Whether your family needs a bigger house or you scored a sweet new job and have to move or just crave a change of some sort, deciding to sell your house is a big decision. But preparing your house for the big sale can be a time-consuming and frustrating experience. If you want top dollar for your humble abode, you’ve got to spend hours inside and out, refreshing and updating the thing from top to bottom. (And yes, that means dropping some dough on any needed repairs, whether some rotten siding or a whole new HVAC system.)
But the main draw to buyers when first laying eyes on your soon-to-be-sold home is the “curb appeal,” or, to put a definition to this industry parlance, how it looks from the street. If you can draw potential buyers in with that first glance, you’re far more likely to convert them into proud new owners. Sprucing up the outside of your house and transforming it into an über-attractive abode is eminently doable. Just spend a few weekends putting a bit more sweat equity into your house and it should make it off the market in no time. And who knows: with all of the new gorgeous upgrades, you may just want to keep it after all.
Trim your shrubs.
One of the most common curb appeal killers, and easiest fixes, is to simply give those tall and window-obscuring shrubs and bushes out front a nice flat-top trim. Letting prospective buyers see the full front of the house with windows and all will go a long way toward unloading your house quickly.
Put out planters.
On the other hand, if the front of your home looks more like a barren wasteland than an overgrown jungle, adding some greenery will help the home pop and look more inviting. Buy some big planters and fill them with tall evergreen bushes like boxwoods, juniper, or Hicks Yew.
Plan on pressure washing.
Grime and mold and algae that you probably don’t even notice are surely covering the outside of your home, so if you don’t want to paint, or commit the funds to a whole house refresh, rent or borrow a pressure washer. These powerful little cleaning buddies will quickly remove dirt from siding and clean up driveways, walkways, patios, and decks so they look like new.
Add color to the front door.
The main portal to your home, the front door can be a powerful symbol to the potential new homeowner, so take some time to choose a bold and interesting color to make it pop and attract maximum attention. Don’t be afraid to go a little nuts and choose something ultra colorful and shocking, especially if the rest of your house is a bland or boring color, the contrast will pay off!
Redo your walkway.
If the main walkway up to your house is a boring series of concrete slabs or is broken, cracked or otherwise rundown looking, you can easily create a new one for not much money. Cool flat flagstones can be attached to good, but bland, concrete or try laying out your own brand new walkway, just ask a home improvement store for tips.
Paint the house.
Though not quite a simple task, unless you have some extra money in your curb appeal budget to pay professional painters, going back over your house with new paint can make it look, well like new! And if you do have the money, it’s as easy as writing out a check or running a credit card.
Upgrade your front porch light.
Still hanging on to that cobwebbed chintzy chandelier from the ’90s as your porch light, or rocking some rundown brass sconces on either side of your door? Time to peruse the local light shop and pick out some new, modern fixtures that will give your entrance a little more pizazz and appeal. Or head to a vintage store to pick up something with rustic, ornate detailing. (This works especially well if you have a brick-walled home.)
Don’t be afraid to go bold.
When thinking of an overall plan to attack the outside of your home, whether painting trim, adding flowers boxes, or landscaping the yard, don’t be shy and go for some pops of color and other interesting architectural flourishes that will make your home stand out and be more noticeable from the street.
Add a seasonal wreath.
No matter the time of year, but especially around the holidays, it’s nice to give your abode a more homey feel by adding a well-chosen wreath for the door. Grapevine wreaths are a good choice for fall, and of course, one made from pine branches will be a hit for the winter season. Go for something fresh and green for spring and summer like eucalyptus, olive branches, and lavender.
Make your porch bigger.
Some simple construction to your porch can increase the livable outdoor space and make a big impression on prospective buyers as the walk up to the house. Adding on to porches isn’t as big of a deal as other major construction like a new roof or addition, and if you have the budget, can seriously up curb appeal.
Consider adding a new fence.
