Selling Your Home? 18 Ways to Kick Up the Curb Appeal

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Curb appeal is that undefinable something that draws you to a home at a glance. It is a combination of visual charm, visibly good upkeep, attention paid to landscaping and, especially, an inviting entry.

If your home lacks curb appeal, many prospective buyers will reject it without looking further. You also may be unable to price it as high as an equivalent home with great exterior appeal.

To improve curb appeal, begin by imagining that you’re driving up to your home for the first time, says Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson. In the video below, Stacy walks you through curb appeal-enhancing improvements he made to a home he’s selling, explaining why he made the changes he did. After watching, come back here for 18 ways to kick up the curb appeal at your home.

“Like a picture”

In Zillow’s 2014 survey, real estate agents named curb appeal one of the five most important factors in selling a home. California agent Kevin Kieffer told Zillow:

“Your house needs to be framed up: It needs to look like a picture when people pull up. They expect to see tasteful paint colors, well-trimmed grass, new bark, fresh flowers — the whole deal.”

Homes with strong curb appeal fetch prices about 10 percent higher in his East Bay Area region, Kieffer said.

A small budget goes a long way, especially if you do some jobs yourself. Here are 18 ways to bump up your home’s curb appeal:

1. Bust clutter

“Clutter,” of course, is in the eye of the beholder, so think of it this way: Buyers need to imagine your home as their own, with their possessions and their style. Go for a clean, streamlined look:

  • Remove bikes, skateboards, trash cans, garden tools and other evidence of bustling family life.
  • Circle the house with a big garbage can, tossing scraps of paper and plastic, branches, leaves, dog waste and anything else that doesn’t belong in the yard.
  • Edit your home’s exterior. Eliminate all but a few carefully chosen pots and pieces of outdoor furniture.

2. Tour the neighborhood

Walk, bike or drive around your neighborhood for inspiration. It’s useful to see what works in the homes surrounding yours; you’ll want it to fit nicely into the neighborhood style.

Look for simple ideas you can replicate easily for landscaping, paint and plant colors, walkways and entries.

3. Freshen the entry

  • Clean the front door and give it a couple of coats of paint. Repair, replace or remove damaged screen or storm doors.
  • Remove everything, including furniture and pots, from the porch, deck or entry and give the entire area a thorough cleaning. Include: decking or floor, around and above the door, rafters, railings, moldings and steps. Repaint or touch up where needed.
  • Consider a new or custom front door to give the home a well-tended look. Polish metal knobs and fixtures. Place a big planted pot on each side of the front door.

4. Add front door color

A bright note of contrasting color can bring a home’s front door to life. The trick is to choose colors that complement your home’s exterior landscaping and colors.

House Beautiful’s slide show offers ideas for contemporary paint color choices. Better Homes & Gardens explains how to choose a front door color that works with your home.

5. Add living space outdoors

If your porch, deck or garden allows, install furnishings that expand the home’s living space into the outdoors. Outdoor rooms are a trendy attraction for homebuyers. Suggestions: Add an inexpensive indoor-outdoor rug, a porch swing, deck furniture, mood lighting, dining or barbecuing areas or an outdoor bar. This Old House has 39 ideas for creating outdoor living areas on a budget.

6. Repaint the exterior

Repainting the outside of your home isn’t a low-budget option. But if the home is ready for a paint job and you can swing it, boy, does a new coat of paint ever pump up the curb appeal. Use your neighborhood tour to research colors and shades that appeal to you and fit in with neighbors’ homes. If you see a paint color you like, ask the homeowner for the color name and brand.

7. Paint trim

If you can’t paint the entire home, paint the trim — or just the window trim — in an accent color for plenty of pop.

8. Replace entry fixtures

It’s amazing how new exterior light fixtures can update a home. The old fixtures may seem dated and unappealing to a buyer.

While you’re at it, replace the house numbers, the entry door lock set and front-door mailbox with new ones in the same style. Brushed nickel gives a contemporary look, while an oiled bronze finish works well in traditional homes.

9. Power wash

Rent a power washer if you don’t own one and clean decks, carport and pavement. If you can’t repaint, use a power washer carefully to clean and brighten the home’s siding. Power washers can damage wood if used incorrectly, so get instructions from your rental company.

10. Clean and repair paving

Patch and repair concrete and asphalt paving. Apply a new coat of sealer to asphalt. Spread a fresh layer of gravel on gravel drive and paths.

