The moment potential buyers park their car at your curb, your exterior gives them their first in-person impression of your home. Is it a good one? If not, then your house needs a little curb appeal help.
Angela Fox, a Denver-based real estate agent who ranks in the top 1% out of 14,046 agents in her market, says there’s a good reason you should care about your curb appeal:
“Curb appeal is definitely one of the most important things that the seller should think about because right now it’s a pretty strong seller’s market across the country. And the first thing that buyers are doing is driving neighborhoods to figure out where they want to live. Once that ‘for sale’ sign is in the yard, buyers are making that impression before they see inside or know the price.”
The better your home looks on the outside, the more potential buyers you’ll attract. But sprucing up your curb appeal isn’t just about bringing in more buyers, it can also help you sell your home for more money.
According to the National Association of Realtors’ magazine, good landscaping can increase your home’s value by up to 12%. And achieving that high of a return on your curb appeal investment costs you less than you think.
If you’re planning on selling your home within the year, NAR’s experts recommend spending only 1-2% of your home’s current market value on exterior improvements and landscaping. For a home valued at $300,000, that’s an investment of $3,000-6,000.
Of course, you’ll only receive a good return if you invest the money in the right places. Let’s take a look at the top four curb appeal ideas you need to get your house ready for its big buyer debut.
1. An Attractive Entrance Sells Buyers at the Front Door
If your front door could talk, what would it say about you as a homeowner? Well, it turns out the appearance of your front stoop is gossiping to every potential buyer that comes for a showing.
“When the real estate agent is standing at the front door trying to get in the lockbox—maybe it’s 30 seconds, a minute, two minutes—that is another first impression the buyer gets before they even walk into the house,” says Fox.
It doesn’t matter how clean and appealing your interior is to buyers who spy cobwebs, stains and peeling paint outside. If your exterior is a mess, those potential buyers will enter your home looking for things they don’t like.u
Whether you’ve got a single step, a small stoop or a full porch with room for rocking chairs, your first step is a complete cleaning from the roof to the floor. As you clean, take note of all items that are weather-worn or broken—including light fixtures and your door’s finish.
Damage isn’t the only reason to consider updating your front door’s lighting. If your porch lantern doesn’t emit enough light or its style is outdated, it needs replacing. Hiring a licensed electrician to do the job will cost an average of $272 which includes the cost of the replacement light fixture.
If you’re up to the task of DIYing, you’ll only be out the cost of the new porch light and supplies. Working with electricity can be tricky, so turn off power to the front porch at your circuit breaker before starting the installation and follow all of the included instructions. Once you’re done, weatherproof any seams between the wall and the light with weather stripping or caulk.
As for the front door itself, unless it’s brand new, it’s due for a refresh. Scrape off any peeling paint, sand it down and give it a fresh coat of exterior-grade paint. Fox recommends opting for an eye-catching color, “The front door is important. I love to do a front door red when I can.”
Repainting the front door yourself will cost around $30 for a gallon of paint plus supply expenses. Of course, if your whole house needs repainting, you may just want to let the professional painters handle your door, too.
2. Exterior Repainting and Roof Repairs Get Your House Noticed
Sure, you see your home’s exterior every day, but when’s the last time you really looked at it? Chances are you’ve got faded and peeling paint, wood rot or other weather damage to the roof and siding that needs fixing prior to listing.
Before you spend money to completely repaint or reside your home, rent a pressure washer to thoroughly clean the exterior. Once the dirt is washed away, you can properly determine if your exterior just needs a few touch ups or if it must be completely refurbished.
The type of siding your home has plays a major role in whether or not you’ll need to repaint. Wood, aluminum and stucco generally need to be repainted every 3-7 years, while the paint on cement and brick homes will last 10-20 years.
If your home only needs repainting, the cost for a professional to do the job averages at around $2,500-$3,000 for a 1,500 square foot home. But if your brickwork or siding has noticeable damage that can’t be repaired, you’ll need to have the place completely re-sided.
Exterior damage that’s gone unnoticed often means underlying issues like dry rot that require a professional to fix. While siding costs vary depending upon the material type, basic vinyl siding has an average cost of $6,800 for a 2,200 square foot home.
On top of that, you can also expect to pay an additional $1,000-3,000 for the removal and disposal of existing siding.
When choosing the color for your new paint or siding, you need to think in terms of what most buyers will like rather than picking hues you prefer.
Fox says, “I tell everyone that once your home is on the market it’s now a business decision. It’s not about your favorite color, it’s about what looks best for your block. That might mean looking at what your neighbors have on each side of your house.”
