If you're like many sellers, listing your home for sale creates a challenge to keep the home show-ready at all times. That can be difficult enough.

Consider this notion, though. No matter how nice the inside is, if the outside isn't inviting, you're likely to lose prospective buyers before they ever set foot in your home. That's because in real estate, buyers often do "judge a book by its cover".

Take a good look at your home from the outside. Step across the street and decide if you think buyers would want to see more based on your home's "cover".

If you answered "yes," then your job is easy. Make sure the inside won't be disappointing to those same buyers. If your answer was "no," then you have some work to do. While many sellers may think that only interior pictures of their home posted on the Multiple Listing Service are what buyers really care about, there's more to it.

The outside can be a huge roadblock for buyers. If potential buyers pass by your home while cruising through a neighborhood and see your for sale sign, but also see a broken down gate, leaky sprinklers, cracked driveways, a lousy exterior paint job, and kids' old toys strewn across a brown lawn, they'll keep on cruising to the next home on the market.

Chances are you're busy getting the kids ready for the move, squaring away all the details for your new housing arrangement, trying to work, care for family, and still have some sort of personal time. That's a lot to handle. However, it's no excuse for not making your landscape appealing, especially when you think of the consequences. That could be not selling your home at all.

Here's a quick and tidy plan to help give your home a beautiful "cover". Remember, buyers are well-read. They will judge a home by it's exterior. And, if they're really interested in your home but the outside is a mess, they'll make sure that becomes a negotiating tool in the home-buying process.

Here are a few tips on the big exterior influencers.

Do not have unkempt lawn. It shows a lack of care for the home. If the lawn is beyond repair, pull it up and try drought-resistant landscaping. If there's a chance to revive it, a fresh-cut lawn is one way to showcase the appreciation the homeowner has had for his property. Also, note this tip from HGTV. Don't cut your lawn too short. You want to remove only a third of the blade of grass. Any lower than that "and you start stunting the grass," according to HGTV.

Clear the clutter from the porch. Sometimes the porch becomes an extension of the garage or tool shed. Kids' bicycles, toys, and people's shoes accumulates there. When buyers come to view the home, they often feel like they are intruding instead of viewing a property that they might be purchasing.

Pull the weeds and ditch the empty planter boxes. A lot of times homeowners will leave an empty planter box, intending to get some flowers for it, but somehow that doesn't happen.

Paint and fix any hardware that looks extremely worn. Nothing beats a fresh coat of paint. Yes, it's work and it costs money. That's exactly what buyers will think, which is good news for you! They'll think, "This homeowner put some TLC into this home." When you're selling your home, fresh paint is always recommended for the inside. If the outside needs it, you'll be doing yourself a huge favor and increase the chance of a higher sales price.

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