House with nice curb appeal
The George L. Burlingame house, on the National Register of Historic Places, has undergone extensive renovations. Boosting your home's curb appeal, however, can be as simple as implementing a few budget-friendly changes to your property. Photo By: Ed Uthman via Flickr, CC BY 2.0
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7 Ideas to Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal on a Budget

When it comes to buying or selling a home, first impressions count. While major renovations or additions can affect your home’s value, you don’t need to add a new pool to improve your home’s desirability. In fact, improving your home’s curb appeal through relatively low-cost, but simple, changes, can significantly improve its standing in the market. For example, things like quality landscaping can help improve a home’s perceived value from 5 percent to 15 percent, according to studies from universities such as Virginia Tech and Clemson.

The Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) and Fox News Houston offer these suggestions for improved curb appeal:

Fresh paint: A gallon of paint costs somewhere in the vicinity of $25, but its real impact on your home’s perception can be much greater. Houston’s humidity can make paint peel and discolor more easily, so it’s important to stay on top of its condition. Make sure your home’s exterior is clean and freshly painted; if you can, choose a neutral color, which appeals to most people.

Updated numbers: Adding new, elegant numbering to your home’s address signage can create a flattering statement. Choose larger numbers in simple, unfettered designs for maximum appeal.

Keep it neat: The first glance at your home should reveal a neat, clutter-free exterior. Remove any standing objects, trash, or items in disrepair, and keep the exterior area as tidy as possible. Ditto for the exterior of your garage and/or driveway.

Front door and new numbers
A new door can help your home to looks newer.  Photo By: Cristiano Betta via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Try a new door: Though a new door is a costlier investment than, say, paint or house numbers, it can spruce up your home’s exterior, and even help your home look newer. At minimum, keep your existing door clean and in tip-top condition by replacing knobs, hinges and doorbells if they’re in disrepair.

Lighting: Good lighting can give your home’s exterior a cheap makeover and make night-time first impressions more positive. Try path-side lighting in your entryway, or selective lighting to accentuate particularly beautiful landscaping, such as blooming flowers. Be careful not to overdo it, however; excessive lighting can be garish and draw attention to any external flaws.

Landscaping matters: HAR says landscaping may be the single most important component of a home’s curb appeal. First things first: Plants in poor condition immediately detract from your home’s appearance, as do weeds. Commit to maintaining whatever landscaping you choose in prime condition. Rotate plants seasonally, if need be – fortunately for Houstonians, our mild winters and long growing seasons mean fewer seasonal changes are needed. Finally, if your budget allows, you might consider a professional landscaping service; the Virginia Tech study noted above shows continued improvements in home value for houses with more “sophisticated” landscaped exteriors.

Know your neighborhood: We don’t want to encourage you to worry about the proverbial Joneses, but knowing the context of your neighborhood is key to creating curb appeal. Create an exterior that complements the neighborhood and nearby houses. Encourage community involvement or participate in civic groups that promote a well-kept neighborhood. A tidy, pleasantly maintained street and adjacent properties also boosts your own home’s curb appeal.

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