Twelve Silicon Valley Doors, shown as black & white (photos by Mary Pope-Handy)

Thinking of selling your Silicon Valley home?  When your house or condo is for sale, curb appeal is crucial because if buyers don’t like what they see on the outside, they will not bother to see what’s on the inside!

It’s hackneyed but true:  “You never get a second chance to make a first impression“.

This is no where more true than with front doors! Staging begins on the front porch.

In my real estate practice, I usually see at least 10 or 15 San Jose, Los Gatos or Saratoga area homes per week – usually many more than that too.  A good, clean front door with nice paint or varnish, no dust, clear glass and sparkling hardware gives a good welcome to your home’s visitors, whether they are coming as prospective buyers or simply as guests.  Amazingly, though, not every home seller gets this basic principle quite right. Very often, front doors are dusty, dirty, in need of paint or perhaps even in need of replacement.

And we’re just scratching the surface!

Exterior home doors found all over Silicon Valley

A home’s front door sends a message. What message does yours give off? Photos by Mary Pope-Handy

Here (to the right) are some doors I’ve encountered in my work as a Silicon Valley Realtor. What do you think of each of these?

Some homes have a “security screen door” in front of the regular front door, which is mostly obscured.  What message does this kind of strong grill give?  If it’s the only one on the street, it might imply that one person nearby has concerns about safety. But if there are several doors like this on the same street or nearby, it can give buyers concerns about the safety of the area.

The black door with the white trim in the center is a typical or average San Jose or Santa Clara County door.  It has a painted exterior and a fan light window on top, which allows some light into the home.  It’s a little more inviting than something without any windows, but there’s no cover for rain or an inviting front porch, either.  This type of door is not super expensive, but it does come across as at least fine, if not “good”.

Some of these doors are not the front door. I once viewed a listing which had access through a scratched up door facing the backyard, and when I shared the photo several people asked if it was a short sale or bank owned property. To everyone’s amazement, no, it’s a “regular sale!”  This kind of introduction to the property, is anything but regular and left far from a good first impression!  It is a discredit to the agent and the seller to put a home on the market with such a terrible first exposure to a property.

Assuming that the door of your home is functional, you should not need to replace it in order to market your home for sale.  In most cases, the door should be cleaned (power washing the exterior of the home is usually a good idea for most sellers), and in some cases it should be painted too.

If you do need to paint your home and/or door, please know that some colors ARE better than others.  A natural wood, black or deep red are all good feng shui colors.  Many buyers also respond well to dark brown and white front doors.  Far less accepted are colors such as light blue, pink, purple, orange, and green.  (Yes, one of the doors in the above collage IS green.)

Need to replace your front door?  Before doing it, take into account the architectural style of your home, its orientation and need for light or need for privacy. For the sake of resale value, you don’t want the cheapest, ugliest door, but you don’t need to buy the most expensive either (because you won’t see a return on your investment).

Also, don’t forget the hardware!  Things like grimey hinges, worn out doorknob, or a missing threshold can register with a buyer that “something’s not quite right”.  Make it shine & make it complete.

Finally, finish off your front door preparation with a nice mat and pleasant annuals near the front door for a splash of welcoming color.

Now you’re ready to roll – at least on the front porch. But remember that front doors, like the rest of your home, won’t stay clean by themselves. Be diligent about looking after it while your home’s for sale. Hose it down, or, better yet, take a feather duster to it every few days to make sure it maintains that welcoming, turnkey look.