11. Clean the windows

Have windows cleaned or do it yourself, but don’t put your home on the market without sparkling windows, inside and out.

12. Clean and repair the roof

If your roof has moss, weeds or mold, clean it until it looks great from the street. Replace missing or broken shakes or tiles. Clean the gutters.

13. Mow, weed and trim

Keep the lawn carefully mowed. Spend a weekend shaping, pruning and cutting back overgrown shrubs. Mow neglected and overgrown areas. Prune trees and remove limbs hanging over the house. Weed gardens thoroughly and cover beds in mulch or compost.

14. Add high-impact landscaping

Tasteful landscaping can define a home’s exterior. Better Homes & Gardens says, in a slide show on boosting curb appeal, “Surround a walkway with midsize shrubs and flowers; passers-by will notice plant groupings more than individual flowers, making greater streetside impact.”

Also, get instant results by installing a few trees in pots to fill holes or bare spots in the landscaping. Frame the front door or entrance with symmetrical pots holding small trees or medium-sized perennial plants. If your budget is limited, concentrate your purchases on buying plants to create a beautiful entrance.

15. Improve the lawn

It’s hard to make a home look great when the lawn is weedy or sickly. Boost your lawn’s health:

  • Fertilize with compost or a spare application of commercial fertilizer.
  • Set mower blades high.
  • Keep the mower well maintained and the blades sharp.
  • Water once or twice a week, a total of an inch a week, in the early morning.
  • Let clippings fall onto the lawn for nourishment.
  • Replace the lawn with new sod if the damage is intensive.

16. Shrink the lawn

Homebuyers today are all about low maintenance. Reduce the maintenance and the water bill by removing a section of lawn and replacing it with drought-tolerant landscaping.

Here are inspiration and ideas from Sunset magazine. Create new garden beds filled with low-water plantings, stone pavers and gravel paths. Another low-maintenance amenity sure to prove attractive to buyers: Install an irrigation system.

17. Install outdoor lighting

Path lighting is an inexpensive, high-impact upgrade. You can install it yourself. Use a low-voltage outdoor system or skip the wiring altogether and use individual solar path lights. The solar lights are less bright but path lighting doesn’t require blazing light, only visual cues for safety and attractiveness.

Another lighting upgrade: Replace or add lighting fixtures on the home or garage exterior. Again, skip glaring floodlights. They can be blinding, creating a hazard.

18. Edge the garden

Adding a border or edging to paths and garden beds gives landscaping a clean, professional appearance and adds to curb appeal. You have a choice of many materials, including stone, concrete, manufactured stone, wood, brick and metal edging. Be wary of plastic edging. It can look cheap and flimsy, turning off buyers.

Share your experiences preparing a home’s exterior for sale. What did you do to upgrade the curb appeal? Tell us in the comments area below or at Money Talks News’ Facebook page.

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Comments & discussion

We welcome your opinions, but let’s keep it civil. Like many businesses, we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. In our case, that means those who communicate by name-calling, racism, using words designed to hurt others or generally acting like an uninformed bully. Also, comments that include links to email addresses or commercial websites typically aren't posted. This isn't a place to advertise your business.

  • LagunaLady27

    This is one of the most comprehensive and informative articles I have read on this subject. Congrats to the author.

  • marketfog

    I used to walk the neighborhood picking up trash, etc. If you have a poorly maintained vacant home near you, do yourself a favor by cleaning up the yard and maybe mowing it occasionally. At least it won’t turn off potential buyers. Maintaining the landscape is an ongoing job. Repair unhealthy lawns, mow them regularly. Keep the hedges and shrubs under control, don’t let them get overgrown. Repair fences and keep them painted. This is an ongoing project and takes a lot of work, even in small yards.

  • cybrarian_ca

    A follow up article on how to make your house appealing when you live next to the neighborhood crazies/slobs/monsters would be great. Can’t clean their yard – they still live there, & are aggressive, hostile criminals.

  • Maddy

    A great way to add quick curb appeal to a plain slab front door is with
    ready to install door moulding kits, available online. Front doors can
    be expensive to replace, but with one of these kits (5 styles available)
    it saves time, money and they are excellent quality, it will make your
    door look like a custom door. They also have kits for plain slab
    interior doors and walls as well. You don’t even have to nail or glue
    them, they have an adhesive on the back so you just stick them on, all
    you have to do is put caulking around the edges.