Find a top agent in your area

Get started

5 Homes With Great Curb Appeal and the Stories Behind Them

At HomeLight, our vision is a world where every real estate transaction is simple, certain, and satisfying. Therefore, we promote strict editorial integrity in each of our posts.

When it comes to selling your home, a pleasing exterior isn’t just a nice to have, it’s a money maker. In a 2019 HomeLight survey, over 90% of agents agreed that great curb appeal will add directly to a seller’s bottom line.

“The goal is to have your home win the beauty contest when the listing comes out,” says Phoenix agent Andrew Monaghan, who’s sold 77% more single family homes than the average agent in his area. “Your exterior has to be photogenic for somebody to stop and take that second look.”

But great curb appeal isn’t one-size-fits-all. HomeLight spoke to leading agents across the country about some of their favorite properties and how the owners achieved the look. Start taking notes — because with the right inspiration, achieving that picture perfect exterior shot is easier than you think.

Home #1: Lush greenery and landscaping

A home with great curb appeal.
Source: (Steve Mueller)

What makes this curb appeal great

Owners of this Charlotte, North Carolina property were ready to roll out the green carpet to potential buyers. “To have really green grass in North Carolina, you have to continuously care for it,” explains Steven Mueller, a top-selling agent in the local area. “A lot of preparation went into this home.”

The owners of this property were lawn maintenance fanatics, tending to their lawn seasonally to ensure it’d be emerald green when the time came to plant the for-sale sign in the yard.

Mueller sells properties faster than 50% of the agents in his area, and he knows firsthand how preparation pays off. In a recent HomeLight report, it’s estimated that spending under $300 in lawn care services can yield an astounding 352% ROI.

In addition to the well-cared-for lawn, the landscaping treads the line between visually impressive and low maintenance. The trimmed shrubs look good, but are “easy to maintain and won’t intimidate buyers,” Mueller says.

Finally, the freshly painted door gives buyers a memorable first impression of the property. The seller, a designer by trade, picked the color herself, but Mueller recommends “a door that pops. At a minimum, the door just needs to be freshly painted, and not faded by the sun.”

How to achieve the look:

Plan ahead with lawn care.
If you want to attract buyers with a lush lawn, you need to plan at least a year in advance, says Mueller. “You need to continually seed and fertilize the lawn.” You can’t fake a good lawn fast unless you want to spend between $500-$800 per 1,000 square feet on turfgrass.

Keep shrubs trimmed and tidy.
If you have shrubs on your property, you’ll want to trim them two to three times a year to prevent unhealthy growth.

Paint your door so it pops.
A freshly painted door is an affordable way to add value to your property. “You really want that front door to look nice whenever people pull up to the house,” says Mueller, who often suggests sellers prep their home with a bright blue or red door.

Home #2: A dream porch for all seasons

A home with great curb appeal.
Source: (Steve Mueller)

What makes this curb appeal great

An inviting porch is “highly sought after,” in Mueller’s Charlotte market. A well-staged porch can make buyers feel like they’re already living in the home before they even go through the door. Showing off a porch adds usable square footage to the house, in the eyes of the buyers.

But a porch has to look pristine to pay off. When Mueller got to the property, the porch floorboards were weathered with age, and what would otherwise be a nice seating area was fully exposed to the street. That required some elbow grease from the sellers, and a few well-placed shrubs.

The yard doesn’t have the greenest lawn or brightest flowers, but the added space out front helps set the stage for the property. With additional planters and tidily trimmed shrubs for privacy, buyers can envision using the space and get excited about the home before stepping inside.

How to achieve the look:

Add planters and shrubs for privacy.
The porch is outside and exposed to the street in the front yard, but the well-maintained shrubs and potted plants on the porch help create a sense of privacy.

Install a ceiling fan to extend life on the porch.
Installing a ceiling fan is an affordable way to add value to your porch, Mueller says. “It gets hot here in the summer, so a fan extends the amount of time you can use a porch.” Installing a fan costs between $75-$150, but can make your porch feel immensely more liveable.

Freshly pressure washed and stained floorboards.
Pressure wash your softwood or concrete porch to restore it to its former glory and slap on a fresh coat of solid stain or paint on the porch floor. It’s an affordable afternoon project that’ll make the space look fresh.    

Home #3: No lawn curb appeal

A home with great curb appeal.
Source: (Drew Coleman)
A home with great curb appeal.
Source: (Drew Coleman)

What makes this curb appeal great

This unique property channels some serious Sleepless in Seattle vibes, explains top-selling Portland, Oregon real estate agent Drew Coleman.