If your house is surrounded by a rusty chain-link fence or an old and rotting wooden fence, this is the time to replace or repair it. For the chain link fence, it’s fine to keep around the back but change up the street-facing portion to a nice new white picket fence for maximum awws from interested future homeowners.
Add porch seating.
Putting some solid rockers or modern metal chairs on your front porch is a great way to indicate to new buyers that your neighborhood is friendly and social. Plus, the inviting seats may just serve as a respite for them after they’ve toured your home and need a few minutes to talk about submitting their offer!
If you’ve still got aluminum siding swaddling your home, it’s probably time to strip that eyesore off and go with something more modern and soft-looking—and less expensive—like a fiber-cement mix like HardiePlank or MaxiTile. It will look a lot sharper, last just as long, and it comes in different textures for a classic look.
Consider window boxes.
Making (or buying) some window boxes to throw up below your windows is a quick and easy weekend project that will considerably gussy up the front of your house. Plant some colorful and seasonal flowers and other plants in them and your curb appeal will shoot up overnight.
Make the entryway welcoming.
Part and parcel of increasing curb appeal is making sure as interested parties walk up to your home, the entryway is clean, fresh, and welcoming. Along with new paint on the door, new fixtures, and updated hardware, you can add new plants and flowers to give dimension and drama to your house’s portal, or even put up a porch swing!
Clean your roof.
Ideally, if your roof is getting on in age you should replace it before selling, but that can be a costly upgrade. If it’s still in good shape though and has a few years left, a thorough cleaning can make it look new, removing stains from trees and algae.
Hide a cinder block foundation.
If your house was built on cinder block foundation and it’s obvious from the street, you can paint it a neutral color to reduce its impact, or attach panels that are easily installed and look like stone, river rock, or other more attractive materials than plain cinder block.
Putting up some shutters can give the front of your home some dimension and add significantly to its curb appeal. Don’t be afraid to paint them a cool, contrasting color to make them—and thus your home—stand out to potential buyers.
Research the latest trends in hardware design and then replace all of your front door hardware to give the entryway a modern and clean look. The solid feel and fresh look of a new door handle, deadbolt, knocker, and even a doorbell will make buyers feel more welcome.
Think about symmetry.
Pleasing design choices are welcoming to the eye, chief among them symmetry. Take a step out to your street and take a good look at your house. What can you move or redesign? What can you add or update that will give the front of your home a balanced and attractive look?
Highlight architectural details.
Older homes in particular may have some intersecting and eye-catching architectural details that have been hidden by paint or overgrown shrubbery, so seek out anything structural that you can emphasize that could catch a new homeowner’s eye, like gables or pediments.
Light up the outside.
Adding lighting to the outside of your home is easier than ever with handsome LED options that run off of solar power, so you don’t need to spend time or money-digging trenches and hooking up wires. Go for string lights around the top of the porch, post lights you can use to highlight walkways and natural areas, or even a security light or two to make buyers feel safe.
Install a container garden.
Fresh landscaping details always attract the eye of potential purchasers, and nothing says fertile and fecund like an array of container gardens full of seasonal produce and eye-popping flowers. Just make sure they don’t dominate the front of the house and add more interest off to the side or near natural areas.
Get a new front door
Sure you can just paint the front door and add new hardware to spruce it up for potential home purchasers, but why not update the whole look of the front of your house with a new door? You can totally change the feel of your home with a well-thought-out, architectural door that stuns new homeowners.
Give your mailbox some attention.
A tired old mailbox that looks like everyone else’s on the block—or a battered war horse from the ’60s—can easily be upgraded to a new and sleek version that may not be a key part of curb appeal, but will still add to a fresh look for the front of your on-sale home.
Put in outdoor art.
Some tastefully selected outdoor art can add a bit of whimsy and humor to your yard, but choose judiciously and don’t go overboard with a bunch of glittery globes or clattering windmills. Look for something more modern and understated—like a copper birdbath or cast iron bench—and add to an inconspicuous spot.
