Talk to any residential real estate agent, and he’ll confirm the importance of curb appeal to the value of a home.
Research shows that first impressions are hugely impactful on how we perceive people, places and things, and that’s why savvy homeowners pay close attention to the visual impact of their front-yard landscaping and front-facing exterior. Great design combined with scrupulous maintenance can make an enormous difference in the overall appeal of your home as it’s viewed from the street, and investments in that regard can pay off. Of course, optimal appeal is even more important if you’re putting your house on the market.
John Gidding of the HGTV reality show “Curb Appeal” recently pointed to the common wisdom that better curb appeal boosts the value of your home by some 150 percent.
“To me that is conservative,” he noted in a recent Washington Post article. "On a ‘Curb Appeal’ project, I put in $20,000 and the sellers got $200,000 more than they had paid for the house just a year prior. (But) it depends on if you are investing your money well. The best strategy is to research the architectural style of your home and create a landscaping plan that matches.”
Consider how these other suggestions may also help you plan curb appeal solutions:
- In general, real estate specialists recommend investing 10 percent of your home’s value into landscaping.
- Look at your yard and facade with an objective eye and put together a plan for what should be removed, rearranged and added. The design may not flow because too much or too little has been incorporated through the years. If you lack an artistic eye, ask a friend with better aesthetic ability to map out recommended changes.
- Consider adding color via annuals, perennials and/or flowering shrubs, then defining their beds using edging and decorative mulch or stones.
- Potted plants and flowers can be placed along porches, stoops, sidewalks and anywhere else they’re needed for visual impact.
- New trees could add much-needed vertical balance to your landscape design, and when strategically located, they can even lower your heating and cooling costs.
- With the ease and convenience of today’s leaf blowers, there’s no reason to let fallen leaves take over your yard, suggesting to a passersby you’re indifferent to your yard’s appearance. Gather ‘em into bags and leave them curbside if you have pick-up service, or transport them to a composting facility.
- A lush, green lawn adds a lot of visual bang for the buck. Aim to keep it weed free and well fed, watered and trimmed.
- Landscape lighting can add a comforting and attractive nighttime glow, and solar lights can be inexpensive and easy to implement without calling for complex wiring. One caveat: Avoid lightweight, cheap-looking plastic fixtures that appear easily broken.
- Evaluate whether the facade of your house, or maybe just the trim, needs a new paint job. You might start with a power wash to gauge whether removal of a grime layer will brighten it up; power washer rentals can be found for less than $50 a day.
- Another option is adding new shutters or trim to the front of your home. Be sure your choices fit the home's architectural style, whether that’s Craftsman, colonial or French country.
- Consider painting your front door in an eye-catching accent color and perhaps adding new house numbers to your facade. “The goal here is to go bold without being obnoxious,” states a recent article on BobVila.com. “If you can strike that balance, then you’re working some serious curb appeal.”
- Might a new garage door give your whole house an updated new appearance? Today’s options include a multitude of color, texture and window options; Houselogic.com places the cost of two new doors at $2,300 and suggests they could add about $2,000 to your home's value.
- Upgrade that rusty 1970s-era mailbox with a newer, cleaner model made of wood, recycled plastic or some other guaranteed-not-to-rust material. A spiffy new one can cost as little as $20 and require less than an hour to install.
- Improve the look of a weathered driveway by filling cracks with asphalt and coating the surface with a blacktop refinishing compound. Another option is visually defining it using a border of concrete or paving stones.
One word of caution: In rare instances, adding too much finery to your landscaping can backfire. For example, planting high-maintenance flowers may turn off potential buyers who aren’t interested in yard work.
“Very extensive landscaping, while loved and valued by fellow gardeners, can be seen as a negative," confirms real estate broker Cindy Moses in the Washington Post. “That prize rose garden can be seen as a thorny problem by those lacking green thumbs.”