When you hear “curb appeal,” you imagine a perfectly manicured lawn bordered by colorful perennial flowers. But if you’re selling your home when the snow arrives, lush landscaping isn’t an option. You’ll need to get creative with your winter curb appeal to give buyers a cheerful first impression.
And trust us, winter curb appeal is well worth the effort. According to our recent Top Agent Insights Report, 76% of agents agree that great curb appeal is the best thing sellers can do to boost a home’s marketability. What’s more: 94.5% of top agents believe that excellent curb appeal translates into higher offers that add value to a seller’s bottom line.
“If people don’t like the outside, they are going to think the inside looks bad, too,” comments Nicole Hajdu, a top Chicago real estate agent who sells homes 49% faster than the average agent. “It has to look like a show home, inside and out. The way the house looks on the outside is really painting a picture of what it’s like inside.”
With insight from Hajdu, we put together this list of 12 winter curb appeal ideas to beautify your exterior no matter what the sky throws at it. You can tackle each of these easy projects in a weekend to quickly whip your exterior into shape for your home sale.
1. Paint the front door a cheery shade
71% of top agents in our Top Agent Insights report recommend applying a fresh coat of paint to the front door before selling the house.
“Make sure that it’s a bright color because it’s dark during the winter,” says Hajdu. “That really can be a showstopper. There’s a lot of bright blue and red doors, especially on white houses.”
In addition to paint, purchase painter’s tape, a paint tray, a roller, and brushes. On average, the average cost to paint a door runs between $79.45 and $180.42, according to Porch.com. Benjamin Moore’s handy calculator lets you know exactly how much paint to buy, typically around ¾ of a quart.
2. Invest in new address numbers and a mailbox
An easy way to boost winter curb appeal is to update your address numbers and mailbox. Swapping out address numbers takes less than an hour and only requires the new numbers, nails, and a hammer.
Pick a style that complements your home’s architecture and match the finish to either the mailbox or your door hardware. For example, these arts and crafts numbers perfectly suit bungalow-style homes. Explore options for your home on websites like Modern House Numbers and Etsy.
If you have a post mailbox facing the street, it’s likely one of the first features a buyer will notice about your home. Replace your rusty mailbox with a new one from a hardware store like Home Depot or Lowes. If your existing mailbox just needs a clean, follow these easy tips to clean it up using everyday household products like baking soda or vinegar and grade #3 steel wool.
And lastly, don’t forget to brush snow off your new address numbers and mailbox before open houses and home showings!
3. Tidy up your landscaping by removing debris
Winter weather is no excuse for neglecting your landscaping. Even if a potential buyer lacks a green thumb, they’ll notice a dying plant or bush in need of a trim. Remove anything dead or unlikely to survive winter from your front yard and porch.
“Dust off the bushes in the front,” shares Hajdu, who advises sellers to do this even if you think the snow dusting looks charming. You’ll also want to remove autumn leaves that accumulate on the tops of bushes for a tidier appearance.
Before every home showing, check your front yard for pet droppings and yellow snow — your cute corgi’s morning mess is a turn off for buyers.
4. Hire a professional roofer to inspect your roof’s shingles
Winter storms wreak havoc on your roof and can crack, warp, and blow away its shingles. However, we don’t recommend going up on the roof alone in icy conditions. Hire a professional to inspect and repair your roof in the fall before the first frost if possible. The average cost for a roof inspection runs between $119 and $306.
This proactive home improvement might even spare you from drama after the home sale papers are signed. “A lot of inspectors don’t go on the roof,” says Hajdu, sharing that she’s experienced buyers complaining about the roof’s condition after closing. “You don’t want any issues with the buyer.”
5. Clear driveways and walkways for improved curb appeal and safety
Homebuyers who see an un-shoveled walkway will immediately visualize themselves in-charge of the back-breaking task. They also may feel suspicious of the hardscape’s condition if they can’t see it for themselves. Clear your walkways and driveways to prevent your buyers from having these negative thoughts upon arrival.
