10 Easy Ways to Improve Curb Appeal of Your Home

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Just like people, houses only get one chance to make a good first impression. In a tight housing market, your home needs to wow potential buyers with their first look. Curb appeal is what people see when they first pull up to your house, and if it doesn’t feel right, buyers might not even take a look inside.

You can greatly improve the curb appeal of your home without spending a fortune, and without taking weeks for major projects. In fact, there are many ways to spruce up your home’s exterior in as little as a weekend, and with little more than basic DIY skills.

Asses Your Home

Start off by crossing the street, and taking a good, honest look at your house from a distance. Imagine you are seeing it for the first time. Does the house look warm, welcoming and tidy, or does it have a neglected, run-down or dreary appearance? Does it look like a house where a happy, active family enjoys life, or a place that few ever visit? Potential buyers of a home are picturing themselves living there, so be sure the message your house conveys is “a good life.”

Clean Up

You’ll be amazed at the difference a good cleaning job can do. Start off by throwing away any obvious trash, broken items or yard debris. Roll up the hose neatly on the reel. Put away any trashcans, bicycles, garden supplies or sporting gear cluttering the front yard.

Now it’s time for serious cleaning. If you don’t have a pressure washer, see if a neighbor has one to loan, or rent one for an hour or two. Thoroughly wash the entire front of your house, paying special attention to the front porch and the underside of eaves. Pressure wash the windows, then dry with an old towel to avoid spots. Blasting away years of dirt, cobwebs, fallen leaves, dust and grease will immediately freshen and brighten the house’s paint.

Get the Lawn in Shape

Rake up any fallen leaves, and pull weeds. Then get out the lawnmower, and give the grass a haircut. Take time to trim the edges, leaving a sharply defined line.

Fertilize the grass with lawn food appropriate to the grass type and the season, and water well. Make sure all your sprinklers are working, and plan to run them frequently enough to keep the grass green and healthy.

If your lawn has large bare spots, purchase a quick-grow grass seed, scatter on well-worked soil, and keep moist until the seed sprouts.

Plant Flowers

For immediate impact, plant annual flowers that are already in bloom. Break up the soil in your front planting beds, add a bag of mulch, and work the soil into rich, soft loam. Then plant your flowers in large groups so the impact of the color carries to the street.

Set a few large planters on your porch and front walk, and fill them with colorful blooms. If you have a covered porch, hanging baskets really add a punch of color, but do need extra attention to keep them looking good. Make sure to water your newly planted flowers often enough to keep the soil moist, but not soggy.

Trim or Prune Landscape

Nothing says neglect like overgrown or dead plants in front of a home. Prune back greenery for a tidy look, and make sure shrubs are not growing up in front of windows or walkways. Cut any tree limbs that are hanging over walkways, or too close to the house’s roof. Pull weeds and dead plants out of beds and cut any out-of-season perennials down to the ground. Make sure to dispose of all the clippings.

Paint Trim

Painting the entire exterior of your home is a major undertaking, but you can quickly touch up the trim. Purchase exterior paint recommended for trim, and good quality paintbrushes. If old paint is peeling or rough, sandpaper first to give a smooth surface, then paint railings, doorframes, window trim, the eaves and fascia, and any other decorative elements that could use a touch-up.

Replace the Porch Light

You can find a large selection of inexpensive porch lights at any home improvement center. Choose a light with an attractive, classic design that complements the style of your house. A new fixture will make the whole porch look renewed. Make sure to keep the light on each evening, as that’s the time potential buyers often like to drive by for a quick peek at the home’s exterior.

Paint or Replace the Mailbox

If your mailbox is old and ugly, replace it with a new one. Stick with a classic design; this isn’t the time to buy that cute mailbox that looks like a wishing well or a fish. If your box is in good condition, but looking faded, give it a fresh coat of white or black paint to make it look new again.

Replace the House Numbers

You want potential buyers to easily find your home. Buy large, shiny new house numbers, and install them where they are easy to see from the street. Touch up the painted address numbers on the curb in front of your home, also.

Light it Up

If there isn’t lighting along your front walk, invest in a few solar lights that will brighten things up without requiring elaborate installation. Especially in the winter months, buyers might arrive after dusk, and a lit walkway looks inviting and cheerful, as well as safe. You can add one or two solar spotlights under a tree or focal point for an extra touch of drama.

Selling a house can be tough in today’s market. Improving the curb appeal of your home can make the difference between a buyer falling in love with the house, or choosing to drive on by without even having a look inside. Take the time to make quick improvements that deliver big results.

Last Updated: October 10, 2012
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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