The Four Best Areas to Focus On to Increase Your Home’s Curbside Appeal
According to the National Association of Realtors, 63 percent of homebuyers will drop by after viewing a home they like online. The term you’ll hear for this first is “curbside appeal,” and it refers to the first impression buyers have of a property. No matter how great a home is inside, it’s first impressions of the outside that matter.
What will buyers see when they pull up to your home? The next time you pull up to your home take a look at what you see. Drive by it both ways and really see what it looks like. Think like a buyer. What would they see? If you think your home looks “fine,” then ask friends or a couple of realtors for an unbiased opinion.
First Impressions Matter
Buyers take a broad, quick, overall glance at your home and lawn. What they see in those first few seconds colors their impression of the four main areas they focus on next – your front entry, yard/landscaping, driveway/sideway and roof.
Your front entry is the focal point of your curb appeal, so make sure this area gets the most attention. If you don’t have entryway lighting you should, not only for safety but for the warm, welcoming glow of light that evening buyers see. You don’t have to install an expensive system. There are many affordable LED and solar lights available. You just stick them in the ground where you want them. Mother nature and the solar chips do the rest. Other ways you can brighten up your entryway without going into debt are:
- Paint the front door and trim, including shutters if you have them, with a bright color, like red, turquoise, or a contrasting color to the house. Paint is a very inexpensive way to make a big impression.
- If you can’t paint, then polish. Make sure the doorbell works, and that any metal is shined or polished and working well. This includes your house numbers. Make sure your hardware is up-to-date, not mismatched, and is clean and free of rust.
- Make sure all your exterior lights are working, and that dead insects are cleaned out of coverings around the lights.
- A holiday wreath, or some kind of door knocker, swag or decorative item can also make the home more welcoming.
- Add large potted plants to your deck or porch. Create a casual outdoor garden with a variety of bright containers.
- Create a welcoming path. If your current walkway is concrete, consider upgrading to cobblestone, tile, or brick to punch up the look. You can also stain or paint your concrete. If you don’t want to change your walkway, plant interesting focal points along it – like plants, or a pebbled or rock shoulder on each side of the path.
- Do a “mailbox makeover” by replacing, painting or dressing up your mailbox.
- Do away with that dingy brown welcome mat and invest in something large, bright, and cheery.
- Do you have room for a rocking chair or two, or even a bench? If you do, put something on your front entryway that says it’s a comfortable place to sit and relax.
- Consider adding an arbor at the entryway to the path to your front door, or near the front door.
- If you have a porch or covered seating area, consider adding some outdoor curtains to set off a seating area, to block the sun, or to add a touch of color.
Yard or Landscaping
Even if you’re not a big flower or landscaping fan, you can’t go wrong with a pop of color from flowers on your porch, along the drive, or around your trees.
You don’t have to hire a landscaper to get great results, although it’s a good idea if you feel totally lost about what to plant. Many commercial nurseries have landscapers who can help you develop a good layout, select the right plants and give you tips on planting and maintaining your new landscaping, often for free if you purchase your plants there. Don’t make the mistakes most homeowners make.
- Don’t plant without a plan. Take time to talk to your local nursery’s staff about plants, plans and planting tips before you buy and before you plant.
- Plant to proper distance. Yes, it’s important to fill out your landscaping, but let nature do it naturally. Stick to the expert’s suggestions for how close to plant your flowers, trees and shrubs so they have room to grow and fill in naturally. Yes, it may all look sparse for a year or two, but it will quickly fill in and be healthy too.
- Plant a variety of plants so something is blooming year-round. If all you plant are bulbs, or azaleas, your yard is only going to be colorful a couple of times a year. This is where planning comes in.
- Weed regularly. The best, most robust flowers look bad if surrounded by weeds, or dead blooms. Pinch off the dead blooms and weed weekly to ensure a clean, crisp, cared-for look. Mulch where appropriate.
- Mow and trim. Buyers want to see a well-maintained lawn, side, back and front yards. You can’t just get away with a well-tended front yard. Side yards with no grass, piled high with toys, boxes and other items turn buyers off. Clean up every outside area around your home. Seed any bare areas, weed and trim bushes, hedges, and other areas.
- Repair or remove old, broken, or outdated fencing. You may be used to that old rusted metal fence, but buyers won’t like it. Repair, replace, or paint fencing.
Driveway and Walkway
Home buyers may or may not use your driveway, but they’ll sure notice it. Make sure it’s clear of toys, bikes, boxes, and anything that will detract from the home’s appearance. Move these items to a shed, backyard, or basement if possible. Other things to tend to with driveways and walkways include:
- Repair cracked and damaged walkways. Missing bricks, cracked concrete or asphalt driveways can be dangerous, causing falls and damaging tires. It’s cheaper to repair a cracked asphalt drive than to replace it. A new asphalt topcoat runs about $2 a square foot. However, badly damaged concrete should be replaced.
- Make sure your driveway is lighted and easy for guests to navigate to the front door.
- Consider enhancing the drive with plants or rocks on each side if appropriate for your home’s design.
Look up! Don’t forget your roof when enhancing your home’s curb appeal.
- Clean out your gutters. Make sure all your gutters are secured and strapped in place, not hanging free of the roof.
- Take down old Christmas or holiday lighting hooks unless you have a lighting system designed to be left up year-round.
- Clean dead leaves and pine needles off of the roof.
- Consider putting on a new roof if yours is nearing the end of its functional life cycle. If you can’t afford a new roof, hire a professional to give it a good cleaning. Or see what your home would look like with a new roof by uploading a photo and testing out a new look.
The time and money you invest in improving your curbside appeal will more than pay for itself. A few hundred dollars and a weekend or two spent improving your home’s first impression can result in thousands of dollars in the purchase price, so take the time to do it right.