by Brittany Cleeve
Many realtors would agree that curb appeal is just as important, if not more important, than the location of a home. Some buyers simply refuse to even consider touring a home that does not “grab” them at first glance, so standing out among the sea of homes on the internet, newspapers and streets is essential. In this slumped housing market, you cannot afford to neglect curb appeal and its importance when selling your home.
Curb Appeal 101 has taught us seasoned folks of the market that the mailbox is the potential buyer’s first impression of a home. If a buyer sees a wooden mailbox with chipped green paint and weeds taking over the base, the next question in the buyer’s mind is usually something like, “What does the rest of this house look like if they can’t even take care of their mailbox?” Your mailbox should reflect the style that your home evokes. For example, a modern home that has a lot of windows wouldn’t typically have an antique wooden mailbox; you would probably see a geometric metal mailbox with plenty of color. The rule of thumb: your mailbox must “fit” your home.
Now that you know what your mailbox should look like, are you imagining your mailbox and thinking, “My mailbox is so wrong?” Then follow these simple tips to get your mailbox in ship shape! The first step is to make sure that your mailbox is a similar style to your home. If it’s not then it’s time to go to your local home improvement store and ask a sales associate to help you find one. While you’re there, go ahead and pick out some house numbers that work with the style of the mailbox. Once you have the right mailbox, dress it up with some simple landscaping. If you already have the right style mailbox, but it’s looking drab, then clear away any visible weeds or overgrown plants. Before you start the landscaping, make sure you clean off any visible dirt and repaint as you see necessary. Once you have a clean slate to work with, go ahead and pot a couple evergreen plants that are shorter than your mailbox. This is a fantastic way to keep your “first impression” looking great year-round and it’s definitely a low maintenance option. Don’t forget to put your house number on the mailbox at the same time. You can create a miniature garden surrounding the base of your mailbox by planting bright flowers and adding yard art. There you have it-a brand new addition to your front yard or a revamped edition of what you already had!
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The next part of the home that a buyer will see is the doorway. It could simply be a concrete walkway to the door or an elegant stone path that leads to the front porch. Either way, the entrance is a part of your home that every guest will see. So how would you go about sprucing it up? It may seem like a daunting task, but you can either opt for major renovations or a few small additions to the doorway that will change its look entirely. The primary focus of the entrance is the door itself. Your door should match the color scheme of the rest of the house or be a contrasting color that still incorporates the color scheme in some way. A popular trend this year is to antique your door. Whether you plan on buying a new door or sticking with your current one, you can age it by adding a faux finish paint job that makes it look older than it truly is. The final touch to your new door is to upgrade the hardware. Get a new lock and door handle to complete that new antique vibe that you created.
Framing your door with plants and adding symmetry to the doorway are aesthetically pleasing. One way to accomplish this is to put one light fixture on each side of the doorway or put a potted plant on both sides of the door, etc. People find comfort in seeing symmetry; so adding symmetry to your entrance makes it feel more welcoming.
If you’re daring enough, you can transform your doorstep drastically. Painting your doorstep can give your entrance a brand new look. It’s a lot less harsh than plain concrete but doesn’t require a major renovation. You can tile your doorstep on the sides facing away from the house to add contrast with the floor that you just painted. This project will take some time to complete, but it definitely adds value to your home. The tiling and the painting of the doorstep will impress your company for years to come.
Typically, house numbers are displayed on mailboxes, above garage doors and on the front porch. Thinking up a unique, but not too unusual, placement will create visual interest that adds to your curb appeal. For instance, engraving your house number on a large rock is a distinct way to incorporate it into the garden and will definitely grab a potential homebuyer’s attention.
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Major Renovations, Landscaping, Roofing, Windows, Driveway, Porches & Garage Doors
Now that we’ve discussed all the small changes that can be made to your home, let’s get to the nitty-gritty of your major renovations - landscaping, roofing, windows, driveway, porches and garage doors.
