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Even if you aren’t preparing to sell your home, improving your home’s “curb appeal,” or it’s outside appearance, is important for many reasons. 

No one wants to be the one home in the cul-de-sac with the chipping paint and the overgrown grass - and be the target of the homeowner’s association or neighborhood gossip!

Your curb appeal is also a huge contributor to your home’s overall value - and your home equity. 

But curb appeal is more than just a fresh coat of paint and mowing the lawn. 

Learn more about what curb appeal really means and the top ways to improve yours in this article.

What does “Adding Curb Appeal” Mean?

Curb appeal is essentially how attractive your house is to potential buyers. It’s the first impression potential buyers have of the home, and is important in setting the tone for their perception of the property, says Miami real estate agent Trey Van Tuyl. 

In particular, it’s the front exterior of your home - and can sometimes even include the interior on the ground floor, or the first thing guests will see when they walk inside. 

Curb appeal should make your home eye-catching from afar - it doesn’t just mean a nice or attractive exterior. 

Even if a home is beautiful up-close, you may not be able to see it from the street through foliage, trees, gates and weeds. 

Curb appeal is the ability of a home to be attractive all the way from the sidewalk or curb.

Adding curb appeal is, therefore, any effort or project that will make a home more attractive from the street to potential buyers, visitors or on-lookers. 

Why is Curb Appeal Important?

Curb appeal helps maintain the perceived value of your home. A first impression is everything and curb appeal is your home or neighborhood’s first impression, according to Donovan Reynolds, a Georgia real estate agent. 

The reason that curb appeal plays such a huge role in the value of your home is because home viewings and appraisals are typically pretty short - and viewers don’t have very long to make an opinion. 

Most realtors consider curb appeal to be absolutely essential when selling a home - but it’s also important in general. 

The outside of your home contributes to its overall value just as much as the inside, and you want the outside to reflect the inside as well. 

Certain projects that add curb appeal - like painting, landscaping, etc. - can increase the value of your home, too. 

Even your neighbors curb appeal can affect your own home’s attractiveness - so it’s important for your home, and it’s surrounding homes, to look nice.

Does Curb Appeal Increase Home Value?

It’s difficult to say definitively, because it’s not a black and white issue. It depends on the project, your home, and your home’s location.

But - according to the National Association of Realtors, when homeowners invest in professional landscape services to design and maintain their yard, their home’s value can increase by nearly 15%.

Even just replacing stunted plants, trimming shrubs, adding fresh mulch, and keeping your lawn healthy and trimmed can add 7% to your home’s value. 

Having a higher curb appeal can lead to a house being appraised at a higher price than another house of the same size and features but with lower curb appeal, but it’s never a guarantee. 

How Can You Get Cheap Curb Appeal?

There are lots of ways to increase your home’s curb appeal, depending on your home’s aesthetic, the style of the other home’s on your street, and your budget. 

Quick Fixes

These projects will give you the best ROI - as they are free! They should also be at the top of your to-do list for curb appeal.

  1. Remove any mold and mildew
  2. Clean dirty windows
  3. Store any equipment that you use
  4. Keep trash cans clean and to the side
  5. Clean up your front yard and driveway
  6. Mow the lawn
  7. Trim any shrubs
  8. Remove any stunted plants

DIY Projects

If you want to take things up a notch without breaking your budget, these DIY curb appeal projects on a budget are perfect for making a much bigger impact. All of these are low-cost projects that you can complete yourself.

  1. A new door handle
  2. A new mailbox
  3. Painting the front door
  4. Pressure washing the exterior of the home, porches, decks and driveways
  5. Add window boxes 
  6. Add planters to the porch
  7. Change out house numbers - make them large and easy to read
  8. Plant colorful, eye-catching flowers

Large Projects

Obviously, these larger projects will cost much more - but they’ll go a long way for your home’s value. These options range anywhere from $1,000 to $30,000+ (hello, outdoor kitchen!) - so you’ll be paying a lot more, but these updates will also be much more enjoyable for you. 

  1. Installing a new walkway
  2. Update porch furniture
  3. Adding new landscaping
  4. Painting the exterior of your home
  5. Adding outdoor lighting
  6. A paver patio
  7. An outdoor grill island
  8. A full outdoor kitchen
  9. A fire pit area

Biggest Curb Appeal Mistakes

Even if you’re not looking to put a ton of effort into your home’s curb appeal, there may be some things that are secretly doing you harm that you’re not aware of. 

It’s important to know what may or may not be affecting your curb appeal currently - and subsequently, your neighbor’s asking price on their home.

No planning

“Just plunking plants here and there isn’t going to cut it,” says Sean O’Brien, the CMO at Modloft. 

Your curb appeal should be intentional - adding random plants, decorations or accessories to your home without concern for the overall look is just going to make your home look cluttered or out of place. 

Peeling paint

One of the worst things homeowners can do is ignore peeling paint. “Anything that makes people wonder about what condition the home must be in, or makes it appear to be not well-taken-care of,” says Trey. 

The paint on your home will overshadow all your other efforts toward curb appeal if it’s not in good shape. 

Dirty decor

Snowstorms, rain, animals, and time in general can start to wear on your outdoor furniture and decor. 

You can’t just expect to furnish your outdoor space and let it sit until the end of time. Tattered or broken lawn ornaments and furniture look much worse than none at all. 

Make sure to check on your curb appeal after each season, and any major weather events.

Unkempt landscaping

Taking care of basic yard maintenance greatly increases curb appeal and costs nothing. Overgrown gardens, dying plants, weeds and brown grass, and out-of-control shrubbery all make a home look dirty and lower value. 

This also includes any pavement. If pavement is dirty and cracked - even in a minor way, this can reflect badly on the overall appearance of the home. 

If you’re looking for ways to finance an outdoor project - check out RenoFi’s guide to landscaping and backyard loans.

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