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20 JAN

Curb Appeal

Curb Appeal

The squirrel looked at me with his beady eyes atop the mailbox. I just parked the car for a listing appointment in an equestrian community named Caloosa. The squirrel started making squirrel noises at me. Then I noticed another squirrel on a tree and then another and yet another. By the time I got to the front door, I must’ve had 50 squirrels all staring at me and making those squeaky squirrel noises. It was like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. As I was getting the tour from the owner, I gently brought up the squirrels. He said, “Ya, they started coming in from the roof and I felt bad and started to feed them. Once that starts, they just kept on coming.” He told me never to start feeding squirrels inside my home as they have feelings. I promised him that I would take his advice. He also had a giant pig who wandered on the property. I calmly brought up that the squirrels and the pig might be an issue for a potential buyer. He pushed back that people just had to visualize. Like a squirrel, I darted as fast as I could.

There is a scene in the movie, “A Few Good Men”, where Jack Nicholson tells Tom Cruise that he can’t handle the truth. For us Realtors, staging is like that. Sellers don’t always want to hear what they need to do. Some have bad taste. Others don’t want to spend money. Egos. Many don’t understand it. People who are artistic think others can visualize easily. Plus, who wants to put in effort and dollars just for someone else? However, staging gives you an incredible return on your investment. Most buyers want to buy “new” and have trouble visualizing how something will look. Thus, by staging for them, you paint the picture that they want to see and can’t paint themselves.

Ask yourself if you were in the dating world if you had put a picture of yourself online with unbrushed hair, a tomato peel in between your teeth, and a scowl? When you skip staging, that is somewhat what you are doing.

Well, I am here to help with your curb appeal grooming and get you asked out.

There are a lot of components in staging. Both the inside of your home and the outside. I filmed this video a few years ago and went over 18 tips that will improve outside “curb appeal”.


Curb appeal is the most critical part of staging a home because it’s the first impression.  If a potential Buyer doesn’t like it from a distance, they won’t even walk in the door to see it. Furthermore, as a Buyer walks closer to the entrance of a home, they are forming impressions of how well taken care of the house is and how they like it.  Having a Buyer forming a negative impression, getting in a rhythm of looking for problems or deciding that the home is too dated can cost 10-20% of the value in an offer or kill an offer before it happens.

Curb appeal staging can be broken into 3 parts.  The longer distance view from the street.  The walkway up to the house. Last is the entrance itself.  The video will go in depth into most of these items.

Long Distance Curb Appeal

1. Landscaping

Landscaping is oftentimes the most expensive piece of staging but it also gets the best Return on Investment. Your ROI is high on landscaping because it creates a view where there was none. It can make a boring home look attractive.  Landscaping also should be done with a landscaper who has a creative eye.  They must understand what plants do well with different exposures of the Florida sun.  Landscaping put in must be more mature as the Buyer who purchases for market value doesn’t have the ability to visualize how things will look in the future.  Last, landscaping should also be done from the inside out. Meaning how does the view look from the inside of the house when looking out various windows.

2. Paint the house

Out of date colors or blotchy old paint jobs should be addressed. Old paint = old house.  Dated colors = Buyers not walking in the door.

3. Roof pressure clean

Should be taken care of because will look grimy.  As a side note, landscaping should be put in after the roof pressure cleaned because chemicals can destroy the landscaping.  Protecting the landscaping should be discussed with the pressure cleaner.

4. Driveway pressure wash and paint

If the driveway looks yucky from the outside then a Buyer may not even come in.  If your driveway is stamped concrete, make sure a painter understands what type of paint to put on.  I’ve seen paint just peel off if the wrong material is painted on.

5. Landscaping to block any privacy or ugly points of vision

Strategic landscaping placement can block sight-lines of other homes and unsightly views.

6. Lush green grass

Brown or blotchy grass is a turnoff


7. Ivy or foliage or wrought iron or sculpture points of interest to block blah stucco

Stucco or wood can appear very dull like looking at a prison wall.  Pretty points of interest can break that up and turn a negative into a positive.

8. Pressure clean walkway

Dirt or old paint in the walkway starts to form that first impression

9. Flowers with color and/or Orchids

Make your Buyers smile and want to come in.  Color is needed so not everything monochromatic green. Orchids are wonderful but must be blooming so your Buyers will see the color

10. Tall vase with color

Tall vases with color can add dimension to a home and break up a monochromatic colorway.  Very important if you have a wood frame home.  A buyer won’t concentrate so much on the wood if there is a lot of color.

11. Mulch

Red is usually better than brown/black for staging purposes. This is because it last longer and has more of a burst of color.

12. Fountain

Can create interest, beauty and sometimes drain out noise from a busy roadway


13. Replace the white standard doorbell with something more substantial

A $14 white builder grade doorbell must be replaced.  Your buyer interacts with it and that visual and touch interaction is a strong first impression.  This is a less than $50 investment.  A Ring doorbell is fine but I think a decorative doorbell is best.

14. Fresh door mat with color

Spend $29 and get a good looking doormat.  Avoid rubber mats as hard to wipe your feet with.

15. Vases/flowers to add color

Add vases if burst of color needed

16. Door handle without rusted spots

Again, an interactive and visual exercise. Replace with something substantial. First impressions. If the door handle is weighty and they spent money on it then the rest of the house must be the same way…..

17. Pressure clean or paint door

Your Buyer will be staring at the door. Replace/Pressure Clean/Paint if necessary.

18. Possible bench

Sometimes a bench adds a visual scene and also can by used to block dull stucco.


There is one staging exception to all of this. Sounds squirrelly, but if a squirrel 🐿️ ever leaves an imprint on the wet sidewalk if front of your home, leave it be. It might actually increase the value as proved by one neighborhood from my hometown. You might just attract buyer who is a nut!



Jeff Lichtenstein, originally from Chicago, got his start in the home furnishings textile business where he traveled over 35 weeks a year selling fabrics. After the family business was sold, Jeff moved to Florida and became a real estate agent. Today he is the owner and broker of Echo Fine Properties, a luxury residential brokerage voted best brokerage of the year. Jeff manages a non-traditional model of real estate that mimics a traditional business model. Echo has 80 agents, an average of one million dollars per transaction and over 500 million in annual sales. Between traveling for work and annual family trips to national parks with his wife and 2 now adult children, Jeff has visited 49 states. He is also one of the few Chicago White Sox fans you’ll ever meet.  Some publications he has been quoted in.

Author of business & leadership book How Making a Sandwich Can Change Your World –  The Amazing Success of the PB&J Strategy – Available to Buy Now!

Feel free to ask him a question directly at including a complementary  valuation of your home.

Posted in Open House Blog, Real Estate Tips on January 20, 2024 at 7:43 am.


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