Getting ready to sell your home? Give buyers the best first impression.

There are so many steps to selling a home, it’s dizzying even for professionals in real estate. Whether you’re selling your home independently, working with a realtor to get the best deal, or are a realtor yourself, you know the importance of finding an eager buyer at the right price.

As you spend the majority of your time prepping for the sale from the inside, it’s easy to forget the outside. However, the first thing the buyer sees is the face of the building as they browse online. The first photo in every house listing, and the first thing any buyer sees as they pull up to the curb, is a view of the home from the outside with the driveway leading to the front door. If the walls and rooftop are immaculate, if the porch and driveway are free from any blemishes, the buyer sees a home that is well cared for, a home that will last a lifetime and be an investment for the future.

How do you provide this perfect first impression, and pave the way for a great sale? This process rarely requires extensive repairs or costly remodels, but centers around a thorough professional cleaning that makes everything look like new.

Steps to Improve Curbside Appeal

1. Look at your home’s exterior from every angle.

If you’re selling your own home, it’s hard to notice the little things that a buyer looks for. It’s time to look at it with fresh eyes. Notice where scuff marks and stains have developed, where the paint has become dull. Pay special attention to your roof, as this is the first place people look to judge the maintenance of a building. Make a list of everything you would like to change, marking any items you want to prioritize. Get a second and a third opinion to catch everything you want to change.

2. Make small but meaningful updates to the landscape.

If the garden can use a helping hand to improve the curb appeal, the two essential steps are to clear away the weeds and to fill any empty spaces. Research plants that will flourish in the soil without special care. Rhododendrons and hydrangeas can help a garden in Western Washington feel full without breaking the bank. Look at the other yards near the house for inspiration. You don’t need to have the showiest garden in town to capture the hearts of buyers; you just need something that feels like a part of the neighborhood.

3. Book a full-service exterior cleaning.

You may have time to clean the home by yourself, but what takes weeks for a few individuals takes only a few hours for a team of professionals with tech and training. When the proper tools are used for each aspect of the home, the results speak for themselves. Before getting started, be sure to mention any issues you notice in step 1 so the team has supplies and equipment handy.

To avoid coordinating with roofers, window washers, gutter cleaners, and everyone else you’ll need, we recommend seeking an exterior cleaning specialist who can take care of everything in one day. Indoor cleaning specialists deep clean carpets and scrub the walls. Our focus is on the outside: Restoring the beauty of the porch and deck, making the windows so clear they shine in the sunlight, and clearing any water spots and debris from the sunroof so the sun illuminates the room below. We take care to clean every inch of the walls, driveway and roof, and even clear the chimneys and laundry chutes.

You will be surprised by how many things can be cleaned rather than repaired or replaced. Cedar shake can lose its color over time with dirt and debris, but a gentle soft washing can bring it back to life. The same is true for any surface that seems to have lost its luster: Often that luster is just hiding under debris, waiting to be radiant again.

4. Give yourself time for a final look.

As the date a house listing goes live draws closer, it may feel like there’s no time for last-minute changes. Ideally, you will have at least 24 hours between the deep cleaning and when listing photos are taken, enough time to catch any missing elements of a gorgeous curbside appeal. Even if the problem can’t be solved before the photoshoot, you’ll at least be able to spot them before the cameras do. If you manage to have 48 hours or even a week to spare, even the most unpleasant of surprises can be resolved.

One final time, look at your home like you’ve never seen it before, and like you’re searching for a dream home when you stumble on it. What elements stand out? What draws you in? If you love the home you see, you certainly won’t be the only one.