However, you’re not looking to match your neighbors’ paint colors–especially if they have bright, unusual hues on their homes. When you’re looking to sell, it’s always best to stick with neutrals like beiges and grays that complement your neighbors’ colors without clashing.
Neither new paint nor refreshed siding can distract from a roof that’s in bad shape. Missing or damaged shingles and tiles need to be repaired or replaced by a licensed roofer. The average nationwide cost for basic roof repair is $778, with a typical range of $336 to $1,241.
That doesn’t mean you need to pay for a whole new roof, even if your home is due for one. When you intend to sell your home, you only need to get your roof in good condition, not brand-new condition.
If the damage is extensive enough to require a roof replacement before selling, your expense all depends on the roof style and shingle or tile type. For a basic asphalt shingle on a simple, low-slope roof, you’re looking at a cost of $8,000-$11,000 for a 2,500 square foot home. Slate or clay tile roofs can cost upwards of $25,000 to $50,000 to replace.
Once your house itself is in tip-top shape, it’s time to take a look at its setting.
3. Luxurious Landscaping and Well-Groomed Greenery Set the Scene
Just like a priceless diamond looks cheap in a plated-brass setting, your home looks less desirable if your lawn and landscaping are overgrown or neglected.
In fact, a Virginia Tech study on the effect of landscaping on a home’s value found: “A home valued at $150,000 with no landscape (lawn only) could be worth $8,250 to $19,050 more with a sophisticated landscape with color and large plants.”
So getting your landscaping in shape is a top priority, but it can be pricey to fix. The cost of a complete, professional landscaping project varies depending upon yard size and features, but can average anywhere from $5,000 to as much as $100,000.
The other problem is that landscaping results aren’t quite as simple and immediate as repainting your home’s exterior.
Landscapers typically plant young trees and shrubs because it’s more expensive and labor-intensive to plant mature plant life. Those young, smaller shrubs and trees won’t help—and may even hurt—your bottom line. That same Virginia Tech study found that minimal landscaping with small plants actually detracts from a home’s perceived value.
So how can you get your existing landscaping in shape?
First, trim up your existing trees and bushes, then till the earth or replace the mulch in your flower beds so that it looks crisp and fresh.
Next, assess the overall look of your existing landscaping. If your front yard needs some color or looks bare in places, plant additional flowers and add larger plants planted in containers. The containers allow plants to appear taller and fuller—plus, they can be easily relocated or replaced as needed.
Lawns with bare spots are a bit trickier to fix. In the long term, bare spots will likely need to be reseeded, but since you’re selling you may be able to patch the bald spots with sod.
Warmer regions that have gravel lawns will also need to do some maintenance, too, including raking, weeding and replacing gravel in bare or matted spots.
After the major refurbishment of your home’s exterior is taken care of, there are still a few smaller elements that need may addressing.
4. Attention to Details: Mailboxes, Walkways and Drives Add Extra Appeal
Have you ever stayed at a luxury hotel and felt as if your every want and need was well taken care of? Those 5-star resorts achieve that upscale ambience by paying attention to all the little details that others overlook.
This same strategy can be used to give your home that “extra-special” curb appeal edge that’ll help it sell faster and for more money.
These little details might be as simple as replacing your old mailbox or installing new address numbers to make your home easy to find.
Removing elements from your yard may also improve our home’s curb appeal.
Just like your interior, your front yard need to be depersonalized, so take down any quirky lawn ornaments like garden gnomes or pink flamingos. Also remove outdoor decor that proclaims your family’s last name or initials—this will help buyers to see your house as their future home instead of your current one.
Also consider repairing cracked or buckling driveways and sidewalks, but only if they pose a safety hazard. In fact, unless the damage is severe, buyers probably won’t even notice imperfect walkways and drives.
As Fox advises, “Most buyers aren’t going to ask for a driveway to be repaired. I usually just point it out to the seller and say that my recommendation is not to fix that right now.”
If your driveway does need work, you may be able to get away with repairing or resurfacing it rather than a full replacement.
Driveway repair averages around $3 to $5 per square foot if you make the repairs yourself. Resurfacing runs anywhere from $2 to $8 per square foot depending on the material type, color and patterns.
There are a lot of things that can improve your home’s curb appeal, but none are guaranteed to increase your home’s value. Before you invest any money, review your exterior refurbishment plans and your budget with your real estate agent to determine which improvements are right for your home. Heed your agent’s advice, and your home’s exterior will soon be ready to attract the best offers.