Cheap Ways to Improve Curb Appeal on a Budget

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One of the last things you may think about when getting your home ready to sell is improving your curb appeal. But don’t leave it to the last minute. There are truly cheap ways to improve your home’s curb appeal. Having a home with good curb appeal is so important.

Why is it important? Because you don’t want potential buyers to drive by–and keep on going–if they don’t like what they see.

Curb appeal attracts potential buyers

Think of curb appeal like dating or a job interview. It’s your home’s first impression. You wouldn’t want to show up on a date or for a job interview looking your worst. You want to look your best. Because if you look professional or put together, a potential mate or employer may want to get to know you better.

It’s the same with your home. If your home looks great on the outside i.e. it has great curb appeal, then it’s more likely that people will want to stop and take a look inside. You know, make an appointment for a showing or show up for an open house.

Be critical of your home’s curb appeal

You know that commercial for Febreze spray that talks about how we become nose blind to smells in our homes? Well, owners often become blind to what the outside of their home really looks like to others. Again, curb appeal.

You need to step outside, and take a step back and really look critically at your home like a stranger would. Are the shrubs by the front door overgrown? Do you need fresh mulch in the garden beds? Does your front door look dingy?

In addition to looking critically at your curb appeal on foot, try it another way. Get in your car and do a drive by. Then have someone else do a drive by. This is a really cheap, nay, free way to evaluate your curb appeal and see what needs improving.

Try to be as critical as you can when driving by your own home. Ask friends and family that leave nearby to do the same. They may notice a spot on your roof that needs mending or that your mailbox is a tilt. These are all little fixes that can help give your home a good first impression to the people who may be interested in buying it.

Cheap ways to improve curb appeal on a budget

According to some real estate experts, there are some big- bang-for-the-buck reasons to improve your home’s curb appeal. In some instances you can increase what you can ask for your house and be able to recoup the cost in how much you sell your home for.

Some curb appeal improvements you can do yourself or are DIY. I promise they’ll be inexpensive to do.

improve curb appeal
This home is the epitome of good curb appeal.

Getting help with improving your curb appeal

Other curb appeal projects you may need to bring in help. For example, in two of our homes, they each had bow windows that needed fixing up. Actually, they needed to be fully replaced–one especially since it leaked water when it rained. So we turned to Home Advisor to find a company that could do window replacement on the cheap.

Here are tips on home improvements to do before selling your house.

In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, some exterior replacement projects that offer the greatest bang for the buck including adding a new entry door, replacing siding (or having the home painted if you don’t have vinyl siding), and replacing ugly windows.

But before you freak out and exclaim, “But I can’t afford to replace my windows and siding,” relax. Oftentimes improving curb appeal can mean just doing a few small projects that can have a large impact and don’t cost a lot of money.

List of cheap ways to improve curb appeal on a budget

Here are 15 suggestions on how to improve your home’s curb appeal without breaking the bank and even if you have a small budget. Keep in mind that these improvements and updates could possibly make your house sell faster and maybe for more money.

1. Improve your curb appeal by washing windows

We’re talking washing inside and out. This also includes wiping cobwebs from exterior and interior windowpanes and frames.

When we were working to improve our home’s curb appeal, we invested in this Windex exterior cleaner. You attach it to your garden hose and just spray the windows to clean them. It’s on sale affordably at your local hardware store or through Amazon. There are other versions of this Windex product, too, that use disposable cleaning pads.

Improve Curb Appeal: Wash Exterior Windows

These products can help get your exterior windows washing, which can improve your home's curb appeal

2. Improve your curb appeal by sprucing up foundation plantings

You want to evaluation all of your foundation plantings. That would be the plants and shrubs you’ve got in the ground around the four walls of your home. Trim back those that are overgrown. Pull out and replace those that have seen better days. Plant new annual flowers if you find bare spots that could use some color.

Colorful flowers are a huge asset for improving curb appeal.

A really frugal way to improve curb appeal is to divide existing annuals, such as lilies or hosta, and plant them in those bare spots. By using plants you already own to “seed” these foundation plantings, you are, essentially, improving your curb appeal for free.

3. Update the light fixture at the front door

Unless you’re a licenses electrician, I would hire this out professionally. You can buy a new light fixture at your favorite home improvement store. Then, head over to Home Advisor to put in a free request for someone to come out and install it.

4. Install a new mailbox

If your mailbox sits at the curb, it’s one of the first things people will see when they drive by. If your mailbox is mounted on your house or by your front door, it’s the first thing buyers will see when they arrive.

Either way, if it’s been a long time since you installed a new mailbox, now is a great time to do this really cheap curb appeal update.

First, you can have the whole thing replaced–post and all. You might even be able to find someone to install it on the cheap by posting the job on Task Rabbit. Use this link and the coupon code NEW10US to save $10 on your first Task Rabbit job.

