The One Place Where Boosting Curb Appeal Can Be Tricky

published Aug 25, 2023
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When you’re looking at a single-family home, it’s all about that first impression. Curb appeal is everything — from the front door color to flowers in the yard. But when you’re looking at a condo or co-op in a big city building, do you stop to take a look at the outside? Or do you waltz right by the exterior, not giving a second glance as to whether there are planters out front or if the door has been freshly painted?

Even if it’s not top of mind when you walk into a larger complex (maybe you’re eagerly awaiting the pre-war details or ultra-modern aesthetic waiting for you on a higher floor), those first moments can set the tone for the entire experience.

“Curb appeal may be in the traditional sense of a suburban home’s well-manicured lawn, but it’s every bit as vital [in a building]. It’s about the aesthetics of the entryway, the condition of the lobby, and the overall cleanliness,” explains Long Doan, cofounder of Realty Group. “The curb appeal of a building speaks volumes about what a buyer can expect inside in terms of quality and care.”

Ahead, find out why that matters for buyers, as well as what sellers can do about it (even with an HOA!).

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First impressions are everything, even in a condo building.

While broken tiles in the foyer, a dark elevator, or peeling paint might not be what you’re buying when you go to look at a renovated co-op, they’re all part of that first impression. 

“What a building chooses to do with its awning and the choice of decor in the lobby is critically important,” says Nicole Beauchamp, senior global real estate advisor and licensed associate real estate broker at Engel & Völkers. If you walk up to a building with an awning that’s tattered and torn, is that what you’ll want to greet you every day when you get home from work? No matter how gorgeous a condo is inside, that curb appeal (or lack thereof) is going to color the rest of the experience.

“Crucial aspects to consider include an inviting entrance, strategic landscaping, pristine cleanliness, distinct signage and prominent security features,” adds Rachel King, a real estate agent with SERHANT.

And this isn’t just about buyers wanting to come home to a pretty building, although that plays into the equation. She notes that the exterior of a condo reflects its management, care standards, and condition. If the condo building isn’t spending on a new front door, what other maintenance problems are they letting slide?

Here’s what you can change.

If you’re a seller, you might not have control over making curb appeal changes prior to listing your property. The front door probably won’t be replaced in a timely fashion, and new lobby furniture likely isn’t in the budget this year. Plus, the building’s board could stand as an obstacle when any changes may have to be approved by an HOA committee, which isn’t always an easy process. But there are typically a few quick changes you can make to spruce things up and wow buyers from their first impression.

“Ahead of an open house, add a fresh welcome mat, a power wash, and check on lights,” suggests King. 

Beauchamp adds that she has clients who’ve contributed to lobby flower choices ahead of their open house. It’s an easy, non-permanent change that is low-cost and won’t raise any objections with most HOAs — and it might even distract from the faded awning.