“Curb appeal” is a term thrown around a lot in real estate investing as well as on various home and garden channels. When you’re trying to sell a home and have a limited budget for improvements being listing, you might wonder just how necessary they are.
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Exterior improvements are one of the most important things—if not the most important thing—that you can do to encourage a sale and maximize your profit. These improvements see the greatest return on your investment and coax a potential buyer into stopping and checking out the property. After all, who would even stop in front of a home that looks like a disaster on the outside? Most buyers will assume that the interior will be even worse, and move on to the next home.
Luckily, there are essential exterior improvements, which you need to fix before selling, and optional, “nice to have” improvements that can only increase your home’s curb appeal and selling price. We’ve put together a list of essential and optional improvements so that you can budget for success.
Essential exterior improvements
New or repaired roofing
Roofing is the single most essential improvement you can make. Few buyers will be interested in a home with a damaged, leaky roof. If you have to entirely replace the roof, you can expect a nearly 70% return on your investment, but if you’ve been keeping up with roof maintenance, taking care of any minor repairs will go a long way toward making your house look like someone’s dream home.
If your siding is cracked, peeling or otherwise damaged, you may want to replace it entirely. Fibre cement siding is a popular choice that will increase your home’s value. It’s insect and fire-resistant and will help save money on utility bills—all music to a buyer’s ears. If your siding is newer, simply power wash it to remove dirt and other debris. When changing the colour of your home, opt for warm, inviting colours. For example, taupe is a very popular neutral for exteriors.
How’s the condition of your driveway? Paved driveways are essential to curb appeal, and if yours is cracked, broken or oil-stained, it might be time to replace or repaint it. If you don’t have a paved driveway, consider installing one. It makes the home look more finished.
It’s not essential to completely overhaul your landscaping, but it does need to be neat and tidy. There’s no sense in making other essential improvements and have a front yard that looks like a wreck. Mow the lawn, prune your trees and bushes and make sure to remove dead flowers as soon as they’re past their prime. If your yard looks a little bare, you can always plant flowers and add new layers of mulch to fill the space and make it look intentional.
Optional exterior improvements
New windows won’t just save on utility costs—they also improve your home’s value and offer up to a 90% ROI. Choose energy-efficient wood or vinyl windows to maximize your investment. Buyers tend to expect new windows, especially in older homes, so they can be a great selling point in your listing.
A great front door
A new front door offers a 102% ROI and can go a long way toward updating the look of your home. However, you don’t necessarily need to buy a new one. Repainting the existing door in an eye-catching colour, such as cherry red, canary yellow or royal blue will make it stand out in the neighbourhood and photographs. You can also switch out the handles or knobs for a more modern look.
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A front porch
Do you have a front porch already? Make sure it’s clean from top to bottom, and consider putting out some cozy porch furniture to set the stage. Front porches are particularly appealing to buyers, as it’s the first chance they get to picture themselves in your home. If you don’t have a front porch and want to maximize the usable space on your property, consider building one that fits in with your home’s existing architecture. They’re not essential improvements, but porches tend to be popular with buyers. Who doesn’t want to sit out in good weather with a glass of lemonade and a good book?
New garage door
Your garage door makes up a good deal of visual space from the outside of your home, so make sure that it’s freshly painted and in good working order. Replace it if it’s old, dented or the mechanisms are malfunctioning. If your door is in good working condition but is missing that “wow” factor, consider painting it in an eye-catching colour to draw the eye.
Your exterior lighting can make a big difference, and it doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg. Swap out old porch lights with new fixtures to complement your front door handles. Is your home completely dark at night? Interested buyers will drive around the neighbourhood at night, and if your home doesn’t have some illumination, you’re missing out on the chance to woo them. Adding garden lights can highlight your landscaping, and adds a cozy, homey look to the property. Of course, it should go without saying, but unless it’s December, take the holiday lights down.
Remember, increasing curb appeal is all about making your home look like somewhere a buyer would want to live. Roofs with missing shingles, broken cement driveways, rotting siding and overgrown yards aren’t just ugly and unappealing, they’re a physical manifestation of a “to-do” list for the buyer. Not only will they start on the wrong foot, but they’re also bound to be even more critical if they make it inside. By focusing on these improvements, you can increase your home value and make sure that it sells.
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