By Annie Hoover, Sales Associate, ERA Reardon Realty, Jackson, Michigan

Here’s a realtor tip for the home sellers out there – while I’m opening the lockbox to your front door during a showing, my clients , your potential buyers, are checking out the care and maintenance you have or have not put into the exterior of your home.

Lax maintenance on the outside could signal neglect on the inside and lead to a tempered first-impression and lack of interest from the get-go. To help you set the right tone for every seller showing, here are the top six things to fix. And you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the price tag – under $500!

  • Shut the front door! Did you know the front door and surrounding details can make or break a first impression? If you’re on a budget, give doors a facelift with a fresh coat of paint and a new or recently polished handle and door knocker from your local or online hardware store. Paint can be bought for less than $200 depending on the brand and a really elegant door knocker or handle starts at $45 and up. And the best part? Save money on labor by knocking this DIY project out in just a few hours, including time for the first coat of paint to dry.Have a little more to spend? Consider replacing the door altogether with a fabulous and dramatic front door that fits in with your home and neighborhood. An arched distinctive door with side lights will knock the socks off any buyer!
  • Ring the bell! Make sure the doorbell works. If you’re handy, fix it yourself. Not so much? Then buy a new one (you can often find them for under $50) and ask your local hardware store employee or neighborhood handyman to help you install a new one. They’ll probably welcome the side job and you’re visitors (and realtor) will appreciate the attention to detail. Sometimes, it really is the little things!
  • Flaunt your accent! To add character and warmth to your exterior entryway, purchase a lovely and clean welcome mat. I love these elegant options from Also, hang an elegant outdoor wreath (check out Plow & Hearth for some as low as $40).
  • Grab your gardening tools! Anchor each side of the door with potted plants if you have the room. Potted plants are an efficient, fragrant and inexpensive way to add a pop of color – which is important. Check out these great blooms, especially for the month of June. Also, be sure to use ceramic or terracotta pots and avoid plastic containers to add a touch of subtle opulence.
  • Walk this Way! Create an inviting walkway to your front door with beautiful blooms or shrubs. My personal favorites are Hydrangeas. If you have an area to plant them in the ground along a walkway leading up to your front door, go for bright blue and pink colors – they have a huge impact and are typically very low maintenance and cost efficient. Check out your local greenhouses or price them out from reputable online growers and distributors. Depending on your preference, many can be found for under $30 and they are easy to plant.
  • Mask with Mulch! A few bags or small truckload of mulch can turn dry or imperfect soil into a rich and striking border along walkways and around trees and foliage. Depending on how much you need, you can as little as $3-10 dollars per bag.

Remember, the first impression can mean everything and while the possibilities to brighten up your curb appeal are endless – there’s no need to get overwhelmed. These six easy and cost-efficient projects can make all the difference, with less stress to you the seller.

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A writer at heart, Tara holds more than 17 years of marketing and communications experience. Previously a travel industry professional, she recently hopped the fence to gain a better understanding of real estate and to hone her Public Relations Skills. A mom and avid traveler, Tara tackles topics ranging from what to feed your kid to the next generation and great housing market locations. In line with her love of snowboarding, Tara’s next must-go destination is Sun Valley, Idaho – not for the celeb watching, but for the terrain and scenery.


  1. Please proof read your articles before publishing them, or have someone else do it for you. Great ideas, but the planting ideas should be what grows locally and in the planting zone. Some plants don’t do so well in the desert southwest and others don’t do so well in the pacific northwest. The ones mentioned probably do really well where you live.

    • Hello Ryan. Thanks for your input. Please let us know where you have identified a typographical error and we’ll have it fixed right away!