Five Solid Ways to Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal

A sexy front yard can ramp up your home’s curb appeal without costing a fortune.

If you’re planning to sell – or even if you’re not – it’s a good idea to keep the outside of your home spruced up.

Following are five ways to up your yard’s sexiness quotient:

1. Think like a drive-by viewer. Your home may tell a very different story when seen from across the street. Is there an attractive transition from road to front porch? Does it feel welcoming?

2. You don’t have to splurge on a landscape designer to create a new look for your front yard. While you’re viewing your property from across the street, look at it as a whole. Consider the “hardscapes” like your porch, front door and walkway and the “softscapes” like plants, hedges and trees. Create a focus by painting your front door a different color, and keep the rest simple.

3. Peeling paint and cracked sidewalks say something about the way you maintain the house as a whole. Some elbow grease and a bit of paint can do wonders for your home’s curb appeal. Keep hedges clipped, leaves raked, lawns mowed and the kids’ toys stored out of sight.

4. Curved flower beds are more welcoming than a straight display. Choose plants and foliage that complement your exterior paint scheme and support the mood you’re going for. Bright colors like yellow, orange and red are attention getters. White is vibrant at night, and pale colors convey a calm mood.

5. Don’t forget about lighting. Make it easy for visitors to navigate your walkway and find your front door at night.

Buying a Home? It Pays to Think Like a Detective

You may not need a magnifying glass or a deerstalker hat, but thinking like your favorite fictional detective can give you an edge when looking for your dream home.

Sherlock Holmes, for example, would likely advise you to draw conclusions based on what you see.

Cracks in the walls could point to foundation problems. Loose caulking around the windows might indicate rot. Squeaky, uneven floors may be harbingers of expensive repairs.

It’s elementary, as Holmes might say.

Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, on the other hand, would recommend you put your brain cells to work. As a savvy homebuyer, you would quickly figure out the fact that outdated, poor-quality kitchen cabinets; old-style wiring; and plumbing problems will mean an expensive renovation, thanks to your own brain cells.

J.D. Robb’s mid-21st-century detective, Eve Dallas, might use high-tech gizmos to decide whether the house would fit your family’s lifestyle. But all you really need is a tape measure to check room sizes and storage.

And don’t forget the garage. Will the family cars, workshop and sports gear all fit?

In the guise of Ruth Rendell’s moody detective, Adam Dalgliesh, you could stroll around the outside of the house with an eye to water pooled around the foundation (implying poor drainage) or crumbling bricks that will soon need repointing.

And while you’re there, you might want to think like Christie’s Miss Marple and make inquiries about the neighbors and the neighborhood.

With her legendary understanding of the dark side of human nature, you may find that all is not as it seems.

Finally, if your inner detective decides the house is for you, well, it’s not over yet.

It’s now time to call in the expert. The home inspector is your final solution. Even Holmes and Poirot would understand that.