Buyers scroll past houses lacking star-quality curb appeal. To catch their attention, take a note out of Hollywood’s book and make your home exude elegance, sophistication, and glamour.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 96% of real estate agents advise improving curb appeal before sellers list their home for sale, while 99% believe curb appeal is essential for attracting buyers.
Not only does beautiful curb appeal lure buyers in, but it also encourages them to offer more money for your home. In HomeLight’s recent Top Agent Insights report, 94% of agents agree that buyers are willing to pay more for houses with great curb appeal.
No matter the size of your lot or the style of your house, you can create curb appeal for selling your home that will dazzle buyers and earn a worthwhile return on investment. Here are 32 tips and tricks to design a show-stopping exterior.
Scrub-a-dub-dub: Start with a deep clean
Beautiful curb appeal for selling your home begins with the most basic home improvement principle: cleaning. Dirt and grime turn-off buyers and can make your home appear in worse condition than it truly is. If your exterior can’t be new, at least make it shine like new.
“It’s important that sellers clean. Buyers make judgments quickly. If they see blatant neglect, they’re critical,” says Don Hammons, a top agent who works with 80% more single-family homes than the average agent in Bellingham, WA.
Clean up your curb appeal in four simple steps:
2. Wash the windows, inside and out. Hammons suggests removing the screens if they’re not in good condition and storing them for the new owner.
3. Got mold? There are many spray-and-forget-it products made for vinyl siding that attach to your garden hose and allow you to reach the high spots without a ladder.
4. Tidy up your yard and remove clutter, debris, and dead leaves. You don’t have to lift that barge or tote that bale — just think of it as housekeeping for the outdoors.
Give those green thumbs a workout
And if your thumbs aren’t green, hire a professional lawn care service. Basic mowing, trimming, and edging costs $30 to $80, depending on where you live and how big your yard is. Whether you hire a crew or do it yourself, go beyond merely mowing the lawn to make a lasting first impression.
5. Green up your grass by regularly mowing, fertilizing, and watering the lawn. In NAR’s report, 75% of real estate agents advise their sellers to implement a lawn care routine before listing. A professional weed-and-feed program typically reaps 303% ROI.
7. In HomeLight’s recent Top Agent Insights Report, 84% of real estate agents suggest adding fresh mulch when listing. Top your beds with two inches of mulch to make beds look fresh and tidy, reduce the need for watering, help ward off weeds, and add nutrients to the soil. Ask your agent what type of mulch buyers prefer in your region. For instance, in the Northeast, homeowners prefer to use wood chips as mulch, and in the South, homeowners often use pine straw. Hammons also recommends cedar mulch for its lovely aroma.
8. Show them the way with a stone paver walkway that winds its way to your entrance. NAR estimates a 105% ROI on adding a stone path. For an affordable alternative, use precast concrete pavers — they’re just as charming as natural flagstones but require less maintenance.
Entrances should go beyond entry-level
Just like the princess at the ball, make your entrance spectacular. Make it stand out. Make it unique. Above all, make it inviting. If buyers feel welcomed, they’ll want to go inside to see more.
10. Hammons recommends installing a smart doorbell to appeal to buyers who love high-tech items. “It’s the little things,” he notes, commenting that the sum of small details creates great curb appeal for selling your home.
12. Add a new doormat. It’s one of the most inexpensive spruce-ups you can do. Avoid cutesy designs and silly messages. Stick to a classic, appropriately sized mat that’s at least 80% of the width of the front door.
13. Invite buyers to put their feet up with an inviting seating area on the front porch. For a little country charm, add a porch swing or some rocking chairs and a little table for refreshments. As Hammons points out, a porch swing or a mini bistro set is good for staging, photos, ambiance, and generating an emotional attachment with the buyer.
14. Don’t forget to clean, paint, repair or replace porch fixtures while you’re at it. Brass and copper fixtures resist corrosion better than aluminum fixtures.
Design a lush landscape that complements your home
Evaluate your landscaping. It should enhance, not hide, your home’s best features. Commonly referred to as “softscape,” adding greenery can pay off with a full return on investment, according to NAR. For example, seeding a bare lawn recoups 417% of costs, while sod returns 143% of costs.
