Updated July 27, 2023
First impressions are everything. It takes maybe three seconds for someone to form an opinion on a house. If the house is up for sale, this opinion is even more important as it could make or break a sale. To ensure a home gives off the best first impression, it is important to focus on its curb appeal.
What Is Curb Appeal?
Curb appeal is the visual attractiveness of a house as viewed from the street or curb. A home with a lot of curb appeal will look polished and well maintained, but a home lacking curb appeal may look dirty and unkempt.
While curb appeal is technically specific to the front of the home that is visible from the curb, many people use this term to refer to the look of the entire property’s exterior. In this digital age, curb appeal has also grown to sometimes include how a listing looks online.
Why is Curb Appeal Important?
Curb appeal is so important because the first thing buyers see of a home is often the outside. As a result, curb appeal will impact their initial impression and can sometimes even make or break a deal. If curb appeal is lacking, then potential buyers often won’t take the next step. After all, the aesthetic look of a home’s exterior can be very telling of what someone can expect to find on the other side of the front door. At the very least, the exterior could determine whether or not buyers even want to take a look inside.
Boosting curb appeal will typically attract a broader set of buyers so the home will sell faster. In many cases, home curb appeal can also impact a house’s value. One report suggests that curb appeal accounts for 7% of a home’s sale price.1 According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2022 Cost vs. Value report, exterior updates also made up nine of the top ten home improvement projects with the highest percentage of cost recouped.2 For this reason, making exterior home updates before selling could increase the value and sales prices of a home.
With 97% of buyers using online tools to search for homes,3 many first impressions are formed online instead of in person. Because of this approach, curb appeal is no longer just tied to a home’s exterior. To get buyers offline and through the door, homeowners and agents need to ensure the home also has good digital curb appeal. Otherwise, buyers will click away, and the listing will sit on the market.
How to Improve Curb Appeal
If a house doesn’t look great on the outside, a lot of buyers will walk—or scroll—right on by to the next house. Lackluster curb appeal doesn’t have to be a death sentence for a home sale though. These curb appeal ideas and tips can help boost a home’s appearance as well as help it sell for more.
1. Make Repairs
Today’s buyers want move-in ready homes and will avoid listings that need repairs. Before you take any other steps to increase curb appeal, take a look at your gutters, windows, steps, doorways, and roof for any red flags. Anything that needs to be repaired should be fixed first or buyers will run for the hills.
2. Landscaping is a Must
Improving the curb appeal of a house should involve some landscaping, especially to the areas that are visible from the street. Basic maintenance like trimming shrubs, cutting the grass, and raking leaves are a must and can have a high return on investment. In some cases, it makes sense to add landscaping elements to create a more cohesive look and improve curb appeal. Some curb appeal landscaping ideas include adding perennials, planting a tree, or updating yard lighting.
The important thing to remember is that while today’s buyers want outdoor spaces, they also want those spaces to be low maintenance. Too many plants and other elements that require a lot of upkeep can turn buyers off. For example, gardens can increase property value or decrease it depending on the maintenance requirements. Focus on landscaping that will add curb appeal and increase home value.
3. Don’t Ignore Driveways & Walkways
Another curb appeal tip is to pay attention to driveways and walkways. They literally lead people inside the home and are the first up-close look buyers get at the property. The condition of these areas can speak volumes about the state of the rest of the home and how well it is maintained. Clear the driveways and pathways of weeds, and power wash them if necessary. A dirty walkway that is overrun by weeds can have buyers second-guessing looking at the rest of the home.
4. Update the Doors
A simple and often cheap curb appeal idea is to update the front or garage doors. Front doors are naturally a focal point, so they stand to improve the curb appeal of any home. You can swap out the front door entirely or simply repaint it with a vibrant color to grab buyers’ attention.
Garage doors can be another prime focus of the front of a home. Whether repainting or replacing it, a garage door update is a good way to boost curb appeal and draw buyers in.
5. Pay Attention to the Siding
A clean car with a nice shine is much easier to sell than a dirty one. The same can be said when selling a house. While siding isn’t something people always notice, terribly outdated or worn siding can scream “Buyers, beware.” If the siding is in good condition, simply power washing it may do. A fresh coat of paint can make a dreary and older home look brand new. If the siding has seen better days, consider updating it. While replacing it can be pricey, it’s an improvement that typically pays off.
6. Fix or Replace the Roof
Another way to update curb appeal is to get the roof in order. If the roof is leaking, sagging, or significantly damaged, replacing it may be a must. While expensive, replacing a roof will typically increase the sales price the home. If this work is not in the budget or the roof is in relatively good condition, focus on making necessary repairs instead.
7. Think About the Big Picture
As we mentioned earlier, curb appeal has come to include a lot more than a house’s appearance from the curb. If you want to improve curb appeal to sell a house, you need to focus on these other aspects.
While not the first thing buyers see, the backyard is also part of a house’s curb appeal and an increasingly important area of any home. It is somewhere to spend time with loved ones, entertain, and relax, so make the backyard just as inviting as the front of the home. One of the best ways to do this is to create outdoor living spaces with updates or staging.
Don’t forget about the home’s online appearance. The preview photo should make the property stand out. While many people will choose a shot of the front of the house, it doesn’t mean you have to. Get professional photography done and choose the best one to grab buyers’ attention and get them through the door.
Curb appeal isn’t just a buzzword. From big repairs to basic cleaning, these curb appeal ideas can help significantly increase a home’s value and sales price.
While it’s important to tend to a home’s exterior, buyers don’t make decisions on the outside of a home alone, so don’t stop there. To maximize the profit from a home sale, clean up, repair, and make improvements that will add value both inside and out. At Curbio, we help homeowners make these pre-sale updates without having to pay anything until closing. As a result, home improvement projects are more accessible, and homeowners can sell their homes faster and for more money. Agents can also rest easy knowing they are working with the REALTOR®’s number one pay-at-closing general contractor.
Get started for free with a home improvement estimate.
- The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economic (2020). Valuing Curb Appeal
- remodeling by JLC (2022). 2022 Cost vs Value Report
- National Association of Realtors (2022). 2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers