Seal the Deal with Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is one of the most important aspects of any real estate transaction. For me, it is the curb appeal that defines everything about my deal. How much will I offer? How much will it take to rehab the property? How does it compare to the surrounding living conditions?

Simply stated,

If the curb appeal is not very good, I know that I can buy the property for a discounted price.

And that’s what my business is all about. Buying distressed homes and then raising the curb appeal through repairs to the property that not only raise curb appeal, but also the value too. Here are several ways that I use to bring up the value of houses to maximize my profit at resale.

Your first step–repainting

The most important thing that I can do to improve curb appeal is to repaint the structure. A fresh new coat of paint adds value right from the start. Remember, first impressions count. This will actually get you a higher appraisal than a house without a new paint job.

You want to do the outside of an investment property first–particularly the front. Getting the most noticeable portion in its best shape first will attract buyers immediately. You can’t get a buyer to see the interior if they are not first pleased with the exterior.

Add a crisp, clean appearance

If the house is just dirty, and the paint is in good shape, then a pressure washer can be used to clean up the exterior siding, gutters, downspouts, deck, fences, and driveway. I even clean my roofs with one. Use the washer to remove any mold and mildew that can be seen on or near the house.

Pull your car in front of your property and take a hard look at what you see. This is going to be what your potential buyer sees, too. If you see something that sticks out to you, fix it. Make sure there are no leaves piled up on the grass.

Once you have disposed of any debris in the yard, make sure the lawn is mowed nicely. A fresh cut yard is a good sign that the rest of the home has been tended to correctly. Get rid of weeds and tools that are cluttering up any areas that can be seen from the street.

Don’t overlook windows or gutters that need to be cleaned. These are simple tasks that do not cost any money to perform, while adding a crisp clean appearance to the home.

You may also want to remove any limbs touching the house or roof. This could scratch paint or cause roof leaks down the road. Another no-cost fix is to use a lawn edger around walkways, driveways and planter areas.

If your house may be looked at near dusk or dark, you want to make sure there is good light available. Add a decorative yard lamp to help the appearance and also add security at the same time.

Some people really like to line the driveway and walkway with little footlights. This adds great character to the house as well as a beautiful soft light shimmering as it leads people to your door.

An inexpensive way to add light would be to add a fixture at your front door either overhead or a wall mounted light. You can afford these on any budget, and the choice of styles is huge.

Landscaping–keep it simple and cheap

Let me mention a few things. Landscape is where some people can make expensive mistakes. Since bushes, trees, and decorative plants can cost thousands in landscape design, you do not want to go overboard–not even on your own home. Keep it simple, and you can keep it cheap too.

Around your mailbox post is a good place for some colorful flowers. You may also have some flower beds near your front entrance. This really looks great and can be done on a budget. Trim all the bushes to the same size and shape if they are in a group. This will make them look uniform as well as fancy.

If I spend the money to plant any decorative trees, I get ones that will look decent all year round. Most of the trees I add are fruit-bearing trees or something that will bloom brilliantly during the year.

On a house this week, we trimmed back bushes that had grown too high and made a very nice design around them using decorative pine straw and wood chips. These items run about $3 a bale for the straw and about $5 a bag for decorative chips. It really dressed up the front of the house, and I am sure will help me sell faster.

Add a few special touches

Just don’t blow your budget that could cost big dollars when for a few hundred, you can dress a yard up nicely. It’s better to do a lot of little, inexpensive things than it is to do one big, expensive thing. Dress up the front door with a nice color of paint that will go well with the house but still add flair. It’s just like dressing up an old suit with a new tie!

Go a little further and add a fancy decorative doorknob and knocker set. Maybe even a brass kick plate. These items don’t cost much but can add drama to the house.

Here is something I saw that was great as I was talking to my neighbor. She had been working on something in her yard for a couple of days, so I wandered over to check it out. She had added a fountain in the front of her home, and it was really pretty.

She and her husband bought a kit for the project for about $300. It had some nice stone structures and rocks that the water went through and they had dug out an area the plastic liner was placed into. As the water trickled down the decorative stonework, the liner fit nicely into the ground and had some varieties of fish swimming in it.

I thought this was a great addition–adding curb appeal and value–and a nice calming effect when sitting on the front porch in a rocker looking over the fountain.

The charm of the front porch decorated with flowers, wind chimes, and candles gave me the idea that I could dress up my houses with this same decor to show buyers feel that they could enjoy the same charm if they bought my house.

Last, but not least

If you have homes that have a lot of children living in the area, as well as possible pet owners, you may want to make sure that if the house has a secure fence.

On the house I have for sale now, we had to repair some areas of the fence. It’s a six-foot tall wooden fence, and we replaced some of the boards that had been knocked down or broken. This adds security to people with kids and pets. It would have been a deal killer for buyers to see the fence run down and tacky.

We just put in a few new boards, sprayed it with bleach to clean it up and then put a good water sealer on it to make it last. We did the same thing to the deck in the back to clean and preserve it. For a little over $100, we made two areas that may have driven a buyer away look new and inviting again.

A few bullet points to remember…

  • Pressure washing is a cheap way to clean up the entire exterior of any property.
  • A fresh coat of paint raises the value and appeal.
  • Do no-cost things like cleaning windows, mowing lawns, raking leaves, weeding, and trimming hedges, bushes, and branches from the house.
  • Light up your home with outside lights and fancy lamps and such.
  • Get landscaping ideas that cost a small amount yet make a huge impact
  • Ponds and fountains make a dramatic statement.
  • Repair fences and decks and use sealers to maintain a good look.
  • Make the place feel like home with front porch swings and rockers.
  • Decorate with flowers and candles and plant fruit bearing trees.

There are hundreds of ways to add curb appeal–use your imagination! Keep in mind that if people don’t like the outside of the house, they will probably never see the inside. You may not realize it, but bad curb appeal could be the main reason a house sits on the market for months.

By CREOnline Contributor

A content contributor to the original