16. Trees and shrubs are attractive, but not if they’re overgrown. Trim dead limbs using a pole saw or hire a professional to groom the tree for you. Trim back plants to keep doors, windows, and walkways clear. If a tree is blocking the view or is simply too overgrown, it may be best to remove it.
17. Drag out the electric hedge clippers to whittle those bushy bushes into shape. Just keep in mind that some shrubs such as junipers, spruces, and cedars don’t like pruning.
Everything’s coming up roses: Plant some flowers
Foundation plantings are crucial, but sometimes it’s the little details that make the difference. Cheery flowers can brighten even the darkest doorstep and make a buyer smile. Fragrant flowers are an added touch to appeal to a buyer’s senses.
“I tell clients to do what’s in your heart,” Hammons says. He suggests adding potted plants on the front porch, unless the house is vacant with no one to care for them.
18. Plant flowers: it’s one of the easiest curb appeal projects you can do to pretty-up a house. In addition to adding clusters of colorful annuals to the beds around your house, take a twist on a traditional idea with paintable, self-watering PVC window boxes that won’t rot. You can paint them to match your color scheme.
19. Add variety to your plantings. Depending on your planting zone and the amount of light you get, you can mix flowering shrubs, bulbs, perennials, and annuals.
20. Add a mixture of heights, textures, and types of compatible plants for a cohesive look with long-lasting blooms. Try azaleas and tulips for spring, hydrangeas, roses, daylilies. In the summer opt for petunias. You can also plant hostas in shady spots. Don’t forget to add some flowers around your mailbox.
Bonus curb appeal feats worth considering
If you have the time (and budget), revamp your garage and exterior with the following curb appeal ideas:
22. If your garage door is worn beyond repair, replace it. Adding a new door equals added character to your house. According to Remodeling.com, a new garage door costs around $3,500 and recoups 98% of project costs — that’s a lot of bang for the buck.
23. For that extra detail, Hammons advises sellers to add a WiFi door opener. “You want a quiet garage door opener,” he notes.
24. Stone the exterior with manufactured stone veneer. These thin slices of natural rock or molded cement impart an upscale look that mimics real stone construction at a fraction of the cost.
Lighten up, brighten up
If buyers can’t see your home’s exterior in the dark, they’re not going to want to go in. Lighting is a safety issue as well as an aesthetic one. The right lighting can make your home as inviting at night as it is during the day — not to mention look incredible in evening listing photos.
“Lighting is very important for marketing,” Hammons says. He prefers brighter lights in warmer tones for a cozy feel and reminds sellers that all bulbs should match.
25. Light the way with solar or low-voltage lights along the driveway and sidewalks to guide guests securely to the entrance. “Solar is inexpensive,” Hammons observes.
26. An alternative to installing lights adjacent to the pathway is to place solar-powered spotlights in the flower beds, aimed at the sidewalk.
27. Moonlighting, or downlighting, is another way to shed light on a pathway. Place solar spots in a tree or porch rafter to light it up.
29. Add sconces or ceiling lights to your front porch for a welcoming glow.
Add flair with some decorative details
Have a little fun with accessorizing your front yard and porch – just don’t go too far. “Get rid of things that turn off buyers,” Hammons advises. “Neutralize.” There’s a fine line between adding items that buyers identify with to create that emotional investment and cluttered or even “kitschy.”
Whatever you add, Hammons says it should be quality: “People remember high quality. They can see and feel it.”
30. Incorporate a yard ornament, such as a gazing ball or a bird feeder.
31. Decorate for the seasons with a grapevine wreath on the door in the autumn or an evergreen garland in the winter. A Halloween pumpkin adds a familiar, whimsical touch. Just remember not to overdo it.
32. Add a new garden hose in an ornate reel to appeal to buyers who love to garden.
Curb appeal for selling your home is easy
There are endless opportunities to improve your curb appeal for selling your home. With some ingenuity and elbow grease (or the help of professionals), you can transform your home into the star of the show.
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