Curb appeal has always been important for homesellers. With the vast majority of today’s homebuyers starting their search on the Internet, the appearance of your property is more critical than ever. You only have a few seconds to catch their attention as they scroll through listings online to get them to stop and take a closer look.
But the role of curb appeal goes beyond just making a good first impression. The way your house looks from the street can impact its value. It can also shorten the time it takes to sell your house.
We asked real estate agents, appraisers, home stagers, landscape designers, and home inspectors which curb appeal projects offer the most value when your house is on the market, both in terms of its marketability and dollars. Here is what they told us:
1. Paint the house.
Hands down, the most commonly offered curb appeal advice from our real estate pros and appraisers is to give the exterior of your home a good paint job. Buyers will instantly notice it and appraisers will note it on the valuation.
“Paint is probably the number one thing inside and out,” says Frank Lucco, managing partner of Houston-based IRR-Residential Appraisers and Consultants. “I’d give additional value for that. If you’re under two years remaining life (on the paint job), paint the exterior because it tends to show wear badly.”
Just make sure you stay within the range of accepted colors for your market. A house that’s painted a wildly different color from its competition will be marked down in value by appraisers.
2. Have the house washed.
Before you make the investment in a paint job, though, take a good look at the house. If it’s got mildew or general grunge, just washing the house could make a world of difference.
Pressure-washing—a job that should be left to professionals. Pressure washing makes the house look crisp and clean. The cost to have a professional cleaning should be a few hundred dollars—a fraction of the cost of having the house painted.
3. Trim the shrubs and green up the yard.
Consider cutting down overgrown bushes and replacing them with leafy plants and annuals mulched with black or brown bark. It shouldn't cost more than $40 or $50 and will you get a return on your money? Absolutely. It's like the icing on a cake.
You also don’t want bare spots. Take the timeo fertilize the yard. Add some sod if needed.
4. Add a splash of color.
It could be a flower bed of annuals by the mailbox, a paint job for the front door, or a brightly colored bench or an Adirondack chair. You can probably get a cute little bench at Home Depot or Lowe's for $99 or less. Or pick one up at a garage sale and spray paint it black, brown, red or whatever fits in with the exterior of your home.
It’s not a bad idea, but don’t plan on getting extra points from an appraiser for a red bench, says John Bredemeyer, president of Realcorp in Omaha. “It’s difficult to quantify, but it does make a home sell more quickly,” Bredemeyer says. “Maybe yours sold a couple weeks faster than the house down the street. That’s the best way to look at these things.”
5. Add a fancy mailbox and house numbers.
An upscale mail box and architectural house numbers or an address plaque can give your house a distinctive look that stands out from everyone else on the block.
6. Repair or clean the roof.
Springfield, Va.-based home inspector and former builder Reggie Marston saysthe roof is one of the first things he looks at in assessing the condition of a home. He’ll look at other houses in the neighborhood to see if there are a lot of replaced roofs and see if the subject house has one as well. If not, he’ll look for curls in the shingles or missing shingles. “I’m looking at the roof for end-of-life expectancy,” he says.
Stains and plant matter, such as moss, can be handled with cleaning. It’s a job that can often be done in a day, and makes the roof look like new. It’s not a DIY project; call a professional with the right tools to clean it without damaging it.
7. Put up a fence.
A fence is an asset. A fence hasmore impact in a family-oriented neighborhood than an upscale retirement community in most instances and appraisers will give extra value for one, as long as it’s in good condition.
8. Perform routine maintenance and cleaning.
Nothing sets off subconscious alarms like hanging gutters, missing bricks from the front steps, or lawn tools rusting in the bushes. It makes even the professionals question what else hasn’t been taken care of.
A house is perceived as being worth less if the maintenance isn’t done. Llittle things can add up and be a very big detractor when a buyer is getting ready to make an offer.
Taken from Pat Curry's 8 Tips for Adding Curb Appeal and Value to Your Home
Georgia-based freelance writer Pat Curry has covered housing and real estate for consumer and trade publications for more than a decade, including covering new home sales and marketing for BUILDER, the magazine of the National Association of Home Builders.
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