Curb Appeal 101: What it is and How to Achieve it

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of good curb appeal and the difference it can make when putting your home up for sale. After all, the way your home appears from the street usually serves as a buyer’s first impression of the property. Whether you’re a seller who’s ready to move on to your next home or an investor looking to score top dollar, you’re going to want the property’s first impression to be a good one.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share a few tips that will have the most impact. Read on below to learn what curb appeal is, why it’s so important when selling your home, and what you can do to improve curb appeal in your home. Armed with these curb-appeal tips, you’ll have all the knowledge you’ll need to get your home ready to hit the market at your ideal asking price.

What is Curb Appeal?

As the term implies, “curb appeal” refers to the way your home looks when it’s viewed from the street. It’s a combination of all the eye-catching design elements that are used to make your home’s exterior look its best.

Homeowners often do their best to add curb appeal because they want their home to be aesthetically pleasing when they pull into their driveway at the end of a long day. Afterall, for most, our homes are a source of pride. Aesthetic curb appeal becomes even more important when deciding to put our property on the market.

After doing a quick search on Pinterest, I came across some really great visual examples of homes with curb appeal. Read on for ideas on how you can achieve an exterior look that sells! If you’re in the Richmond, Virginia area and considering selling your home, as your agent I will help you decide which, if any, profitable changes to consider making to optimize your home’s curb appeal.

Why is Curb Appeal Important When Selling a Home?

When you’re putting a property on the market, taking the time to ensure that the home has good curb appeal has two distinct purposes. On one hand, it often serves as potential buyers’ first impressions of the property. Essentially, if they like what they see of the home’s exterior, they’re more likely to walk through the front door, which is, after all, usually the first step toward receiving an offer.

On the other hand, taking the time to boost curb appeal can also have an impact on how much the buyer decides to offer for the home. In fact, a new study that appeared in The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics found that good curb appeal can raise a property’s value by up to 7%.

How to Improve a Home’s Curb Appeal

Now that you know how it can help when selling a home, the next step is to learn how to put it all into action and enhance your curb appeal. Below are a few easy curb-appeal ideas that won’t break the bank or take an unreasonable amount of effort.

• Create a welcoming entryway.

With curb appeal, your first step should be to create a welcoming entryway. That means staging the area around the front door to look its best. To that end, think about giving the door a fresh coat of paint and adding a new welcome mat into the mix. If you don’t already have some, consider hanging house numbers above or near the door so your property is easily identifiable from the road. Look for house numbers with a fresh, modern style to them.

That said, keep in mind that improving curb appeal means thinking beyond the doorstep. If you have a front porch, for example, you’ll want to take the time to set up outdoor furniture, creating a seating area that looks and feels inviting. In addition, you could line the steps of your porch with potted plants as a way of subtly guiding buyers to the door. I don’t know about you, but seeing colorful, potted flowers on any given occasion changes my mood. If your potential buyers are happy even before they walk through the front door, you’re off to a great start. 

• Invest in strategic landscaping.

Beyond the entryway, you’ll want to be sure to invest in the right landscaping. In this case, your investment doesn’t have to be substantial, but some money should be spent on things that will have a big impact. For instance, if your home has window boxes, you’ll want to be sure each one is filled with lively, blooming flowers or some sort of inviting greenery.

If, on the other hand, you simply have typical flower beds, you may be able to get away with using last year’s plants. In that case, you’ll simply want to make sure you add some fresh mulch to the beds and care for the plants as needed.

• Add plenty of light.

Adding exterior lights is another way to increase curb appeal, particularly if you’re listing the property in the fall or winter. In that case, many showings are likely to take place after dark, so make sure your driveway and any paths to your front door are well lit. (After all, you don’t want any potential buyers to fall down the porch steps––that’s a real mood changer.)

Consider adding more exterior lighting to your home, like these, which could line the driveway leading up to your front step (plus, they’re solar powered and affordable). If you already have some in place, make sure that they function properly. Be sure to replace any light bulbs that need to be changed, and always remember to turn the lights on before evening showings.

• Clean it up.

Similar to how the interior of your home needs to be cleaned before buyers come in for showings, the exterior of your home should be cleaned as well. If appropriate for your home’s facade (siding, stucco, brick, wood), take the time to clean it with a pressure washer. Odds are, you’ll be surprised what a difference this task makes. It’s amazing how dirty the exterior of your home can get over the years! Before listing your property, it’s important to take heed of a few clean and repair suggestions such as killing mold and mildew on the house, sidewalks, roof, or driveway and edging sidewalks and removing vegetation growing between concrete or bricks.  If you can justify the cost of a new door, consider replacing plain door knob hardware with something more attractive and modern.

• Commit to upkeep.

Lastly, make sure you commit to keeping your yard looking its best while your home is on the market. Mow the lawn regularly, and make an effort to keep weeds at bay. If you list your home in the fall, I recommend keeping a rake or leaf blower handy on the property. 

Common Curb Appeal Mistakes to Avoid

Even the smartest homeowners sometimes make mistakes, but you don’t have to! If your goal is to improve curb appeal, make sure to stay away from the following:

• Investing in big-ticket fixes.

When the property you’re selling is a fixer-upper, do your best to avoid making big-ticket fixes, if at all possible. For example, completely redoing the landscaping in your yard, instead of opting for the type of strategic fixes mentioned earlier, could certainly boost curb appeal, but the return on investment probably won’t match what you put out. With that in mind, do your best to invest wisely in improvements that will pay off.

• Choosing the wrong paint colors.

Believe it or not, paint can have a huge impact on buyers’ impressions of a home. If you’re considering giving the home’s exterior a new paint job, be sure to choose neutral, popular shades. The idea here is that you’ll want your property’s appearance to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible. Check out these paint colors for some inspiration. 

When in doubt, ask your Realtor to give their opinion on potential paint colors. They’ll be able to give you color combinations that work well together, as well as offer insights on which shades are trending.

• Making your landscaping too personal.

When landscaping your yard––whether hiring a professional or doing it yourself––beware of having it become too tailored to your own sense of personal taste. It’s the same idea as the interior of your home. Since you’re getting ready to sell, you should make sure all of your improvements are as neutral as possible. The goal is to try to appeal to a wide variety of buyers, so even your landscaping should reflect that.

So, What’s the Bottom Line Here?

By now, it should be obvious that improving curb appeal is an essential step in selling a house. Before your property hits the market, take the time to evaluate how it looks from the street. If needed, use these curb appeal tips to get your home’s exterior into its best possible shape. Trust me when I say that you’ll be glad you invested the time and energy into creating and maintaining good curb appeal when potential buyers begin to inquire about your property!

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