Yesterday morning before going back to my realtor’s post, I received an email from Realtor Jeffery Menday [1] which instead of bragging about having sold this or that house provided something of great value for neighbors seeking to sell their house and the Realtors who are helping them in this effort. I republish the list in full …

Mow the Lawn: An overgrown lawn is the equivalent of a bad haircut. One of the cheapest but most critical home improvement fixes involves cleaning up the lawn. Cut the grass, clean paths and walkways, clear away the clutter, and trim the bushes. The sweet summer scent of freshly cut grass is a bonus, especially if you’re trying to sell the house. For many buyers, it’s a sign that your house is well cared for.

Wash the Exterior: Cleaning the outside of your house is both cheap and surprisingly effective. Scrubbing the exterior can brighten he colors and might even eliminate the need for a fresh coat of paint. To stretch the existing paint job, use a hose with a spray nozzle to rinse off the dust and dirt that dulls the color and finish. For heavy-duty exterior cleaning, rent a pressure washer and blast away stains.

Tidy Up the Entryway: Wipe off visible dirt and grime, especially near the entryway where people get up close and personal with the house. Sweep the main walk and steps up to the entrance and wipe down the door (and window, if applicable). Remember to power wash or machine-wash the welcome mat.

Make the Front Door Memorable: The front door is both barrier and passageway, so make it a focus of home improvement efforts. If cleaning reveals cracks or peeling paint, give it a fresh coat and consider a new, bold color that will liven up the overall appearance of the house. Old or tarnished doorknobs should be replaced with newer hardware that feels sturdy in the hand. Then again, it may be worth replacing the door entirely. Home improvement stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot stock new doors at a variety of price points. Consider design elements like windowed insets.

Make the Entrance Welcoming: Once the door is in tip-top shape, add character to the entryway. A bright and seasonal wreath or potted plants are cheap and easy accents. A selection of blooms on the porch or hanging from windowsills will brighten anyone’s impression of your home before they even walk through the door.

Clean the Windows: Clean windows do so much for the appeal of a home. Wash the windows to let more sunlight inside while presenting that new-house look on the outside. This means keeping the windowsills and shutters clean, as well. If your shutters look worn after a good wash, a fresh coat of paint is an easy way to instantly lift the outer face of the house.

Keep Water Flowing: Make sure that water flows away from the house, rather than seeping into the foundation or pooling around the base or walkways. Likewise, keep the gutters clear so that water flows down the spouts rather than dripping over backed-up canals. These little fixes help preserve your home’s infrastructure and signal that it’s properly maintained. Moreover, who wants to step over puddles or dodge water dripping from overhead?

Use Eye-Catching Flora: Bring all-season cheer to the front lawn with flowers, plants, and bushes. Flowers provide pops of color that can make the yard seem more lush and luxurious and attract colorful birds and butterflies. Shrubs and other plantings serve as natural fences and create more privacy while giving your home that well-loved look. Plant flowers along the walkways or cluster them as a mini-garden in an obvious spot. Buy seeds from home improvement stores or transplant potted flowers from a local nursery. For a colorful garden display all spring and summer, plant different flowers that bloom at staggered intervals.

Enliven Existing Landscaping: Laying down fresh soil will keep your flowerbeds in good health, while fresh mulch gives your landscape a uniform and fresh look. There’s an upfront cost to mulch, but it keeps going for a couple of years. Lay it down this spring and next year all you have to do is turn and plump it to achieve the same results.

Focus on the Small Details: Craft a personality for your home with small and inexpensive upgrades. Think like an interior designer. Replace old or peeling address numbers with decorative new ones. Look for antique lights or torches for the entryway at flea markets and garage sales. Replace or repaint the mailbox, and add ornamental touches to flowerbeds with small figurines or fencing.

What would be ideal for neighbors to do? Well, if you really want to be welcoming of the new neighbor – or perhaps simply to do all that you can to have the neighbor from hell next door gone – you might want to consider doing a number of these things on the list. I’ll go over each, though some I lump together. 

Mow the Lawn: Looking at this negatively, you might want to do this to prevent a missappraisal as to where the boundary line is. Looking at this positively, you are managing perceptions as to what you expect for the neighbor coming in. Specifically, the lawns in the area are not unkempt, so if you aren’t willing to keep yours up, this property probably isn’t the right one for you.

Now, I realize that there may be some who think, but then I’ll be held to that standard too. Maybe, but almost always the case is such that it is easier to come down to a lower standard – if that is what you want – than later trying to raise the bar to a higher one. 

Wash the Exterior; Tidy up the Entryway; Make the Front Door Memorable; and most imortantly … Make the Entrance Welcoming: The analysis here is similar to managing expectations given above. But, there is an added point. Prospective purchasers who have signed a purchase and sale agreement have a three day right of rescission [that’s fancy legal speak for the right to untie or undo a deal].

What is supposed to happen during this period is that the prospective purchaser checks out the neighborhood including – if they are sufficiently couragous [which they ought to be] – to talk to the neighbors to make sure they indeed found their ideal living situation.

So, make your door, entranceway, etc. inviting. Who knows you might actually get your prospective new neighbors to come over and introduce themselves to you, so you can get on positive terms right aways.

Clean the Windows: This again helps to increase the neighborhood curb appeal which serves to set the standard for new purchasers.

Keep Water Flowing: It is not only important that you make sure that water runs away from your house, but that it doesn’t run toward the house of someone else. Especially with the number of hills and rainfall in Seattle, if you don’t do this you are setting yourself up for trouble with your neighbor from day one. So, if this is an issue which falls squarely in your court … just get it fixed.

Use Eye-Catching Flora; Enliven Existing Landscaping; Focus on the Small Details: Here again, spending 2, 3 hours of work to make the quality of your house and that of your neighbors more valuable is probably going to be worth the ‘cold one’ which you will so rightfully deserve when you are done.

Overall, and believe me I personally realize that this is much easier said than done, don’t be indifferent about your real property. As ‘Landed Gentry’ do your best to keep it up and it should have positive effects for you and your neighbors. Cheers!

 Find the website for Jeff Menday [HERE].