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Boosting curb appeal: Top 5 tips to aid power of your home’s 1st impression

Whether you plan to sell your house this year or after your last child leaves the nest, being a homeowner includes keeping the house in tip-top shape.

Yes, you can boost your sale price by updating your kitchens and bathrooms, but buyers will never even see your home’s interior if the exterior scares them off.

Every house needs curb appeal. You want your house to say “welcome” to prospective buyers, not, as Oz said in the “Wizard of Oz,” “Go away!”

Following are some suggestions from experts in the field and homeowners who have upped the curb appeal of their homes.

Be objective

“Step back and look at your house as though you’ve never seen it before,” said Chip Wade, host of HGTV’s “Elbow Room” and a home-improvement consultant for Liberty Mutual Insurance. “Even if you don’t use it, there should be a clearly defined path to your front door. After dark, the entry should have sufficient lighting. The address numerals should be visible and easy to read. If your front door needs to be replaced, now’s the time.”

Buyers will notice if your house needs a new roof or siding. These are costly, but they can make or break the sale. Long-term warranties tell the buyers they don’t have to worry about re-doing these projects.

One of Wade’s biggest bugaboos is the garage door, which can hog the screen in your house photo. “It’s a necessary evil,” he said. “But a substantial one will look better than a ‘builder-grade’ door. The new wood-look doors look real but are not as heavy as real wood.”

Ideally, your house has a front porch, said Wade. “Short of that, you can add a portico that’s big enough to keep your guests dry when it’s raining,” he said.

Before you add either to your house, read your city’s building rules and neighborhood covenants. They may say, for example, that there must be at least 40 feet between your home and the curb or you can’t use certain materials that are not common in the neighborhood, such as vinyl siding.

If you have a front porch that’s just decorative and not deep enough for chairs, it detracts from your house’s curb appeal, said Wade. Hire a contractor to remove this 1980s amenity, which only looked good on paper.

Adding a portico costs $2,500 or more.

Enlist the experts

“We did a lot of the work ourselves,” said Chris Berry of the 19th-century house he and his wife, Rebekah, remodeled in Elgin. “But first, we got professional advice.”

Before they bought paint, they hired a color specialist who helped them choose a set of colors that would have been used when the house was built. “And we hired a landscape designer to draft a plan that took summer and winter light into consideration, then planted the plants ourselves to save money,” Berry said.

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