I live in a neighborhood that was developed in the 60’s and 70’s in Central Florida. Housing prices are currently running $160,000 – $200,000 on houses that have between 1300 and 1500 square feet of living space. However, one of our neighbors has a $375,000 price tag on his house and most of us give it a weird look when we pass by. It’s just not much to look at on the outside and the owner can do himself a big favor by improving curb appeal.
In reality, he’s done a fantastic job with the interior of his home. However, your first impression comes as soon as you pull up. Even if he gets potential buyers in the door, there’s the issue that the visual appeal of the exterior doesn’t match the quality of the interior.
If you’re selling your home, adding curb appeal can increase your home value 3% – 5% according to Consumer Reports. If you’re a developer, you can boost the value of an entire neighborhood with proper curb appeal planning on the front end.
We’ve come up with some ways you can go about improving curb appeal on your home or development to add more value.
Improving Curb Appeal
We’re in the process of building a new home and the model we chose comes in three elevations. The difference between the two basic is really just some roof design – something you can’t change once the house is built, obviously. The third (which is what we went with), adds HardieBoard siding to the front wall and gable along with stonework on the column bases and garage corners. The total upgrade fee: $1500. A look at the models side by side easily shows how much the planking and stone adds to the curb appeal.
If you’re a homebuilder, consider at least offering this kind of feature as an upgrade, if not a standard feature.
Like the look? These models are available in the Lakeland, FL area from Highland Homes.
Here are a few other ideas:
- New roof/shingles: This is an expensive option, but if it’s time for a replacement, it will show up in an appraisal. Better to do the work before the sale and match an attractive shingle color to the house color.
- Fresh paint: Whether you do it yourself or hire it out, you can completely change the look of the house (for better or worse) with new paint.
- Shutters: Shutters can be functional or not, but they add texture and possibly another color to your home’s exterior.
When people see a lawn that’s well-maintained and with well-thought-out landscaping, they assume you take care of the rest of your house as well.
In the neighborhood we’re moving into, the landscaping is attractive but minimal and the HOA stays on top of lawn maintenance. It creates the look of a community that cares about the first impression you get, but they could take it further.
The minimal landscaping that comes with the home probably only needs $1000 – $1500 worth of work to match the model homes at the sales office. As a developer, the community-wide difference makes the whole neighborhood look like it’s that much more classy. It’s a cost you can easily pass on to the buyer and boosts the value of everyone’s home.
Even if you’re not under the watchful eye of an HOA, keep up with your lawn care. Mowing it once a week until the mowing season is over will keep it looking its best. If you want to take it to the next level, check into a robotic mower. These mow every day and you can set them on a schedule. Your yard will look freshly cut every day without any effort on your part.
Here are a few more tips:
- Trim the hedges every month to help keep their shape
- Trim trees so the lowest limbs are above your head. This gives them the classic look of a full top with plenty of room to enjoy the shade beneath it.
- If you’re not already doing it, edge your hardscape. Your home will stand out as having a more crisp look than ones that don’t.
- Weed! Nobody really likes to weed that I know, but it makes your yard look so much better. Don’t be afraid to use a spray – just be sure to be accurate with your shots so you don’t kill the plants you like.
- Fertilize your plants and grass to keep them looking full and bright. Use a weed and feed fertilizer on the lawn to help your grass take over.
- If you can afford it, hire a full-service lawn care team.
Ever drive through a wealthy neighborhood? One of the ways you’ll find them improving curb appeal is to add exterior lights pointing up from the ground under windows and in landscaped beds. It gives the impression of a safe, comfortable home and makes the features really pop after the sun goes down.
There are some solar lights that can help you create the effect, but hardwired options will give you a brighter, more dramatic effect. It’s more expensive to do it that way, but the results are impressive.