A common mistake people make is to assume that their house is "ready for sale" just because it is a livable, functional place that is not in need of repair. This mistake can not only make your home take longer to sell, but can also mean you will be accepting thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars less for the home than the amount you can get with a few smartly done improvements.

As the old saying goes, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression". When dealing with selling your home, this translates into creating a better "curb appeal" to draw in potential buyers. Many things can be done to improve "curb appeal", such as a fresh coat of paint, installing new siding, doing some simple yardcare and landscaping, and adding "finishing touches" to the house. While the cost of such improvements can sometimes be prohibitive, when doing them smartly yourself you can literally improve the value of your home with little more than some elbow grease and a few hundred dollars.

One of the best ways to get the most bang for your buck is by installing vinyl exterior shutters. Measuring for and installing exterior shutters can usually be done in a few hours depending on how many windows face the street and will give prospective buyers the "wow" effect you are hoping for.

There are 2 basic types of exterior vinyl shutters:
  1. Custom-made vinyl shutters
  2. Prebuilt or stock shutters (often called standard-sized shutters)
If measured correctly, custom-made shutters will always go from the top to the bottom of the window frame within 1/4" of the actual height of the opening. Custom exterior shutters come in several widths, usually starting around 6 inches wide and are available up to around 30 inches wide. Standard sized shutters usually only come in height increments of 2 or 3 inches and are only available in 12 inch and 15 inch widths.

While custom-made shutters will certainly look the best, it can cost 150-250% more to buy custom shutters than stock sizes. Another thing to consider is that custom made exterior vinyl shutters can take 2 weeks or longer to be built, while stock sizes are prebuilt and ready to ship. This can be a major factor if you are in a hurry to sell and are on a budget. Of course, custom made shutters can be made quicker and ship faster if you are willing to pay an additional shipping charge, so be sure to ask the vendor if this is an option.

A good balance between cost and good looks is to order standard sized shutters for windows that are within an inch of one of the available heights, and order custom made shutters for the windows that need a more exact fit - especially the windows on the front of the house on each side of the front door.

The color of the vinyl shutters is also an important factor, since painting can only be done if you order the paintable type of plastic. Black and white are the most popular colors and therefore they are usually shipped the soonest because they are typically stocked very well. Ordering the paintable type of plastic shutters is also a way to receive them quickly, but of course will require you to put in some more work to paint them before installing them.

If you have more time, it is possible to order a vinyl shutter color sample kit before ordering the shutters. This is a good way to get an exact match with your trim, or to get the right color of paint if you have also decided to paint the house for the sale. Color samples can be ordered for as little as $5 and most places give you the cost of the sample back when you order the shutters. This is also a good way to get some idea of what the shutters will look like because the samples are moulded from the same vinyl material as the actual shutters.

Once the shutters arrive, installing them is just a matter of drilling a few holes and either screwing them to the outside surface of your home or using shutter-loks, which can be tapped in with a few strokes of a hammer. Of course, it is important to download the instructions from the web site that you buy them from as different shutter manufacturers recommend slightly different installation and not doing the installation correctly can result in a voided warranty.