So your house didn't sell during the summer.
Now the colorful annuals are dying, the leaves will soon be dropping, and the mortgage still needs paying.
Fall and winter may not be the busiest home-buying season, but houses still move. And curb appeal is as important as ever.
"I think fall's a good time. A lot of people want to sell before Christmas, before January. So a lot of people will reduce their prices. Summer's over, and they're getting scared," said Tiffany Sowards, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker. "This is definitely the time to give a little facelift, to spruce up. "
With fall leaves dropping to the ground, potential home buyers have a clear view of your home's exterior from the street. And with some blocks offering several houses for sale, the first impression is crucial.
"It's a fact that if the outside is not inviting, people are never going to get to the inside," said BeBe Butler with the Home Staging Group in Columbia. "Many times the inside is cute as a peach, but people don't get there."
We asked real estate agents, staging experts and designers for ideas on how to improve your curb appeal for fall.
Here are a few of their suggestions.
Mulch, mulch, mulch. Some flower beds may lose their color in the fall and winter, but they still need to look neat. Add fresh pine straw or a new layer of mulch.
Make the door stand out. A fresh paint job - especially in an eye-catching red or blue - can make your house stand out. If your door is black or natural wood, add a fresh, shiny coat of stain. Consider adding a new door-knocker, knob or house numbers.
Porch plants. Add or replace the potted plants on your porch. Choose an evergreen or a pot of bright mums for fall. If the house is vacant and the owners live out of town, consider high-end artificial plants for the porch.
Lose the warm weather look. If your front porch has a summery feel, change it for the fall. Add a pumpkin by the door, drape a fall throw over a piece of furniture or put some mums on the table.
Spruce up the entrance. Add a fall wreath or an iron flower holder filled with seasonal twigs to the front door. It will help the house stand out - and show that the owners are keeping up with the season.
Rake, rake, rake. In a few weeks, those beautiful fall leaves are going to be all over the yard. Keep up with the leaves, and potential owners will know you're keeping up the inside of the house, too.
Don't forget the gutters. Fall is the time when leaves can quickly fill gutters. That can be a sign the homeowners don't maintain their home. Keep them clean and let the rainwater flow through them.
Out with the old. Pull up dead annuals or other plants that didn't make it through the summer heat.
In with the new. As the impatiens and the verbena die back, add colorful mums to the yard. If you're not able to keep up with flowers, add some touches of fall through a colorful flag for the mailbox area or near the front steps.
Think classic decorations. With Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas coming, yards soon will be filled with everything from inflatable ghosts to plastic reindeer. Think more subdued and classic - a grouping of pumpkins and cornstalks instead of tombstones and spider webs.