width=172Curb Appeal in real estate terms used to mean how appealing your home is to potential buyers when they view the home's exterior. It was the first time they were seeing your home, and it sets the stage for the rest of your home. But this has changed with the use of Web sites such as Realtor.com, Facebook, and the local and national real estate agency Web site that is listing the house for sale.

The appeal of your home comes long before a buyer even gets to your front door - it starts online. And it is not just your front door that sets the stage, it is your entire house that the buyer can see, long before ever getting to your house.

So the first item of business: Make sure your photos are capturing your listing from the very best angle!

The photographs real estate agents use for a home on the Web are crucial. It is best to use a professional photographer who specializes in taking photos of homes for sale but if you can't afford one, there are several things to consider. Real Estate Blogger Web site recently released an article listing the Top 10 Tips of Photographing Your Home for Sale.

Among the blog's tips:

  • Try a tripod. It will not only help you keep the camera steady, but it will also allow you to concentrate on more important things-like getting that perfect picture.
  •  Watch your lighting. Don't turn on all of the lighting in the room and close the drapes, you'll get halos around the room's lamps. Use the camera's flash to get an even photo. Also, take photos of the outside gardens in the shade-it'll look better than when taken in the bright sun.
  •  Haul the clutter away. Take down the personal photos, too.

Remember: The photographs are your calling card. So if the photos aren't representative of your home's appeal than the buyer will never get to your front door. There's always another house just a mouse click away!

Once potential buyers are lured by your photos, you'll want to make sure the home's curb appeal doesn't let them down when they're there in person.

Take these steps:

  • Make sure your porch has adequate lighting and is clean and has easy access. Sweep the porch, remove the cobwebs, wipe off the finger marks from the doorframe, and polish the hardware. If the paint is chipped or cracked, make sure to touch it up.
  •  Make it clutter free. Just like the inside of your home, your outside needs to be clutter free too.
  •  Tend to the landscaping. Remove any overgrowth of landscaping that makes it hard to reach your front door.
  • Take an unbiased look. I actually have the sellers walk out to their curb to look at their home from the buyer's perspective. It allows everyone to understand what needs to be done.
  •  Add some flowers. Every season has blooming plants. Even if your landscaping isn't close to your front door, you can always add a pot with blooming plants - whether a few or just one.

I like to use terra cotta pots, which is the most neutral and flattering style pot for any season. In the freezing climates it may be more difficult to place fresh blooming plants outside. So if you can't, make sure there are fresh flowers greeting buyers once they walk in the door.

Also, when selling a house in the winter (and the holidays have past), I use spring blooming flowers rather than winter blooming plants - this helps to build anticipation and joy for spring.

So before that For Sale sign ever goes up outside your home, prepare your home online. Then your total curb appeal will be ready to draw in buyers!