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Selling

Cheap Curb Appeal Tricks That Offer the Best Home-Selling Returns

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    Painted wires and pipes

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    Modern garage design

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    front porch swing and seats for curb appeal (imagepointphoto)

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    Two white rocking chairs (Catherine Nguyen Photography)

Most savvy home sellers know that curb appeal is important to make a great first impression on potential home buyers as they pull up and park at, well, your curb. But if the prospect of painting your whole house or landscaping your yard seems too pricey, never fear: There are plenty of ways to create high-impact curb appeal on the cheap.

Check out these ideas that require little investment time but pay off big-time down the road.

Paint the ugly bits

Not up for painting the whole house? Then one budget-friendly alternative is to repaint just the trim, mailbox, and other small areas. You can also put your brush to better use by covering up unsightly things like the electrical box on the side of the house and any pipes and parts that are connected to it. Match the color to that of your house for a clean, streamlined look.

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Update your garage door

Improving this utilitarian spot is one of the easiest ways to give the exterior of your home a face-lift, advises Dan Grandon, president of Closet Factory Franchise Corp.

"First you should consider the purpose of the space. If you use the garage for work, go with a door that features large window inserts as this helps bring more natural light into the space," he notes.

However, if your garage is mostly used as a dumping ground, you might want to focus on a more energy-efficient design, like an insulated door. And it goes without saying, the garage should be pristine (many buyers will enter the house through this space).

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Create a sitting area

Carol Marcotte, a designer with Form & Function in Raleigh, NC, likes to set up an outdoor spot on the front porch to amplify the first-look attractiveness.

"Stage a place to sit that includes a pair of chairs with a couple of cute outdoor pillows," she suggests. This idea helps your home look friendly and lets potential buyers envision themselves on your front porch, sitting and waving to the neighbors. Save your pennies by putting out weather-safe indoor furniture you already own.

"If your outdoor porch doesn't have enough room to accommodate a lot of furniture, just a small bench can make a big difference," adds Anna Shiwlall, a designer with 27 Diamonds in Los Angeles.

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Trim the hedges

Of course you'll make sure your lawn is cut regularly, but don't forget about the bushes that surround the property. There's not much worse than blocking the view of the house with overgrown boxwood. Plus, there's the safety factor, says Marcotte.

"Burglars could hide in those bushes," she warns. Simple trimming and weeding can help beautify your yard and won't cost you a dime.

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Add small accessories

Small details can raise the wow factor without breaking the bank. For example, hang a colorful birdhouse or two in the prominent trees of your front yard. Or place a couple of cute garden statues or sculptures (a frog, turtle, or other animal) among the flower beds. An arbor or trellis from a garden store makes a nice focal point, especially when placed near the entrance to the backyard or patio.

Adding a statue is an easy garden upgrade. Just keep it classy.

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Hide the clutter

We're talking garbage cans, recycling containers, air conditioners, compost bins, and garden tools. A jumbled pile of hose needs corralling, so coil it and store it inside a large pot or basket. Prefab lattice can be joined together to create a smart-looking fence to hide cans, bins, and that big ol' AC unit. Not handy enough to make a box? Arrange a few strategically placed potted plants in front or plant a bush to help conceal these items.

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Make it sparkle

In addition to picking up the yard, you'll want to make sure the sidewalk and driveway look their very best, too. But rather than repaving, rent a power washer instead.

"You can do this fairly cheaply," says Marcotte. "You want to be sure the outside of your home is super clean, because it says 'well-maintained' to a potential buyer."