Are you considering selling your home soon? Before you place it on the market, or even meet with a real-estate agent, it’s never too early to start thinking about how potential buyers will see your home. There’s no way to make up for a bad first impression. How your home looks from the outside will set the tone for how buyers evaluate its inside. That’s why improving your home’s curb appeal should be top on your to-do list if you’re looking to sell your home anytime soon.
Your home’s exterior reflects how well-maintained the rest of the house is. If the outside is a mess, it signifies to the viewer that the interior is a mess as well. When you’re trying to sell your house, you need to be sure the exterior sends the right message to potential buyers. A nice-looking home is more likely to entice buyers to pay the full asking price, or even offer more than asking price. And even if you’re not trying to sell your property, taking time to improve your home’s curb appeal makes it look so much better!
Improving Your Home’s Curb Appeal, Made Easy
As a homeowner, it can be hard to look at your home objectively to see where any potential problems are. But you need to take a step back and do this, or have friends and neighbors help you. Stop thinking of it as your home. Instead, start looking it as a commodity that you are looking to sell for the highest amount possible.
1. Assess your house
Your first job is to figure out what needs improving. Once you’ve identified areas for improvement, you can make a plan. Next time you drive or walk up to your house, take an objective look at it and think about the following things:
- What’s your first impression of the house from the outside?
- What is the best feature of the front of your house and garden, yard, or driveway?
- What is the worst feature of the front of your house and garden, yard, or driveway?
Take photos of the approach to your home from various angles. Try to imagine that you’re a potential house-buyer, and consider what things might put you off from wanting to go inside for a closer look. What needs changing? Make a list of these issues to work through one by one.
Look at your home again in the evening, to see if other issues are more noticeable when the sun’s gone down for the day.
Still stuck? Look around your neighborhood at other homes in your area. Do any stand out as especially nice? Or especially in need of work? What makes them appealing, or off-putting? Flip through some home-decorating or architectural magazines from different seasons of the year. Spend some time studying home exteriors on HGTV. What kinds of exterior upgrades do you see the people making on your favorite home-improvement shows?
Once you’re done making your list, get any needed painting out of the way first. Dull, chipped, or flaking paintwork can be an immediate turn-off, as it’s a red flag that the property is not well-maintained.
Paint the front door, window ledges, and any other painted areas in a fresh, glossy color. While colors such as bright pink and yellow are bright and trendy, make sure they don’t clash with the vibe of your home and your neighborhood. Sometimes, classic colors such as red, plum or deep green can be best. Remember to do it well, or hire a professional; a lousy paint job with drips and runs can be just as off-putting!
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3. Upgrade hardware and lighting
Once you’ve painted your front door, it’s time to update your entryway’s hardware. Replace the old plastic doorbell with something a bit more modern and sophisticated. If your house has an older, more classic look, consider a brass door knocker. For a more contemporary look, try brushed chrome or aluminum. Either way, clean them regularly to remove any grubby fingerprints. And make sure you keep dirty smudges off your door’s edges; melamine sponges (aka Magic Erasers) are perfect for this,
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Also consider your entry lighting. Are your front lights in working order? Would new fixtures enhance your home’s curb appeal? Is the walkway to your house adequately lit at night? Do you have spotlights that need an upgrade? Good lighting creates ambiance and a welcoming feel to your home. Not long after we bought our current home, my husband swapped out our exterior light sconces for new ones, and we hired an electrician to fix our front spotlight and the lamppost along our front walk. Not only were these a great visual improvement to our home, but they supported our neighborhood’s campaign to increase security with better lighting after dark.
Both from a curb appeal perspective and a general security perspective, your porch or entrance to your house should be well-lit, but not overpoweringly so. Symmetrical lights either side of your front door always look nice. If you don’t already have some, consider adding pathway lighting up your front walk or along your driveway. Solar-powered lanterns along your front walk are pretty and also energy-efficient. And it’s easy to add a motion sensor to exterior spotlights, which can provide an extra layer of home security.
Finally, consider what your interior lighting reveals from outside your home at night. Do your window treatments and structural elements need an upgrade, either aesthetically or from a security perspective? Do you spot any broken bulbs, cockeyed lampshades, or other unappealing glimpses of the home inside? Make a note and fix these things ASAP.
4. Check your landscaping and walkway
Next, it’s time to consider the landscaping around your home, especially the front entrance. This goes beyond making sure that your lawn (if you have one) is always neatly trimmed. How are your trees, bushes, and gardens looking? Are they well-tended, or looking overgrown?
If your front yard has too many random bushes, oversized gardens, or dying trees and shrubs, now’s the time to cut them back or replace them. One of the first things I did with our current home’s yard was replace half its sprawling, weedy, wavy-edged front gardens with grass seed. I also pulled out several half-dead thorny shrubs and replaced them with flower bulbs. As a result, our front yard is much easier to mow, and what remains of the flower gardens doesn’t look so rangy now.
What about those walkways, patios, driveways, and retaining walls? Tidy the borders to your gardens and walkways, and weed any cracks in your paving stones. Replace any broken pavers, and sweep everything clean. Get your driveway resealed if it’s overdue. Neaten up your garden borders. And unless you already own a power washer, hire a professional company to power wash your siding, walkways, and anything else that needs a good cleaning.
Consider whether you should add additional flowers or other greenery. If you add (or already have) ivy or other trailing plants, make sure they’re kept well-trimmed and they do not affect the structural integrity of the property. Plastic window boxes with green plants look great and are relatively cheap and low-maintenance. So are topiaries or container gardens placed symmetrically on either side of the front door.
5. Do a final big-picture check
While it shouldn’t be your responsibility, don’t risk letting your neighbors spoil your curb appeal. There’s only so much you can do, of course. But if you’re trying to sell your home, it might be worth asking them if they need any help clearing up their yard, or trimming trees that overhang your property. Even ten minutes of work can make a huge difference.
And don’t forget about your trash cans and recycling bins. Keep them out of sight as much as possible; put them out shortly before your trash pickup, then retrieve them promptly. For the couple of hours a week they ARE visible, make sure they have lids and their outsides are clean.
What is your favorite tip for improving your home’s curb appeal? Let us know in the comments!