A home's curb appeal is one of the most important factors when it comes to real estate. Think of it as window shopping. You're not going to buy a sweater in a shop's window if it is dirty, faded and has holes on it. Well, the same goes for a home's attractiveness from the exterior that is visible from the street. Whether you are selling your house to move to a new area, or looking to flip a recently purchased property for a profit, you can save money on increasing a home's curb appeal with these simple steps that should keep you within a $1,000 budget.
TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics- Introduction
Assess the Situation
When working on any home improvement project on a budget, you should always come up with a plan to help you stay within your means. For your curb appeal project, start by assessing the home's current appearance from the street. Stand directly across the street from the property and take note of any areas you find unappealing. Better yet, take a picture of it all. Next, walk a few houses down and assess the home's appearance from an angle, then do the same on the opposite side. If a portion of the side or backyard is visible from the street, you might need to perform some improvements for those areas as well. Take as many pictures as possible to help you with your planning.
Fix the Front Yard
Estimated Cost: $200 to $300
If you've decided that the front yard has room from improvement, start with the small stuff that will hardly cost you a thing. Make sure the lawn is mowed and any weeds are pulled. Prune any trees, shrubs or bushes that have grown to unsightly proportions, and don't hesitate to remove or uproot anything. Plant-life should help frame the home, not completely cover it. Removing excess shrubbery can breathe new life into an aged front yard.
The next stage of front yard work should be repairing any patchy areas. Check your lawn for bald spots or dead grass, and repair these areas with a bag of lawn patch. To replace any plant-life you've removed or to fill a slope or bald area of your yard, consider planting fast-growing groundcover like vinca minor.
Some mulch and garden bed edging can make your front yard look brand new. Look for discarded rocks, stones and cement blocks at rock quarries or construction sites for affordable edging. Another edging idea that is eco-friendly, but a little out of the ordinary, is to bury wine bottles into your soil, neck down. Bury the bottles as far as you can, exposing only a small portion of the bottle.
Refresh the Front of Your Home
Estimated Cost: $400 to $500
Now that your front yard is taken care of, you can move on to the actual house. A good place to start is your front door. Worn and weathered front doors are off-putting, but a newly painted front door can be a great focal point for the front of the home. Make sure to also polish the door fixtures, and even consider installing a new door knocker. Finally, hang a wreath around the door for a finishing touch. You can do all of this for under $50.
If your home features a front porch, think about adding potted containers that can be hung or placed around your frond steps. If you have any porch furniture, consider giving it a face lift with new fabrics and paint rather than replacing anything. The key to curb appeal is to make your home appealing to the eye. You can accomplish this by creating symmetry with potted plants, furniture and other items on your porch.
For the next part of your project, you'll need to rent a pressure washer. These can be rented from most major home improvement stores, and typically cost $50 to $75 for the day. You can use the pressure washer to clean the exterior of your home, which is a cheaper and quicker alternative to painting it. Pressure wash your garage doors, driveway and walkway to make everything look new. Just be sure to avoid windows because the water pressure can damage or break them.
If you still think a new paint job is necessary, even after the pressure wash, consider painting accents. The front door, columns, window sills and the garage door can all be matching colors and used as accents to enhance the curb appeal of the entire home. Take things a step further by adding matching shutters to your windows, or even a matching arbor and fence panel as long as you can afford it.
Estimated Cost: $100 to $200
With what is left of your $1,000 budget, you can finish your curb appeal project with minor improvements to refresh your home. Even the little things can make a difference, so be sure not to overlook anything you can upgrade or improve. Start by either repainting or replacing your mailbox. Then, replace your home's house numbers if they are worn or are barely visible from the street. Update any outdoor lighting fixtures by either replacing or repainting them if they are old and rusted. Finally, make sure to clean any cluttered areas, rake any fallen leaves, wash your windows and clear your gutters of debris.
The Bottom Line
Giving your home more curb appeal can be accomplished on a limited budget, which will allow you to spend resources for making upgrades and repairs elsewhere. All it takes is a little creativity and patience. Make sure you spend time examining your home from every angle to see what minor improvements you can make to enhance its appearance.