House with Green Lawn and Trimmed Hedges

Repair, replace, and clean! These are the three basic principles of improving curb appeal, and they’re essential if you want to sell your home quickly. Why? Because you only get one chance to make a good first impression, and curb appeal can influence a potential homebuyer’s decision to schedule a viewing or go elsewhere.

According to the National Association of Realtors®, improving your home’s curb appeal by replacing the front door, siding, and windows can recover “more than 78 percent of costs upon resale.” That’s a considerable amount!

You may be thinking to yourself, “But I’m not an expert in home repair. I don’t know how to replace siding.” That’s okay. The average homeowner doesn’t either. In short, you can dramatically improve your curb appeal with a few simple do-it-yourself (DIY) improvements, so you probably don’t need to dip into your savings or hire an expensive contractor.

But before you start slapping paint on everything in sight, put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and take a walk around your home. Does anything look bad or out of place? What about when you drive by the house? Over time, many homeowners become so used to seeing the imperfections around their place that they don’t even notice them, but these can stick out like a sore thumb to a homebuyer. So what are some things you can do?

Here are six ways to improve your home’s curb appeal:

1. Tidy Up the Yard

Creating space is one of the simplest things you can do to your yard to improve curb appeal. Remove unsightly debris piles such as broken tree branches, scrap wood, and anything else that may distract from the home. Also, be sure to stow away lawn tractors and other equipment so they don’t clutter your yard. If you have a lot of overgrowth, it’s a good idea to prune trees, pull weeds, mow the grass, and edge the yard. It may seem like a lot of work, but most of these projects can be done in an afternoon, and they can have a dramatic effect on curb appeal.

2. Clean the Exterior of the House

Few things look more unattractive to a potential homebuyer than a dirty house, but a little exterior cleaning can make your home shine like new again. Use a pressure-washer to clean patios, porch areas, and any other areas where dirt can accumulate. If you pressure-wash the house, make sure you use a lower setting so you don’t strip away the house paint. Don’t forget to wash the windows (inside and out) and to remove cobwebs from under awnings. For many homebuyers, curb appeal is all about perception—in other words, if the house looks good from the outside, then logic says it will look good on the inside too.

3. Add Color

Garden tools, potted plant, and paintAdding colorful plants to your yard is a quick way to bring new life (literally) to your yard—plus it’s cheap. Buy some container flowers, hang planter baskets, or install a plant bed with a layer of mulch—you’ll be amazed at how much color this can bring to your yard. Your lawn is another important part of curb appeal, so it’s a good idea to water and fertilize your grass regularly. You can buy a soil test kit at your local hardware store for less than $20 to ensure that the pH levels of your lawn are balanced for optimal health.

4. Paint & Stain

Fresh paint can restore any house no matter how old and run-down it may look. Start by painting the front door—this is the focal point of your curb appeal—then touch up the siding, trim, fences, and shutters. If you have a wood porch or patio, add a few coats of stain for a more vibrant finish that makes your home shine.

5. Update Fixtures & Hardware

Updating the lawn fixtures and external hardware is another important part of enhancing your curb appeal. This can include buying a new mailbox, replacing a cracked walkway, updating the house numbers (make sure they’re visible from the street), and installing new door handles. You can also boost your curb appeal with outdoor lighting, fences, arches, and birdbaths—but nothing too flashy. Remember, not everyone is in to Victorian gargoyles and skull-shaped doorknockers, so make sure your updates are contemporary.

6. Clear Out Gutters & Downspouts—Check Roof

Broken gutters and downspouts can be quite an eyesore, not to mention a detriment to your curb appeal. If you live an area with trees, it’s a good idea to check your gutters for damage or clogged downspouts from fallen tree limbs. This is also a great time to inspect the roof. Are there toys and debris that can be taken down? Make note of any damage or missing roof shingles, and contact a professional if you think the roof may need to be replaced.

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