When it comes to curb appeal, the little things go a long way. Indeed, all the details that go into home’s exterior and surroundings can make or break potential buyers’ first impression of a home and, in an instant, sway their decision to look inside or move on.
According to a recent seven-state survey of attendees at consumer home and garden shows, you can increase the value of your home by 10-12 percent with even modest upgrades in landscaping. On a home selling for $200,000, that’s an extra $20,000 in your pocket.
But landscaping gets expensive fast, as can exterior remodels. Luckily, we’ve read all the reports (like this one) and confirmed our findings with some of the country’s top real estate agents to bring you three game-changing curb appeal tricks you can employ to increase your home’s value — without breaking the bank.
Cheap Curb Appeal Tip #1: Mulch Liberally
We asked top selling agent Ryan Cave in Collins County, Texas, and the very first upgrade he recommended was mulch. Cave, who ranks in the top 1 percent of agents in Collins County says, “Mulching beds. De-weeding and mulching beds is very inexpensive and will return very well, and it gives homes that fresh pop of color.”
The best part about mulch is that you don’t actually have to do much to your garden besides dumping a fresh bag of the stuff. Fresh mulch gives the appearance of a well-maintained outdoor space without actually costing you any time or hefty landscaping expense.
“Buyers are already deciding when they’re pulling up to your home what the inside is going to look like,” explains Cave. So if you can convince them that your home is well-loved and worth the visit with just a few bags of mulch (starting at just $5 a piece), that seems like the worthiest investment of all.
Here are some of our favorite brands of mulch you can find in Home Depot:
Cheap Curb Appeal Tip #2: Edge Your Lawn
Much like buying mulch, edging your lawn is another inexpensive landscaping trick that will really make a difference in the overall appeal of your property. Never used an edger before? Think of it like a haircut for your lawn (if your lawn had messy bangs). Edgers do exactly what they sound like they would, allowing you to clean up bits of lawn that overflow onto walkways and into the road.
“Making sure the yard is well kept and edged — it’s very inexpensive to do if you start a few months ahead of time,” says Cave. “Put out weed killer and define where edges are. Unless somebody has a really attractive backyard and something that will draw attention in back, I’m going to tell them to spend money on the front for the drive-up appeal.”
You can learn more about how to select the best edger for your space in this article, then watch this video to get the best results. And hey — for a few extra bucks you might even convince the kid down the street to do it.
Cheap Curb Appeal Tip #3: Add Lawn Props
Ever seen those brightly colored plastic flamingos and lawn gnomes people leave out? Well, what we’re proposing isn’t quite so tacky, but still runs along the same lines of adding some inexpensive flare to your property.
Top real estate agent Ashlynn Petrocco, a member of Ryan Cave’s Texas-based real estate team, has first-hand experience redoing an outdoor space after she purchased her new home last year.
“A trend here is midcentury modern, so incorporating some kind of wood is a good idea,” says Petrocco. “I had three posts that were large spindles that looked like they were from the 70s, and one cheap thing was to cap them with a cedar and paint them gray- it added a bit of texture out front.”
Here are a few lawn props that fit Petrocco’s recommendations:
Another inexpensive trick is to upgrade small home details that might have fallen in disrepair, or ones that make the home look antiquated. You can choose what to upgrade by approaching your front door with the mindset of the buyer, and upgrading whatever immediately falls in your line of vision (and needs the most help).
One example might be the house numbers by your front door. Advises Petrocco, “Update house numbers to something modern and more striking, sleeker looking and small. Especially if they’re brass ones from the ’80s or ’90s.”
Every neighborhood and every house has a slightly different style, but here are some universally great looking house numbers to think about adding to your home:
Lawn props and flare don’t have to be expensive upgrades. You can purchase house numbers purchased for $10-20, and materials to create or upgrade posts or fencing are similarly priced.
How To Figure Out the ROI on Other Curb Appeal Tricks
While all the curb appeal tricks listed here will undoubtedly return your investment, you need to consider cost whenever you’re making any changes to a home for sale. One way to gauge just how much money and effort you need to put into your curb appeal, is to take a good look around the neighborhood.
“You’ve gotta be up to the standard for your neighborhood,” explains Cave. “Make your yard look above average for the neighborhood, and these will be dollar for dollar upgrades until you get above the midpoint of the neighborhood— and then it starts falling off.”
In other words, you can expect to gain back everything you spend while upgrading your curb appeal to reflect the average look and standard of your neighbors’ properties. The reason being, buyers will look around to see how your home racks up, just as quickly as you did.
Says Cave, “If you spend $500-1000 to get your yard up to average, then you can expect to get that back, because otherwise you’d be selling below market value.”
This is how failing to upgrade curb appeal can actually end up costing you money. If buyers look around and find themselves on the doorstep of the saddest looking house in the neighborhood, they aren’t going to pay your asking price, and in fact they’ll probably already be mentally negotiating less or getting ready to leave.
Here’s a Simple Curb Appeal Game Plan You Can Use Right Now
1. Spend money upgrading the front of your house and the areas buyers will see first.
2. Add new bags of mulch and don’t forget to weed, trim, and edge your lawn in preparation for an open house.
3. Add lawn flare that works well with your home’s style, and make sure the front entryway is clean and inviting.
4. Remember to think of curb appeal not just in terms of how it looks in person, but also how well it will photograph.
5. Take a look around the neighborhood to see how your property stacks up, and don’t hesitate to spend a little more time and money getting it up to snuff. Remember — if you don’t you might just be losing more money later on.
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