When homebuyers decide to start looking, usually they drive neighborhoods first. If a home looks tacky from the front, they won’t even w
rite down the Realtor’s phone number. First impressions count, so boost your selling price with a little “wow factor.” You can count on getting back almost 100% of what you invest in a few simple outside upgrades.
Step into the buyer’s shoes and look around. Are you impressed with what you see? Here are seven specific suggestions for upgrading your home’s curb appeal.
Come on in You want an entrance that’s inviting, especially if it’s visible from the street. Give the front door a fresh coat of paint with an eye-catching pop of color. Think big picture here. Choose a color that fits with your overall plan and with the home’s existing exterior. If doorknobs and hinges are outdated or shabby, replace them. If the screen door is sagging, get a new one or remove it altogether.
Give it a bath You may not have the time or money for a full exterior paint job. But power washing is the next best thing. You can rent equipment at some hardware stores or home improvement centers. Or you can buy a decent power washer for around $100. Make sure all the trim, siding, garage door and other visible parts get a good shower. Use it on porches, stairs and decks as well.
What do you see? According to an old English proverb, the eyes are the windows of the soul. What do your windows say about the soul of your home? At the very least, make sure they are sparkling clean, inside and out. If screens are rusted, torn or broken, replace them. If you want to go a bit more upscale, upgrade the frames or even add some shutters. Exterior shutters come in many finishes, including wood, aluminum, vinyl, composite, or fiberglass. Newer materials, such as PVC resins or polyurethane, are both durable and low maintenance. Here again, make sure the color blends with the rest of your exterior.
Fix the fixtures Your house numbers should stand out and be clearly visible from the street. Try bronze or brass for more traditional homes and brushed nickel if you’re on the contemporary side. A new light fixture over the front door can add a lot of style. How does your mailbox look? A coat of paint that matches your house will help, but if it’s dented, damaged or outdated, replace it. Keep all these elements in the same color family—avoid saving money with mix-and-match options.
Install outdoor lighting Low-voltage lighting has two positive effects: it improves both your appearance and your security. Light fixtures can accent trees or the house itself. They can also illuminate the front walkway or drive. If you aren’t able to use lights that require wiring, solar fixtures are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. However, their light levels may not be as bright as wired fixtures.
Create an instant garden Perhaps it’s the wrong time of year for planting, or you don’t have time to wait for flowers to bloom. No worries. You can buy ready-made container gardens at any nursery or home improvement store. If you want to invent your own, just assemble a collection of interesting pots and fill them with colorful seasonal plants. Massing several pots together creates a more dynamic statement than spreading them out.
Add some window boxes Window boxes are a fast, easy way to add some charm to your exterior. Choosing boxes of copper or iron will give you a traditional look, while painted wood has more of a cottage feel. There are many light-weight varieties made of resin and other synthetics that are easy to move around. Some boxes are made to fit over porch railings or window sills, so no installation is necessary. Mix and match seasonal flowers and plants to suit your color scheme.
When it comes to curb appeal, a little time and money will pay off big in the end. You want your home’s next owner to drive by and see an open invitation to “come on in.”