Stock up on extra ice melt to keep your driveway and walkways clear and safe throughout the listing period. Compare pellet, granule, and liquid options with Lowe’s Snow and Ice Melting Buying Guide. A 50-pound bag of ice melt costs $13 to $25 on average.
Once you’ve cleared your pathways, light them up with solar-powered lights sturdy enough to survive the winter. If you live in an area with heavy snowfall, opt for lights with tall posts, so they don’t get buried under the snow.
6. Stage your porch with weather-resistant outdoor furniture
If you have a covered porch, stage a pair of chairs with colorful throw pillows, cozy blankets, and a textured outdoor rug to create a welcoming first impression. Hajdu suggests an Adirondack or rocking chair “that can withstand the winter.”
Prices for these chair styles run the gamut, but you can find affordable options at retailers like L.L. Bean (see their all-weather Adirondack chair for $249) or Home Depot (like this oak rocking chair for $108).
7. Add warm lighting for glowy evening listing photos
During dark winter days, your home needs all the glow it can get. Add lanterns to your porch to bring your winter curb appeal to life in dreamy evening listing photos. A well-lit home is also essential for impressing buyers who drive by your property at night.
Hajdu adores 12-inch-tall orbs gold or silver orbs like these from Wayfair that cost $56. “It’s the least amount of money you will be spending to get a large return,” Hajdu comments.
When selecting lanterns, choose weather-resistant products with stone or metal frames like these Plow & Hearth solar-powered lanterns from Wayfair for $100. Delicate lanterns with exposed glass and ceramic may crack when exposed to drastic temperature changes and snowfall.
8. Landscape with winter-hardy plants
Tulips and peonies won’t thrive in winter, so don’t bother filling your planters with them in fall. Instead, swap out spring and summer favorites with winter-hardy options. “Mums are a great plant to put out in a pot,” shares Hajdu, commenting that their yellow and orange petals add a sunny touch.
Here are ten evergreen shrubs that survive and thrive all winter long:
- Inkberry Holly
- Evergreen Azalea
- Mountain Laurel
- Golden Euonymus
- Winter Heath
- Oregon Grape
- Blue Holly
9. Winterize gutters to prevent icicle formation
A hot lead can turn ice-cold the minute a potential buyer spots a row of pesky icicles dangling from your roof or gutters. No matter how “winter wonderland” the scene appears, it indicates that you haven’t prepared your gutters for the winter. Safely knock down icicles with a telescopic roof rake. You’ll also want to clean your gutters periodically to prevent ice dams from forming and damaging your exterior features.
10. Accessorize your entry with a durable welcome mat
Shop for a doormat that’ll stand up to wet, muddy boots all winter long. Message-wise, keep it simple — “Home is where the dog is” could turn off potential buyers who don’t share your love for four-legged friends.
“It can either be a black rubber one or one that says ‘welcome.’ Leave it as blank as possible,” says Hajdu. Online retailers like Amazon, Wayfair and Target all sell welcome mats for under $20.
11. Refresh trim and railings with a new coat of paint or stain
Freshly painted trim and railing is a winning winter curb appeal idea. These details help revive your home for a fraction of the cost of painting the entire exterior. Ideally, you’ll want to complete this project before weather conditions turn stormy, so the paint or stain has time to dry. This handy Ace Hardware video walks you through staining railings for the first time, right on down to the spindles.
12. Go easy on holiday décor
In our Top Agent Insights Report, 65% of top agents say that adding a little cheer with holiday decorations can help attract buyers. Just ensure that your holiday decorations are tasteful (no lasers or projectors, please!) and avoid religious imagery. Decorations featuring menorahs and nativity scenes might make it difficult for someone who doesn’t share your faith to picture themselves living in your home.
Agents also recommend limiting your holiday decorations to the window between the day after Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. For smaller winter holidays like Valentine’s Day, play it safe and only decorate with a single item such as a garden flag or themed doormat.
13. Show off your winter curb appeal with fresh listing photos
Incorporate these winter curb appeal ideas and watch your home transform into the cheeriest house on the block. Once your home’s ready to hit the market, take professional photos of your home’s exterior, so your home listing looks fresh and reflects the current season.
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