Homes with high curb appeal command higher prices and take less time to sell. But which projects boost curb appeal most? Here are financially smart ways to boost your home’s equity with exterior design updates.
1 Wash the Exterior of Your HomeBefore you scrape any paint or plant more azaleas, wash the dirt, mildew, and general grunge off the outside of your house. A bucket of soapy water and a long-handled, soft-bristled brush can remove the dust and dirt that have splashed onto your wood, vinyl, metal, stucco, brick, and fiber cement siding. Power washers can reveal the true color of your stone walkways.Wash your windows inside and out, swipe cobwebs from eaves, and hose down downspouts. Don’t forget your garage door, which was once bright white. If you can’t spray off the dirt, scrub it off with a solution of 1/2 cup trisodium phosphate — TSP, available at grocery stores, hardware stores, and home improvement centers — dissolved in 1 gallon of water.You and a friend can make your house sparkle in a few weekends. A professional cleaning crew will cost more but will finish in a couple of days.
2 Exterior PaintThe most commonly offered curb appeal advice from real estate pros and appraisers is to give the exterior of your home a good paint job. Buyers will instantly notice it, and appraisers will value it. Of course, painting is an expensive and time-consuming facelift. To paint a 3,000-square-foot home, figure on spending $375 to $600 on paint; $1,500 to $3,000 on labor.Your best bet is to match the paint you already have: Scrape off a little and ask your local paint store to match it. Resist the urge to make a statement with color. An appraiser will mark down the value of a house that’s painted a wildly different color from its competition.
3 RoofingThe condition of your roof is one of the first things buyers notice and appraisers assess. Missing, curled, or faded shingles add nothing to the look or value of your house. If your neighbors have maintained or replaced their roofs, yours will look especially shabby. You can pay for roof repairs now or pay for them later in a lower appraisal; appraisers will mark down the value by the cost of the repair. Asphalt shingles are the most cost-effective roofing product available. If you install a new roof using shingles, you’ll get that back — plus a bit more. A new roof has an ROI of 109%.Some tired roofs look a lot better after you remove 25 years of dirt, moss, lichens, and algae. Don’t try cleaning your roof yourself: call a professional with the right tools and technique to clean it without damaging it.
4 Spruce Up the YardA well-manicured lawn, fresh mulch, and pruned shrubs boost the curb appeal of any home. Replace overgrown bushes with leafy plants and colorful annuals. Surround bushes and trees with dark or reddish-brown bark mulch, which gives a rich feel to the yard. Put a crisp edge on garden beds, pull weeds and invasive vines, and plant a few geraniums in pots.Green up your grass with lawn food and water. Cover bare spots with seeds and sod, get rid of crabgrass and mow regularly. If you’re selling anytime soon, any work you do now will reap benefits in your home’s selling price.
5 Add a Splash of ColorEven a little color attracts and pleases the eye of would-be buyers. Plant a tulip border in the fall that will bloom in the spring. Dig a flowerbed by the mailbox and plant some pansies. Place a brightly colored bench or Adirondack chair on the front porch. Get a little daring and paint the front door red or blue. Beautiful colors enhance curb appeal and help your house to sell faster.
6 Update Mailbox and House NumbersAn upscale mailbox, architectural house numbers, or address plaques can make your house stand out. High-style die-cast aluminum mailboxes range from $100 to $350. You can pick up a handsome, hand-painted mailbox for about $50. If you don’t buy new, at least give your old mailbox a facelift with paint and new house numbers.Local home improvement centers or hardware stores have an impressive selection of decorative numbers. Architectural address plaques, which you tack to the house or plant in the yard, typically range from $80 to $200. Brass house numbers range from $3 to $11 each, depending on size and style.
7 FencingA picket fence with a garden gate to frame the yard is an asset. Not only does it add visual punch to your property, but appraisers will also give extra value to a fence in good condition, although it has more impact in a family-oriented neighborhood than an upscale retirement community. If you already have a fence, make sure it’s clean and in good condition. Replace broken gates and tighten loose latches.
8 Keep Up with MaintenanceNothing looks worse from the curb — and sets off subconscious alarms — like hanging gutters, missing bricks from the front steps, or peeling paint. Not only can these deferred maintenance items damage your home, but they can decrease the value of your house by 10%.Here are some maintenance chores that will dramatically help the look of your house:
- Refasten sagging gutters.
- Repoint bricks that have lost their mortar.
- Reseal cracked asphalt.
- Straighten shutters.
- Replace cracked windows.