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8 simple ways to add curb appeal to your home

Bankrate logo Bankrate 9/22/2021 Jennifer Bradley Franklin
The front porch of a home with planters and curb appeal © Svineyard/Shutterstock The front porch of a home with planters and curb appeal

From first dates to interviews to selling your TV online, first impressions matter. When it comes to selling your home, the impression your curb appeal has can contribute to up to 7 percent of the price, according to a study in The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics. That's why it's important to put your home's best face forward.

8 ways to boost curb appeal

"Curb appeal is probably one of the most important and effective tools in selling a home," explains Yawar Charlie, a Los Angeles-based estate director with the Aaron Kirman Group of real estate firm Compass.

Here are tips on how to improve curb appeal, bring in the buyers and get top dollar for your home:

1. Exterior painting

If your home's exterior is looking dingy, it can be less appealing to potential buyers. One of the best ways to refresh it is with a new coat of paint.

"A full exterior paint job can go a long way, especially if the paint has faded or is chipping," says Reese Stewart of RE/MAX Properties SW in Florida. "While this can be costly, it can make all the difference if the home is overdue for a fresh paint coat."

Cost: On average, expect to pay about $5,360 to paint the exterior of a 1,500-square-foot home, according to Fixr, a home remodeling resource.

2. Cleaning doors and windows

"Giving doors and windows a good scrubbing is an easy and inexpensive way to remove any grime and give your home that sparkling look," says Stewart.

Cost: This DIY project will cost you nothing but water, cleaning supplies and a little elbow grease.

3. Repainting doors

Like a full exterior paint job, freshening up outside entryways with new paint can go a long way.

"Painting just the front door or the garages can help spruce up the entry point, since it's one of the first things potential buyers see," says Stewart.

Cost: While you could hire a pro to do this job at an average cost of $275, according to Fixr, most homeowners do it themselves, with exterior acrylic latex paint costing between $20 and $50 per gallon. Your local paint shop can help you estimate how much you'll need based on the scope of the project.

4. Landscaping

Seventy-four percent of Realtors recommend sellers revisit their landscaping before listing their home on the market, and 17 percent say doing so leads to a successful sale, according to the National Association of Realtors.

"Take a step back and see if you need to repot some flowers or replace some bushes," says Stewart. "Even some new mulch can go a long way."

Cost: The average cost for a professional landscape design, new soil, grading, grass seed, plants, patio and a walkway is around $10,000 according to Fixr. If you have a rake and lawn mower, however, you can spruce things up for almost nothing. Another option is to add a few pre-potted plants to the walkway or porch. At a cost of no more than $100 or $200 (depending on the plants), you'll add color and pop to the entry area, and can take the plants with you after you sell.

5. Power washing the driveway

Leaves, rain and snow can wreak havoc on the surface of a driveway, especially a concrete one.

"If your driveway is discolored, get it power washed," Charlie recommends.

Cost: On average, the cost to pressure-wash a 600-square-foot driveway is $225, according to Fixr. If you want to do it yourself, you can rent an electric pressure washer for $39 per day, with a deposit, from Home Depot.

6. Lighting

Clean and well-placed exterior lighting not only looks nice, but also can be an important safety feature.

"Make sure that it is clear of cobwebs and dust and that the bulbs are still working," Stewart says. "This is easy to do, and it can ensure your home is well-lit if any potential buyers visit around sunset or drive by at night."

Cost: This DIY project can cost you nothing, unless you need to install the lights or purchase replacement bulbs.

7. Roofing

The condition of your roof can be a sticking point for buyers. If there are broken shingles or tiles or other issues, it's best to take care of them with the help of a professional roofer before they come up during the home inspection.

Cost: For minor repairs (such as repairing links and replacing 100 square feet of asphalt shingles), the average cost for a professional is $750, according to Fixr. This can vary depending on the type of roof and the extent of the repairs.

8. Mailbox upgrade

The mailbox is one of the first things a prospective buyer will see when they arrive at your home.

"If your mailbox is faded or is looking worse for the wear, it's time for an upgrade," Stewart says. "It might be a small project, but it's one that can help improve overall curb appeal."

Cost: If your mailbox just needs to be cleaned or painted, the cost is next to nothing. If it needs to be replaced, you can find mailbox and post kits at Lowe's starting as low as $29.

What does curb appeal mean?

Curb appeal is the way your home looks from the outside or from the street, and how attractive it is to anyone who visits or drives past. To assess your home's curb appeal, look at the front of your home and take it in from the perspective of someone seeing it for the first time. The color of your home's exterior, the landscaping and the overall maintenance of the outside of the property all contribute to curb appeal.

Why is curb appeal important?

Improving your home's curb appeal before listing it for sale is important because it can help drive more interest from more buyers. As The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics study found, it can also have a positive impact on the sale price.

Common curb appeal mistakes

Once you have an idea of which curb appeal ideas to tackle, you don't want to waste time or money. Here are some curb appeal goofs to avoid:

  • Going overboard - Don't get caught up in making every upgrade possible. "One of the common mistakes I find when it comes to curb appeal is a homeowner doing too much," Charlie says. "There can be [such] a thing as too many trees or too many flowers." Stewart agrees: "While a full garden may look beautiful to a seller, potential buyers may see it as difficult for upkeep."
  • Making bold changes - Stick to neutral shades, especially for exterior paint. "One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is painting their homes a loud, outrageous color," Charlie says. "Veer towards more of a classic look that will appeal to a variety of people."
  • Not consulting your HOA - If you live in a home governed by a homeowners association, confirm that your planned upgrades are within the rules. "Sellers should check the bylaws before making any improvements that must go through the HOA for review," Stewart says.

Quick tips for hiring a home pro

If you're hiring a professional to execute any of your curb appeal ideas, remember to:

  • Check online reviews. Look to see what past clients say about the contractor you're considering.
  • Ask for recommendations. Real estate agents, friends, neighbors and family members can be great resources for finding good home pros.
  • Get a firm bid. To make sure there are no surprises when it comes time to pay your bill, ask for a bid rather than an estimate. An estimate is like window shopping, according to Charlie, but a bid puts hard numbers to the project. "When you decide to use a vendor, make sure that they give you a final bid for what the work is going to cost, so there are no surprises down the line," Charlie says.

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