If you add new and eye-catching items to the front of your home, make sure you don’t add too much. Take away anything old and crusty and broken that’s already in your yard or on your porch. Update and delete at the same time to transform the home into an indubitably desirable must-buy.
Clean your gutters.
Worn and clogged gutters won’t impress any prospective home buyers, so give them a thorough cleaning and power wash the outside free of years of built-up dirt and debris. If they are looking sad and saggy though, consider a full replacement to really sharpen up the lines of your soon to be sold home.
Repair the driveway.
When potential buyers roll up to your home on a drab, cracked, and weed-filled driveway, that’s just one more thing on the list for them to worry about. You don’t want to tamp down enthusiasm off the bat, so make sure to spruce up the driveway by pulling weeds, filling cracks, and power washing the whole thing.
Put tile on the porches.
A plain concrete slab for your porch is fine and can just be power washed to make it sparkle, but to really draw new buyers in, consider laying new tile over it. A fairly simple job, you can choose from a whole array of interesting and textural tiles that will add the final, stunning touch to the entryway.
Clean the windows.
Another great weekend project that doesn’t seem like it would do much for enticing potential buyers, but once you see the difference between a dirty, dingy window that hazily lets in light compared to a crystal clear one that allows all of the bright light in, you’ll be sold too.
Fix and paint fence.
The proverbial white picket fence that so many people pine for may already be highlighting the front of your house, but if it’s sagging, rotting and peeling, the dream will be ruined. Replace old boards that are warped or rotted and then give the whole thing a blindingly bright coat of white paint to lure in aspirational buyers.
Maintain your lawn.
Keeping up with the lawn is something most homeowners love or hate, but if you’re about to put your home up for sale, you need to keep on top of maintenance like never before. A neatly trimmed lawn with well-kept bushes and shrubs just screams “buy me!” to new homeowners that may be on the fence.
Put a border along the driveway.
Along with cleaning and fixing your driveway, if you have the time and extra funds, consider adding in a defining border of stone blocks or brick pavers along the edge. This simple trick will make it look more upscale and give the driveway its own personality, upping buyer’s interest in the whole package.
Go crazy with flowers.
Everyone loves a spray of fresh flowers, so be sure to plant seasonal flowers around the front of the house as well as have some planters on the porch full of the beautiful blooms. Just be sure to tend to them (and water them!) on the regular; nothing’s more depressing than a pot of dead flowers twirling in the wind.
Upgrade garage doors.
For the budget conscious who’d like to spruce up their garage doors, you can simply add some new hardware like faux hinges and handles. But to make the biggest impact (and if your door is old and saggy) go for a whole new door with cool architectural details that better compliment your home’s exterior.
Add new mulch/bark.
When adding new landscaping don’t forget to lay down some fresh mulch or pine bark to the natural areas to cover up and kill weeds along with giving the whole yard a finished feel. The ground covering will also promote healthier soil so the new owners will have lush landscaping long past the move-in date.
Upgrade your house number.
Pull of any old and lame house numbers that have an outdated and old-fashioned typeface and go for something sleek and modern. Also consider moving the placement of the numbers to somewhere more prominent like on a column, to make them more a part of the whole design theme of your home.
Hide unsightly items.
Go out again to the street and take a long look at the front of your home. Can you see the AC unit peaking out? Is the junction box sticking out like a sore thumb on the side of the house? Is your garden hose a jumbled mess on the ground? Take steps to hide these unsightly eyesores like planting bushes in front of the AC, painting the junction box the same color as the house and putting the hose in a decorative container.
Get a new doormat.
The moment before your potential home buyers come up to your new and freshly painted door, they will look down as they step over your door sill. Don’t destroy all of your hard work on the outside of your home and leave a ratty and ragged doormat. Be sure to get a fresh and classic mat made of sisal, seagrass, or coir.