Real estate is all about first impressions. If you want to achieve early retirement through real estate, you need to under stand curb appeal. Most prospective buyers and tenants look at many homes, sometimes numbering in the dozens. If you are selling or renting out your property, you want to make sure your home stands out in their mind’s eye as one that is well-kept and somewhere they could visualize living.

The outside of the house is the first thing a buyer or tenant will see. In the majority of real estate listings, a photo of the exterior is the default or cover photo. If the paint is chipped and weeds are overtaking the front yard, what kind of impression do you think that conveys to anyone looking at the house? I’ll tell you: it’s not a good one.

In real estate, it is all about perceived value. To some, the methods of “unlocking” this value may seem hokey. Does repainting the trim with a fresh coat of white paint really make the house look that much better? It’s just paint! How is it that bright flowers at the doorstep will help me sell my house? They’re just flowers!

The truth is, anything that dresses up your home and doesn’t break the bank is usually worth doing. It can range from some very light landscaping work to completely staging the home.

Here are a few more ways to enhance the curb appeal of your property:

● Great photos
Since so many home searches now start online, hiring a professional photographer to capture your home in its best light is crucial. Make sure they are taking photos at the correct time of day – when a maximum amount of sunlight is hitting the house.

● Power washing
If the driveway is weathered or there is that green algae taking over the siding, power washing can make a world of difference to making your home sparkle. Even power washing a stained roof is not out of the question.

● Re-paint or stain the front door
Depending on the color of the exterior and the material of the door, it may make sense to paint the door a different color (some use bright pastels or bold primary colors to add a dramatic effect). If you want to preserve the door’s natural wood look, consider sanding down any imperfections and re-staining it.

● Plant some flowers
Bright, eye-catching colors will liven up the home’s entryway. By planting some flowers or having some potted plants by the door, you can make the home feeling more inviting.

For rehabbers or property investors who experiment with curb appeal but on a larger, neighborhood basis, this can have a tremendous effect on the perception of the neighborhood. By renovating old properties, you can organically attract buyers/renters to your area. Increasing the desirability of a neighborhood helps everyone as it can result in an increase in property value over time.