REALTOR® and an associate broker at Keller Williams Gainesville Realty Partners and the vice president elect of the Gainesville-Alachua County Association of REALTORS® Board of Directors. With over thirty years of real estate experience, she has plenty of tips for ways to prepare a home for sale and improve its curb appeal, both online and in person. 

“Do as much for your home’s curb appeal as you can afford to do,” Baltozer said. “A lot of these things can be done in advance. If you know you’re going to sell, start working.” 


The breadth of opportunity for landscaping is a benefit to the seller. Small adjustments can go a very long way. 

“If a house has very little landscaping, try to add something to spruce it up,” Baltozer said. She offered her tips below.  


  • Edge along sidewalks and driveway 
  • Pull all weeds, trim back dead leaves from winter, remove dead plants 


  • Add flowers or potted plants for a pop of color  

Baltozer Tip: Plant the appropriate flowers for the season for added longevity. 

  • Add fresh mulch 

Baltozer Tip: Do this step last, as mulch may only look very fresh for a short period of time. Do not discount the great smell of fresh mulch. 


  • Re-sod where there is missing or dead grass 
  • Add shrubbery to baren front yards 

Baltozer Tip: Plant the appropriate plants/flowers for the season for both longevity and attention to detail. 

  • Trim tree branches that may obscure the front of the house 

Baltozer Tip: Home insurers will care about branches hanging over the house as well during a home inspection. 

See Also

Home Exterior and Porch/Driveway/Fencing 

These areas are going to be some of the first that a buyer sees when approaching the property – and not just the front of the house, either.  

“It’s important not to forget the back of the house, too,” Baltozer said.  


  • Blow off the leaves and pine needles from sidewalks, driveway and the roof 
  • Pick up all clutter around the yard (hoses, toys, tools) 


  • Clean out the gutters 
  • Paint the front door 
  • Shine or replace the front doorknob 
  • Pressure-wash the driveway and surrounding sidewalks 


  • Professional soft-wash to the exterior of the house  

Baltozer Tip: A house that initially looks like it needs a fresh coat of paint can be refreshed with a good cleaning. 

  • If the paint is too faded, then a paint job to the entire exterior may be necessary 
  • Replace any wood rot 

Virtual Curb Appeal 

Online shopping does not exclude the real estate market. Homebuyers will almost certainly check out the listing on the internet before seeing a place in person.  

“Driving by homes is kind of a thing of the past,” Baltozer said. “Curb appeal now also applies to the inside of our homes.” 


  • Take down all personal photos and private information – these photos will be on the internet 
  • Buy matching towels to hang in bathrooms 
  • Clear surfaces like counters and dressers 
  • Remove door mats and small rugs 
  • Remove all evidence of pets, like bowls, beds, litter boxes and crates 


  • Hire a professional photographer – the REALTOR®’s iPhone camera will not cut it 
  • Start packing to declutter 
  • Consider renting a storage unit for excess boxes and furniture 
  • Organize bookshelves, closets and pantry 


  • Paint the interior a neutral color 
  • Paint interior doors and trim white 
  • Replace dirty or worn carpet 
  • Hire a professional to stage the house with furniture and décor  

First impressions make lasting impacts. While many of these fixes can be DIY, Greater Gainesville is home to many landscapers, painters, home stagers and cleaners who can assist. For more information on these businesses, talk to a broker like Baltozer.  

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