Come home to happy. How curb appeal can improve your mood (and add value)

Can a purple door get you out of a work day funk? Will expertly trimmed boxwood hedges increase starting bids on your home? The short answer to both questions? Yes!

There are many reasons to improve the front of your house, also known as its curb appeal. Among the most important — it has the potential to make you feel good every time you see it (like an adorable puppy, without the potty training requirements).

And while your emotional well-being is super important, it’s not the only reason to roll up your sleeves and help your home make a better first impression. We talked to someone who knows this kind of stuff — HIP-qualified real estate agent Chris Barnes with Dickson Realty — to learn more about the true value of curb appeal.

Chris says adding curb appeal makes it easier to sell your home, and can also increase its value. “Curb appeal may be the make or break between just showing your home and getting an offer,” he says. “It could also help you retain a higher price with less haggling on other contract terms if the buyer has an emotional connection with your property.”

The actual increase in value varies by home (and improvements) of course, but Chris says two percent is a good rule of thumb. “So, for a $300,000 home, we’re looking at gaining an extra $6,000 for just doing a bit of work.”

The good news is that improving how your home looks from the street can not only provide that daily face lick and tail wiggle (metaphorically speaking), it can also increase your home’s financial value. Even more good news? It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to do it.

But where to start? It’s super-duper easy. Grab a notepad and take a walk around the block to see what your neighbors are doing. Notice the specific elements that make their homes look more, or less, appealing and write them down. Then look at your home with fresh eyes (or just close them hard and blink four times) to see what pops out at you.

Here are some simple, inexpensive things you can do this very weekend (binge watching Property Brothers can wait).

  1. Trim back old/overgrown bushes and trees that are hiding your home.
  2. Pull out the dead (or dying) foliage. Does it make sense to replace it? You might consider just leaving the open space.  
  3. Get rid of the weeds. Once they’re gone, spray to prevent new growth. A combination of vinegar, salt and dish soap is cheap and better for your yard, and the environment, than store-bought chemicals.
  4. Paint your front door. If you’re not confident in your color selection skills, you might consider “hiring” an artistic friend to help you choose (and potentially paint). If your community has CCRs, be sure to check them first to be sure which colors are allowed.
  5. Rent (or borrow) a power washer and spray the front of your house, windows, doors, etc.
  6. Plant flowers. Or buy premade color baskets and place them strategically about. Just make sure you water them regularly so you’re not wasting your money.
  7. Make sure your house number is legible from the street. Consider having the numbers painted on the curb.
  8. Replace broken blinds or screens.
  9. Update existing lighting fixtures with inexpensive LEDs and install additional lighting around walkways and near focus areas of landscaping. Pro Tip: Pick up a set of solar pathway lights and sprinkle them about in your planters and tree areas. There’s no law that says they have to follow a path! 
  10. Share some love with your lawn. Keeping a beautiful lawn is not simply about watering and cutting. You’ll also want to look at thatching, aerating, fertilizing, weeding, edging, raking, and whatever else your lawn is calling for. Consider it your spring and summer cardio. While this improves the look of your front yard, a beautiful lawn also sets expectations for the rest of the home. And it could be what makes it rise above others on the market. 

If you want to spend a little more:

  1. Re-sod a patchy lawn. Or consider pulling it up and replacing it with xeriscaping. Beautiful and drought-friendly!
  2. Put down clean DG (decomposed granite) rock in the areas where there’s old tree bark. DG should be laid at least a few inches deep to prevent weed growth. Be sure to rake it regularly to keep it looking fresh.
  3. Add paving stones if there isn’t a sidewalk.
  4. Re-paint the trim and eaves of your home.
  5. Consider installing faux shutters around your windows.
  6. Paint old brick.
  7. Add a decorative mailbox to add visual interest and compliment your home. Consider planting flowers or ornamental grasses around its base.
  8. Build a deck or patio if you don’t have one. Yes, it’s a little spendy, but it has an ROI of 30 to 60 percent according to supermoney.com. And you get to enjoy a new patio!

One other thing to think about:

  • The roof is one of the first things appraisers and buyers consider. Roof replacement is expensive, and you may not get the value back in the sale, but it could be a requirement. At the very least, make sure it’s clean (a good use for that power washer). And don’t forget to clean out your gutters.

Chris says that improving your home also improves your street, and the community in general. “There’s an intrinsic value to curb appeal that’s hard to put a number on. But it can play a huge factor in your overall mood,” he says. “When you can love your home again, how much is that worth?”

We at the Nevada Housing Division think loving your house is worth a lot and we’re here to help all Nevadans achieve that great feeling. If you’d like to reach homeownership love but you’re hitting a barrier due to down payment and closing costs, check out our Home Is Possible family of programs. We might be able to help get you there.

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