While everyone may define curb appeal differently, it’s more about the “feeling” you get when you first see the home. Subconsciously, it may remind you of a favourite childhood retreat, or maybe your favourite flowers line the walkway to the front door, or perhaps the architectural style and colours are engaging. Even if you can’t quite define why, the home’s curb appeal makes you feel comfortable and draws you in.
Now that you’ve got a plan to sell your home, improving its curb appeal will make your home stand out from the competition, help it sell faster, and increase its value.
What are the best reno projects for improving curb appeal?
There are a few things that will determine what you should tackle first:
- How long do you have to prepare?
- How much work is needed?
- How much do you want to spend?
- How is your home priced compared to others in the neighbourhood?
The Curb Appeal Essentials
With more and more potential home buyers starting their search online, it’s more important than ever to put your best foot forward. Often, your home will get exposure through a small real estate feature ad highlighted by a price. Make sure yours is the home a potential buyer clicks on to see more. By creating a great first impression, your appointment schedule should fill up fast.
It may seem like common sense, but the best place to start with exterior home improvement is by taking care of all maintenance and repair jobs.
It’s critical that potential buyers are greeted by a well-manicured lawn, trimmed shrubs, and weed-free flowerbeds. Make sure you repair or replace burned-out light bulbs, broken doorbells and door handles, and damaged trim. Wash your windows, inside and out, hose down siding, and polish up door handles and kick plates.
Taking the Curb Appeal to the Next Level
If you have a little more time to do some improvements before placing your home on the market, step out to the curb and really look at your property. Pay close attention to those things that enhance the home as well as those things that create a negative impression.
Put yourself in your potential buyer’s perspective. What do you notice first? Second? Are there eyesores that detract from the overall appearance? If you’re thinking those projects will cost too much to repair, just imagine how potential customers will react if you don’t take care of them.
The risks? Potential buyers may feel there are other issues if key structural components are in disrepair. You may end up giving away significant money in a sale negotiation or the prospect may never get past the front door.
The benefits? Many structural improvements provide tremendous value to new homebuyers. Before you invest significant dollars into a major project, it’s important to do your research. Many factors go into determining ROI, such as location, price point, age of home, and features included in other neighbouring homes.
These reno projects have a proven track record for excellent payback and should be seriously considered even if they’re a little expensive or may require a contractor:
- Roof—Loose, cupping, missing or worn shingles not only look bad, these issues might also signal a problem with leaks. A new roof with a 30-year warranty will provide a huge bonus to potential buyers— one they’re willing to pay for, so you’ll be able to ask more. According to Globe and Mail, installing a new roof can add between 10 and 40 percent to the price of the house. Many lenders require major roof repairs be completed before closing on a sale, so if yours needs work, definitely plan on doing the job before listing it.
- Painting—There’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint to freshen up a dingy house. Paint doors, shutters and trim boards that contrasts the main siding colour. Help your single-story home stand out by emphasizing vertical features. Or make your narrow two-story home look bigger by painting it a light colour. Don’t be afraid to add a bright hue to your front door to create a welcoming focal point. ROI is between 50 and 100 percent.
- Front Door—If your main entrance can’t be improved with a paint makeover, you’ll definitely want to consider replacing it. Choose a fibreglass design and recoup 82 percent of the cost or choose a steel door for even more ROI at 91 percent. Add one or two sidelites to enhance the front of your home and expect more potential buyers to schedule a tour.
- Gutters and downspouts—Rusty, leaky or damaged gutters and downspouts create a negative impression that can easily be rectified. A variety of styles are available including seamless, clip attachment, profile styling, and they all come in colours to match your trim.
- Driveways and walkways—Unsightly driveways and walkways will be a bigger turnoff than anything else, so you’ll want to make improvements. An asphalt driveway can be repaired for a portion of the cost to replace it. Cracks can be filled and a layer of new material placed on top. However, concrete driveways and walkways that are broken or crumbling should be replaced. Not only are they an eyesore, they also can be a safety hazard. A coloured concrete stain or install pavers along the edge of the walkway can also provide a beautiful finish to your main entrance.
- Exterior lighting—This can be a relatively inexpensive way to give your home an exterior makeover and add safety features at the same time. Choose building fixtures that complement the architectural details of your home. Invest in landscape lighting to provide a beautiful nighttime glow to trees and bushes. Only select a warm white light to guide the way instead of blind your neighbours. Outdoor lighting can generate a 50 percent ROI as well as protect your friends and family from falls and intruders.
- Porch—Your concrete porch may look warn or cracked. Create a great new look with tiles, flagstone or paint. What better way to install a permanent welcome mat? Upgrade wood railings to maintenance-free composite for a clean, attractive design.
Then, you can do these renos for even greater impact:
Raise the Bar on Curb Appeal
If you’re the overachiever type, there are even more ways to bring your home to an unparalleled level of excellence. Remember to do your due diligence in researching home prices in your area. Your home improvements should maximize your earning potential, so be sure your asking price doesn’t exceed the market values of the neighbourhood.
- Landscaping—Done right, this reno project can bring in a whopping 258 percent return on investment! With a good portion of potential buyers using the internet to find their next home, the streetscape view of your home should inspire buyers to do a drive-by. Hire a landscape architect to devise a plan that will fit with your yard’s size, budget and climate zone. Try to balance flowering plants so blooms appear all year long. Be sure to add weed barrier and mulch or decorative stone to keep weeds in check. Beautiful landscaping with easy upkeep will be a best seller.
- Stone Veneer—Stone front facades are making a comeback. To reduce the costs and challenges associated with incorporating stone into your home, new stone veneers have been introduced. Natural stone veneers come in a variety of colours and patterns and can be used as accents for the front of your home, to hide an unsightly concrete foundation, or augment column footings.
- Windows—You may not know, but windows are a huge selling point for most buyers. While you don’t have to install top-of-the-line products, you’ll want to invest in energy-efficient, beautifully styled replacement windows. Check with a window expert to discuss the most cost-effective options.
- Deck/Patio—Depending on the location of your home relative to the property, visitors who enter through the front door may not see a backyard deck or patio. If your home can be viewed through a side street or corner, adding a backyard retreat will be a big selling point.
- Pergola—If your home doesn’t already have a covered front porch, adding a shade pergola will provide the perfect space for relaxation and family time. Not only will potential buyers stop and look, they’ll likely want to give it a trial run.
- Fence—Who doesn’t love the look of a vintage-styled white picket fence or savour a little privacy with a decorative barrier from the next door neighbours? There’s no need to surround the entire property with a budget-busting board-on-board or composite fencing. Adding a few deliberately placed sections will give you the extra curb appeal without the extra cost.
- Driveway—As the first thing people will see, your concrete driveway must give the right first impression. Repair cracks and stains,. then spray weed killer on any stray vegetation. Improve the aesthetics with concrete stain or by covering with flagstones. Add a perimeter of pavers to widen it and add a decorative edge.
What appeals to one person is not necessarily what appeals to another, so when you try to fascinate and entice the perfect buyer, recognize it will be no easy task. Improving curb appeal is all about balance. While you’re main goal should be to attract the right buyer at the right price, every dollar you spend should be done with purpose and make good financial sense. So before you tackle this entire list of enhancements, remember to stand at the curb and look at your home through new eyes. You just might be surprised at how appealing it already is.