Sales of new homes fell 16.6 percent in January according to a recent government report from the Commerce Department. Conversely, the National Association of Realtors reported stronger sales of existing homes. The sales pace of previously owned homes showed its biggest jump in two years. This paints a very clear picture of what’s going on in the real estate world: people are sprucing up and putting their homes on the market and for buyers who are more interested in purchasing an existing home than new one in the subdivision being built around the corner. Real estate experts say first impressions are key to selling a home. They call it curb appeal and it all begins with exterior improvements. Simple things can add character and charm to a home, making it the envy of the neighborhood. As National Home Improvement Month is right around the corner, exterior home improvements are playing an important role whether the goal is to sell a home or simply to make the outdoor living spaces more inviting. Home improvement expert Mike Loughery says that improvements to the siding, roof, porch, and more can make an enormous difference and boost a home’s first impression. Mike Loughery recommends the following: * Tidy up the perimeter landscaping: Collect and remove weeds, loose leaves and litter. * Put up a low-maintenance fence or repair the existing one. * Inspect the home’s siding: Is it chipping, staining or rotting? The siding might just need a power wash or it may need to replaced. * Look at the roof: Use binoculars to search for missing, cracked, curling or decaying shingles. If you spot any, it might be time to replace the roof. * Get outside: Consider installing a new deck or patio. It will change the way you feel about your outdoor space and will give you new options in entertaining. * Picture your home online: You might consider investigating what your home would look like with all these makeover options before you dive in to multiple improvements. Online tools can help paint a picture.