My neighbourhood, which is a mix of older and cottage-style homes, has taken both a beating and a beautifying throughout the years. Some of the homes in the area sell very quickly, while others don’t. The main difference between in-demand properties and ones that languish on the market: outdoor improvements with loads of curb appeal.

The truth is, the maxim you can’t judge a book by its cover just doesn’t seem to apply to Toronto real estate − or real estate anywhere, actually. In fact, both urban and cottage homes for sale need to tell an engaging and appealing story.

7 Quick Improvements You Can Make Right Away

Not all home improvements need to be expensive. According to one homeowner in my neighbourhood (who reports selling three homes for top dollar), the top seven – and simplest ways – to get your home noticed are:

• A weed-free lawn-scape
• Trimmed shrubbery and lawn edges
• No clutter or junk on the property – the story of a well-maintained summer/primary house
• Fresh paint, including basic garage maintenance
• A well-lit entranceway
• Power-washed wood privacy fences
• Big bold house numbers that match the style of the residence

While exploring the cottages and homes in my area, I noticed these seven features were present on the most attractive properties. Inspired, I returned home, anxious to apply some ideas to my own exterior. I’ve since gained compliments and interested buyers, even though we’re not selling!

4 Worthwhile Home Improvement Investments

Willing to spend a bit more on beautifying your home’s look? These improvements offer the most bang for your buck:

1. Freshly painted exteriors and colour complements: Clean and freshly painted white porches with brightly coloured porch furniture capture buyers’ eyes every time. Colour-complementary flower pots and hanging baskets add to the charm. When complimenting one owner in my neighbourhood on her display, she revealed that all her fixings were obtained on sale at big-box stores and also at second-hand shops.

2. DIY Flagstones: Flagstones that are large and well-placed, curving invitingly up to a well-lit entranceway, are effective in drawing would-be buyers inside.

3. Low-Maintenance Greenery: At another cottage, an illusion of a porch was created by a harmonized balance of trimmed, colour-variated and no-maintenance shrubbery on either side. A splash of vibrancy broke up the monotony with a flowering vine cascading over one side of the roof-line, close to the front door. The overall effect was inviting, warm, magical, easy to emulate, and economical.

4. Add Bright Accents: Red accents are always traffic stoppers! One century-old home in my neighbourhood features an antique door painted hot red with plain, black iron hinges. Breathtaking!

I fell in love with another cottage’s rustic look, composed of a simple garden that included tall and healthy lavender, accompanied by a bright blue bench and a painted yellow watering can filled with wildflowers.

You can also create ample curb appeal even if you live in the heart of the city. One source acknowledged it can be hard to personalize a city home’s exterior, such as row-houses. The suggestion: add window planters and shutters; ensure good lighting and visible house numbers that match the style of the architecture. And always outline architectural features with classic shrubbery to avoid obscuring the building. Flaunt what you’ve got with simple gardening ideas!

Four Exterior-Improvement Don’ts

• An expensive, over-the-top deck that doesn’t match the style of your home or other homes in the neighbourhood
• A complicated garden scheme that a potential owner may not wish to sustain
• A new pool or hot tub, which many buyers perceive as too much upkeep and expenditure
• Overly decorative hardware and hidden house numbers

Two Golden Do’s

• Keep your renos at resale time simple and conservative
• Establish one focal point as your home’s feature or theme, such as a predominant mature tree, a walkway, or a primary door to attract the eye

Conclusion: It’s All About Curb Appeal

A cottage or home has the power to tell a wonderful and unique story. Make yours a bestseller by applying the power of cleanliness, understated elegance, and curb appeal, curb appeal, curb appeal!

Zoocasa is a real estate brokerage based in Toronto.

Sheila O’Hearn is a freelance and creative writer, and has worn many hats throughout her career, from general staff reporter to magazine editor. She has a keen interest in business entrepreneurship and currently writes for several outlets. Visit her at LinkedIn.


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