Your landscaping should be soft to distinguish itself from the hard edges of your home.
This contrast creates a balance in the overall look of your home. Your landscaping should always be clean and well kept; otherwise your curb appeal may be ruined. It should also be proportional to the house itself; many large trees could overpower a quaint ranch style house and a small garden next to a luxury home would feel imbalanced. Adding containers, or pots, creates focal points in your garden without being too ornamental. Fertilizing, watering and cutting your lawn properly are major components of your landscaping. Dead, yellow and crunchy grass will cause potential buyers to overlook the beauty of your home. Replace or trim any old, overgrown trees and shrubs to avoid your yard from looking unkept. Add garden gates or decorative fencing to enhance the overall look of your garden. Be sure to paint, stain and buy everything to match your current color scheme.
Buying a new roof can be tricky. You need to be sure to match the roofing to your house, your individual needs and to your neighborhood. Of course, you need to match the new roof to the home itself. For example, a bright pink roof with a blue house is tacky, but a gray roof over a blue house looks classy. Do your research because certain types of roofing are superior to others. However, the most important consideration when choosing to install a new roof is the kind of weather that it will need to endure in its lifetime. Finally, you must match your roof with your neighbors’ roofs. If every single home around yours has stucco roofing but you choose shingles, your home will look out of place. Keep your tastes and your surroundings in mind when exploring your roofing options.
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Your next big renovation that may be considered is window replacement and window decorations. New energy efficient ENERGY STAR windows can save you money on your energy bills compared to your old drafty ones. It may also be a priority to buy new windows simply because your current ones don’t match your home’s style. Keep your windows up to date with your home’s style, where features like panes, sashes, casings, and sills need to be considered. Highlight your windows with shutters, paint and flower boxes. This will make your windows look less like a necessity and more like an accessory. You also have the luxury of choosing to use traditional materials or new materials that usually require less maintenance.
Before resorting to installing an entirely new driveway, consider some of these quick fixes that can turn into weekend projects that fit your budget. Repairing cracks as they appear and fixing stains when you find them are all maintenance jobs that should be done on a regular basis so that the overall state of your driveway doesn’t get out of hand. If you find that your driveway isn’t wide enough for your liking, simply add stones, bricks or pavers to the sides and you have a wider driveway without installing a brand new one. If you plan on starting fresh with a new driveway anyway, try your best to make it feel as welcoming as possible. A circular driveway that appears to drop you off at the front door is much more inviting than a straight driveway that only connects you to the garage doors. Making your front door more easily accessible to your guests will make your home much more attractive to a future homebuyer.
Revamping your front porch is just another part of making your front entrance more welcoming and attractive to guests and potential buyers. A front porch is a visual way of inviting someone into your home so it is highly suggested that you build a porch if you don’t already have one. If you already have a porch, check the current state of your columns and railings. More than likely, you haven’t paid much attention to them and they are crying for help. Replace old columns with new ones, but if your columns are 4"x4" or less then replace them with larger ones. Anything 4"x4" or smaller isn’t strong enough to support the porch and larger columns are more attractive. Replace old railings with new, low maintenance ones. Most homes have wood railings, which, while sturdy, have a tendency to quickly deteriorate and rot. Installing new vinyl railings are easier to keep clean and will last much longer. Fixing your porch may come with a hefty price tag, but this investment will give you a huge return.
Finally, your last renovation to be considered is replacing your garage doors. Many homeowners overlook their garage doors unless they need to be repaired or replaced, but garage doors are a large part of the overall look of your home and should look like they belong. Just like a mailbox, your garage doors should fit the style of your house.
Whether you’re looking to make minor changes to your home or go to the extreme to create an entire makeover, curb appeal is worth its expense. It drives up the value of your home and makes it more sellable. Considering each of these ideas will get you started on your home’s curb appeal overhaul but challenge yourself during these projects to get inspired to come up with your own plans. Explore the rest of the Resource Center to find other project ideas and quick tips.
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