Most of us have heard the term, and I’m pretty sure we all know what it is. There’s some mystery on how to increase it. And many believe it costs money to up it. So let’s examine the question. What is curb appeal, and how do we increase it on a budget? So to put it simply, curb appeal is literally how appealing your home is when looking at it from the street. Stand on your curb, face the house, and take 5 steps back. (disclaimer, watch out for traffic) Do you like what you see? Now the question is, what do we do about it?
Curb Appeal – Make a good first impression!
We’ve all received that advice at some point, and your house is no different. The National Association of Realtors say that 63% of buyers will physically check out a home they see on the internet. Relying on Photoshop to increase colour, lighting, and cleaning up isn’t enough. While taking the picture for the websites is important, it’s equally important to make sure it looks good in person. How neat and tidy is the front? Is the house lit and inviting? Are the sidewalks and driveways clean? Let’s get to increasing that curb appeal!
Start on the curb.
When you are taking pictures for the web, make sure you get a good base picture. Most of us know how to play with filters and do some basic photo editing. But the most important thing any graphic designer will tell you is that you can only do so much with a bad photo. The best way to get the most colour, the best light levels, and the most detail is to make sure you don’t have too much light. So when you take the picture of your home, do it when it’s slightly overcast. The sun washes out what the camera sees. This includes indoors, you’ll have the most even lighting on an overcast day. And it goes without saying, wait until you get all your curb appeal upgrades done BEFORE you snap that photo.
Pressure wash your sidewalks, decks, driveways, and even siding. Pressure washers are usually pretty cheap to rent, and there’s a good chance that someone in your neighborhood has one you can borrow. Just make sure you don’t use the jet stream setting. You want it gentle enough to not damage or chip away anything, but enough pressure to remove dirt and grime. Hit all your horizontal surfaces to remove things that have settled over time. And even hit your siding to get rid of any stains that have dulled the colour over the years. We often don’t notice this discolouration because it takes place gradually. But once you pressure wash you’ll notice the side of your house looks like new.
If your HOA or municipality allows it, upgrade your mailbox (or at least clean it up). Stick with something that doesn’t clash with the neighborhood, but still has a distinction that makes it obvious it’s accompanying your home. You’ll want a matching style to your house, and try to tie in some colours (say your front door and shutters). Remember to check your local ordinances, laws, and rules before doing this.
Move up to the porch.
Paint the front door, trim, and shutters. You’ll want to make sure the trim is a simple colour that’s just there to set lines and divide features. You don’t want it to be something that draws too much attention. But you also want it to pop just enough to not make the front of your house just look like a wall of brick. For the doors and trim, pick something that compliments the cladding on your home. But make it distinct and have it stand out. These are highlights to how open the home is to light and the outside world. Not to mention the door is what your potential buyers are going to be standing in front of for a good minute while the real estate agent let’s them in to view the house.
Clean up your house numbers. You’ll want to make sure people can easily find and identify your home. Choose numbers that stand out from the background of the house. But try to keep it simple. Remember that those numbers are how they will find you, so it’s something they are paying very special attention to. Make them set the tone and character for the home right from the start.
Trim up the shrubs and trees. You can find great looking small trees for your landscaping for $40 or less at Home Depot or Lowes. Find something that adds a natural splash of green against the home. If your home is green, there’s plenty of reds, oranges, and purples out there to set it off nicely. Keep the shrubs trimmed and clean out the mulch. You don’t want grass clippings or leaves all over your mulch breaking up the clean look of the front of the home. If you have something dying, replacing the dead plant may be your best option.
Now make it inviting!
Lights, you can’t say enough about lights. Make sure ALL your outside lights are replaced. It’s a good idea to replace them all at once (even if they don’t need it) to make sure you don’t have anything sitting dimmer than the rest. A nice even lighting will help accent the home and make it more inviting. Not to mention give the feeling of safety. Use the same bulbs and brand if you can, try to eliminate any variation if possible. We are going for EVEN.
Make sure your front rooms are neat and tidy. Even if people are not coming in, keep it clean inside. During the day and up until bedtime keep the blinds and shutters open. When people come buy, it makes the house feel more like a home. People can picture themselves in a clean front room looking out into the neighborhood. You want them to feel like they are already in the home. So don’t close it off, make it inviting. Plus, it’ll make the inside look and feel much larger because the yard becomes part of the living area.
One last note:
Something people seem to forget about all year long. CLEAN YOUR GUTTERS! Make sure you go around and clean them out. While you are at it, check your downspouts. It’s not uncommon for water to wash away these areas. You may need to redirect some water for a bit to plant some grass seed, add some soil to a dip that’s formed, or replace mulch that’s been washed away.