Most of us take pride in our appearances. When attending an event or leaving the house for the day, we like to look presentable and feel confident that we are putting our “best foot forward.” The same should apply to your home’s appearance, especially if you’re trying to sell. Curb appeal is the first impression. Is the lawn manicured? Does the paint seem fresh and/or clean? Do the fixtures match perfectly with the mailbox? These little things may not make much difference when it comes to the home’s structure and “good bones,” but the outward appearance when first pulling up is something buyers pay a lot of attention to.
Homes with exceptional curb appeal sell much faster than homes without, even if the interior is pristine. The standard return of investment on revamping your home’s curb appeal is a 150% return for that portion, and that is being modest. Of course, it depends on what you’re investing in, and how much, but for the most part, an addition of 15-30% can be expected on the total selling price. This means that if you’re spending $20,000 on revamping the exterior, you’ll get a general return of at least double that amount when your home is sold.
Other huge factors also come into play regarding the selling price, such as location, age of the home, and square footage. You can’t expect to make triple the money you put in on a home just because it is beautiful inside and out. If it is in a lesser-known neighborhood or far from an easy-access commute, you won’t make too much extra money. However, you don’t have to put in $20,000 to see a return. Stick with the simple things, like washing your home, updating fixtures and hardware, and making the grass look as full as possible. These basic upgrades cost less than $5,000 to complete, and on a conservative 150% return, you’re making a significant profit. The numbers won’t be exact, but the experts will tell you that boosting curb appeal is not only good use of common sense, but it is a surefire way to sell your home fast. Even if you’re not looking to sell, someone else on your block might be. Ensuring that your home has decent curb appeal not only makes you look good, it does wonders for the entire neighborhood as well.
Wash, Rinse, Repeat
Your home is your control center; it is the hub that grounds your day-to-day life. A clean home is a happy home, so wash it! Suggested methods include renting a pressure washer from your local home improvement store, which costs between $75-$100 per day. Pressure wash the exterior, and take caution not to ruin any paint or hardware. Vinyl siding needs to be washed at least twice a year, and stucco needs to be maintained regularly as well. All other exterior materials should be washed down once a year to stay fresh.
A new coat of paint is always a good idea, so if you have the extra money, opt to repaint the exterior. Choose a neutral color with a trim that pops, such as beige with dark accents, or gray with red. Stabilize the entire look by tying those colors into your mailbox as well, and possibly porch furniture – if you have a porch. Hanging plants on the front porch is a good way to add color that will also draw the eye towards the front door, making the entire front entry pleasing to the eye. For a bold, attention-grabbing look, paint your front door a contrasting color from the trim. For example, a hunter green door on a beige house with dark trim will provide linear balance while giving the eye a focal point to center on. Color choices are very important when boosting curb appeal. Too much color can make the house look too messy, and throw a potential buyer off. Too little will show a lack of effort and coordination, and sends a message to buyers that the home is not something worth taking pride in. Be careful not to choose colors that are too bold; it is best to identify the home as a part of the neighborhood, rather than something that sticks out.
Focus on the Overlooked
When selling, it is important to consider the larger picture, so that everything is covered and accounted for once it is time to sign and hand over the keys. Things to consider in this area are the roof and the driveway. You’ll want to repair any bad shingles that may stand out during an inspection, and prime the driveway to reseal it. A good, clean driveway is a sign of long-standing maintenance; it shows you cared for the home.
Even if you’re currently living in your “forever home,” it is important to keep the driveway and the roof in the best condition possible. You can pressure wash your driveway the same way you would your exterior, and this cleans out any cracks in the process, so they’re ready for a patch up. Resealing your driveway will also help to repel oils and dirt, which can leave permanent stains.
The roof is something you should not take into your own hands. Opt to call the professionals if there’s more than a few loose shingles. That phone call to the roofers causes anxiety for most of us, because we never know what they’ll uncover and getting the bill is terrifying. However, it is best to focus on the roof when you think it needs the least work, that way you won’t be forking out thousands of dollars because you let it go so long without maintenance and/or repair. To be on the safe side, if your roof is older than 20 years, you will want to think about replacing it completely.
Little Things Matter
Now that the big stuff is out of the way, you can focus on the tiny details that will really make your home’s outward appearance come to life. Aspects like hardware, outdoor light fixtures, gutters, fences, and foliage are the stars of the show. You have set the foundation for them to stand out, so begin by shining them up and making them look their best. Choose green, leafy plants to place around the front of your home, and accent the beds with stones or decorative borders that match your home’s color palette.
A manicured lawn with full, green grass is by far the number one thing that most homeowners strive for. Invest in good fertilizer and plant extra flowers or mulch beds where your grass is sparse. Try to keep the front yard as symmetrical as possible. Remember, at first glance it needs to feel balanced so the eye knows where to focus. Prune hedges lay out fresh mulch once you’ve achieved the desired look from planting your new flowers and/or shrubs.
Replace any old light fixtures or handles, and anything that is eye level or will be looked for, such as the house numbers. Add a fence for privacy, preferably one that matches the style of the home, and opt to keep the front of the house as open as possible to remain inviting; A border of shrubs or a small, waist-high fence will do the trick if you’re still hoping for some enclosure.
Whether you’re looking to update your home for maximum enjoyment, or if you’re going for “double or nothing” on the market, curb appeal is a crucial investment in home improvement. Numbers don’t lie, and when it comes to resale value, curb appeal is toward the top of the list of must-haves. It is a fact: homes that look good on the outside sell quicker. Hone in on what needs to be a priority, and make time to give your home’s exterior a little makeover. Stay, and your family will thank you for it. Sell, and your wallet will love you for it!