But, when there’s no curb to speak of, how do you create curb appeal? Coleman set up a front door vignette that “was really more of the curation process of removing and working with the seller’s existing furnishing,” and focused energies on the back entry, accessible only by boat.

Coleman recognized the houseboat wasn’t for everyone, but he used curb appeal to highlight the surroundings, blending where the home ends and the view begins.

How to achieve the look:

Match exterior staging to the home’s style.
Coleman and his seller client worked with an interior designer to stage the entire home, making sure the laid-back coastal vibes of the interior were reflected on the exterior.

They wanted it to feel like a “state of constant vacation,” Coleman says. By selecting a few seaside treasures, like driftwood and seaglass, and avoiding personal mementos, they told a story that everyone could understand.

Showcase the show-stopping elements.
If you’ve got a view, flaunt it. Coleman staged both the front and back as liveable outdoor spaces not only to add to the square footage of the property, but to showcase the amazing views on the water.

If there’s an element of your property, such as a vista or one of a kind view, that makes it unique, find a way for buyers to linger there. Adding outdoor furniture to the back patio makes it feel like another room in the home, while also inviting the buyer to take in the serene view.

Add thematic pops of color.
The bold blue door makes this property pop and appears repeatedly in the exterior. “It helps people think about the water,” explains Coleman.

Home #4: Tidy trees and defined beds

A home with great curb appeal.
Source: (Steve Mueller)

What makes this curb appeal great

Not every home will have a picture-perfect lawn, in fact 69% of homeowners say their lawn needs improvement. However, tidily trimmed trees and well-organized beds will go a long way, says Mueller.

On this flipped property, the lawn is neatly trimmed, but it’s not golf course green. To counteract the somewhat patchy lawn. “We laid down a good hardwood mulch in the beds,” explains Mueller. “We sold that in a couple of days. Our main focus was defining beds around the house.”

How to achieve the look:

Clearly define and edge the beds.
Create borders, or an edge, along the sides of your garden beds to give them a professional finish that visually divides the property and makes it appear larger. You can use edging materials or a manual garden edger along the sides of the beds to achieve this look.

Use plenty of mulch.
Mulch will work wonders on landscaping and the ROI isn’t too shabby either. According to a HomeLight survey, sellers can expect a 126% ROI for this home improvement project, and 84% of those agents surveyed recommend laying down mulch before putting a home on the market.

Keep the lawn tidy.
A patchy lawn looks even worse when it’s overgrown. No matter its condition, keep your grass uniformly trimmed between 2.5 and 3 inches long.

Home #5: Inviting lighting and a welcoming exterior

A home with great curb appeal.
Source: (Drew Coleman)

What makes this curb appeal great

The challenge for this impressive property was crafting the exterior to complement its grandeur without going overboard.

“We went with an open and airy approach to the front, as not to detract from the amazing scenery views,” says Coleman. The sellers kept the exterior simple but tidy to ensure it wouldn’t turn away buyers who were wary of high-maintenance yards.

While the property was in good condition before listing, Coleman drove the sellers to put in work tidying up the exterior of the home and cleaning up the cobblestones.

“We always joke that we tend to have the most tired clients on the day we list, but the happiest at the closing table,” Coleman says. “We do a lot of prep, since there’s no second chance to make a first impression.”

How to achieve the look:

Make the driveway look pristine.
Your home’s driveway is like the red carpet onto the property, and if it’s well maintained, it’ll set the stage for what’s to come. Rent a pressure washer for about $30 a day from Home Depot to blast away dirt build-up, moss, and other accumulation to “lighten and brighten the entrance,” recommends Coleman.

Use warm lighting.
Coleman turned up the wattage on the outdoor lighting, using LED bulbs for a “much higher output range, which allows you to have very bright exterior lights without overdoing the bulb.

Upgraded shutters and garage.
“Shutters are an inexpensive trick that can be added to provide some contrast to the front of the home,” Coleman says. “Homes can look like big boxes, and shutters can break them up.”

In addition to shutters, a new garage door is one of the best dollar for dollar exterior projects a seller can take on. According to Remodeling Magazine, a new garage door will recoup 97.5% of its value. 

Amazing curb appeal not only attracts more buyer attention, but it also pays off big time. “If you want to improve curb appeal yourself, it’s an easy DIY project,” Mueller says. “It’s also not that expensive to have a group of folks come out and do it in a day.” Whatever route you choose, any project that helps your house sell for more and attract offers without too much effort is a project we can get behind.

Header Image Source: (Artazum / Shutterstock)