Why Curb Appeal Matters, And What It Means In The Digital Age

In this day and age, curb appeal is a little more crucial than it used to be, largely thanks to the Internet. Before, a prospective buyer might drive to your home and still give it a look even if something about the exterior turned them off because, hey, they made the drive and they might as well check the place out since they came all this way. These days, most buyers do their home shopping online, and if they’re not hooked in a matter of seconds (often less), they click over to the next listing.

First impressions have always mattered. After all, you only get one chance to pull them off. But they’re now more important than ever in a world increasingly driven by instant gratification with an ever-shortening attention span. If your listing doesn’t grab a buyer’s attention right away, they’re going to move on and forget about it forever.  

Before we get into how to adapt the term to the world we live in today, let’s revisit exactly what curb appeal means. It’s one of those phrases that have become a familiar part of our lexicon but when asked to define them precisely, a lot of people would be hard-pressed to do so.

Curb appeal is, in broad terms, how impressive a home looks from a casual observer’s point of view. In the past, buyers would absorb first impressions of homes while standing in the street or driving by, or what we can reasonably consider a curbside vantage point. Their initial impression from that point of view would usually determine whether or not they would go for an actual showing.

So sellers spent a lot of time to get that buyer up to the front door. They would be cleaning the exterior, adding things like shutters, repainting the front door, and landscaping and seeding their yard. The rule was that if the home didn’t appeal from the curb, buyers would move on to the next house, and curb appeal was therefore viewed as the single most important piece of the home sale puzzle.


Curb appeal is still crucial – but in a different way.

Today, since most buyers form their first impression from a home’s online photos, curb appeals matters in a slightly different sense. One could argue that it’s not just important in a different way, but that it’s even more important than it used to be.

Buyers will be scrolling through photos online as they go through dozens of listings per hour. This effectively lowers the perceived value of each choice they have. They’ll click over to the next listing if they don’t like what they see.

Further, buyers expect to see interior photos as they view your listing. So it’s not just about a home’s exterior anymore when it comes to first impressions; you effectively have to open up the entire place just to convince someone to drive to the address, let alone set foot in the door.

In other words, web appeal is the new curb appeal. And if your home doesn’t photograph well or isn’t properly staged, then curb appeal won’t even make a difference.


You need an agent who’s in step with the times.

Even great staging won’t help if you don’t present your home in the best possible light – inside and out – and that generally means professional photos. Buyers have become used to a certain standard, and that standard is a pleasing, well-shot set of viewable photos. Your listing should answer most questions a buyer might have before they even think to ask them, and that’s harder to do than it sounds.

You’ll want to get a seller’s agent who understands this, and lean on their expertise. I’ve written about this before, but your agent’s marketing makes all the difference in the world. They need to understand the importance of web appeal, and have methods that put that understanding into practice.

For example, homes with aerial photos sell 68% faster than those without. Homes with video listings sell 50% faster than those with just images. These are huge differences precisely because they deliver on the expectations that most buyers have. Your agent will know that neither you nor they can change the market’s expectations, but you can meet them in order to make the sale.

Unfortunately, this means you’re going to have to work a lot harder than you would have 15 or 20 years ago. In our ever-more-visual society, buyers make snap judgments about a home within seconds of clicking on the listing. The abundance of listings available on the web – even in a sellers’ market with low inventory – means that each listing has a lower perceived value and has more competition since other listings are a mere click away.

You only have one chance to make a good impression. The traditional definition of curb appeal still applies, but in order to get a buyer to view your home in person, your listing needs to look great on the web.


Are you thinking of selling your home this year, and wondering how you can use techniques like staging, professional photos, leading-edge marketing, videos, and aerial photos to get your home sold quickly and for the best possible price? Drop me a line in the comments or in the form on the right, and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have.


– Matt