Second, if the post is fine, you can just replace the mailbox itself. However, you may want to paint the post to clean it up.

Even just apply a fresh coat of paint to your mailbox post can help improve your home’s curb appeal.

5. Replace window treatments inside the house if necessary

While we think about window treatments as something important inside the house, they can reflect well (or poorly) from outside, too. So, once you’ve cleaned all the windows, people will be able to see your shades, curtains or blinds better.

Do they look sparkly and new from outside? If not, take them down for a good laundering (if that’s an option), or replace them all together.

6. Repair the front walk if it is cracked or heaved

You may be able to purchase a cement repair product at the hardware store. However, unless you know what you’re doing, a patch job might look worse than the original cracks.

So, log onto Home Advisor to get some quotes on repairing or replacing the walk. Worse case scenario, if the damaged front walk is right by the steps up to your home, you can try to hide it with a new exterior mat or rug.

This concrete pebble stone pathway is in perfect condition.

7. Remove dead tree and shrub branches

You can take care of these pruning tasks with a pair of hedge clippers. This assuming that the branches are in easy reach for you. If not, maybe a neighbor’s teen can help you get this job done for a couple of bucks.

8. Mow the lawn

Something so simple, right? Mowing the lawn.

If you’re putting your house on the market during warmer weather, you should be mowing your lawn regularly anyway. Unless it’s been really rainy, once a week should do the trick. Don’t forget to use your weed whacker or edging tool along sidewalks, pathways and garden beds. That way you’ll have a nice neat line after you mow.

9. Power wash your house

If you’re going to have your house painted, the company should do this as part of the pre-paint service. However, if you just want to clean your siding, see tip number 1 about using the Windex Outdoor Multisurface Cleaner, which attaches to a garden hose.

In addition to using it to clean my windows, it also did a great job cleaning up vinyl siding. And our house had white vinyl siding, which showed all the dirt. The Windex Outdoor Multisurface Cleaner made the siding look brand new.

10. Paint your front door

Want to really make an impression on potential buyers? Paint your front door a color that pops. For example, at that aforementioned house with white siding, we painted the front door red. Another house that had Federal blue siding? We painted the front door a bright white.

Think of your front door as one of the important first impressions for buyers.

While you’re at it, update the door hardware as well.

A freshly painted front door can make your home stand out to would-be buyers.

11. Clean and sweep the driveway

I’m not a big fan of the leaf blower, but it can help get your driveway looking swept and neat quickly. Or you can do it old school with a good broom.

I recently invested in this straw broom, which works great on rough surfaces outdoors, like a driveway. Also, it can sweep away a dusting of snow easily.

12. Shovel walks, steps and driveway

If you’re selling your home in the winter, make sure all the pathways to your home are cleared. Not only do you want your home to be accessible to anyone who wants to see it, but also think about this: an unshoveled walk or unplowed driveway looks like an unlived-in home. Empty. Uncared for. That’s not the impression you want to give potential buyers.

13. Store away all yard equipment, including children’s toys

You know what makes storing all of this easy? I nice new shed. Or if you’re just dealing with children’s play things, then a Rubbermaid deck box or something similar.

14. Find somewhere else to park any extra cars, boats, trailers, or RVs

While we’ve had neither boats nor trailers nor RVs, at one point we did have three cars–and no garage to park them in. So, what did we do for showings or when we listed the house? Started parking the cars on the street.

No reason to “clutter” the driveway with all of those vehicles. Seems like a silly curb appeal thing but trust me: this free option of moving your cars will make your driveway and yard show much neater.

15. Store garbage cans where they are not visible from the street

It’s amazing how much your curb appeal will take a hit just from people seeing trashcans. I mean, I know how convenient it is to store them outside for trash day. Plus, if you keep them outside, then you don’t have to worry about them stinking up your garage.

However, think about the optics. No one finds it attractive to see garbage cans, rubbish bins or whatever you call these trash receptacles.

So, while you’re showing your home, keep them out of site. You can store them behind your house, or if you have a fence, inside your fence. Another option: purchase a fence panel, install it on the side of your home, and stash the trash behind there.

Then, on trash collection day, make sure you take the cans back from the street soon after pickup. You don’t need them lying on their side in the street, on your lawn or in your driveway. Remember: you want your home and yard to look as nice as possible for anyone going by. Always think about curb appeal.

Final thoughts on how to improve your curb appeal

I realize that a list of 15 things to improve your curb appeal may feel really overwhelming. I get that–I really do. However, giving you this list of 15 tasks is a best-case scenario. If you can do only a few, you’ll still help your home stand out from the competition.

Additionally, run this list by your Realtor. Ask them which items are must do and which ones you can get away without doing. Have them help you prioritize tasks so you don’t feel so overwhelmed.

I’m telling you–just doing a few tweaks to your curb appeal is going to help. It could make your house sell faster and for more money. Not improving your curb appeal? Well, who knows what the outcome might be.

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