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Selling

What Is Curb Appeal? How to Supercharge the First Impression Buyers Have of Your Home

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What is curb appeal? (James Brey)

Curb appeal is the all-important practice of improving how your home looks to buyers right as they pull up and park -- or even as they drive by (slowly, one hopes). That includes your front yard, driveway, and your home's exterior, from its paint job to the potted plants on your patio to even the welcome mat that greets people as they pass through your front door.

Curb appeal is both an art and a science. And since it's a buyer's first impression of your home, it can be absolutely essential in selling your home.

It's one area where every bit of work you do can pay off. For real! Renovation expert Bob Villa estimates that this first impression could add 20% to your home's value (a figure that rivals, or sometimes surpasses, the return on a new kitchen or bath).

How to supercharge your home's curb appeal

Adding curb appeal doesn't have to cost an outrageous amount of money. You'd be surprised by how inexpensive "prettifying" your home's front exterior can be, if you're willing to do a little work yourself. Or maybe a lot of work! (Hey, you want to sell the place, right?)

Here are some of our favorite suggestions:

Strategic landscaping: One of the most important aspects of curb appeal is getting the grounds to look as good as they possibly can. Alex X. Niemiera, a horticulturist at Virginia Tech, found that well-landscaped homes had a sales price advantage ranging from 5.5% to 12.7%. That could mean an extra $16,500 to $38,100 in value on a $300,000 home.

Clean everything: Washing the windows is a given, but before you do that, think about giving your house a good power wash to remove the dirt, grime, and moss that may have accumulated over the years. This could save you the expense of repainting your entire home.

Go for the touch-ups: Once your house is shiny and clean, you may find that the entire house doesn't need repainting -- just the trim and the front door. While you're at it, consider brightening the facade with a touch of contrasting color. You'll be surprised by how a little pop of color can really freshen up the place.

Consider the mailbox: If your mailbox is on the street, there's a good chance it's been a bit beaten up. In fact, it could look like it was used to house a pipe bomb, and you've just stopped paying attention. If it's affixed to your house, you've probably forgotten about it, aesthetically speaking. Paint it, polish it, or replace it. You'll be glad you did.

Repair and/or clean off the roof: If some of the shingles have come loose or there's visible damage to your roof, you absolutely must fix that. Hire a roof specialist to see just how much work is needed, then get it done. If your roof is relatively new and in good shape, at least clean off any pine needles, leaves, spare pickleballs, or other detritus that might have accumulated there. Buyers are justifiably picky about the condition of the roof, especially when it comes to pickleballs.

Tame the foliage: This involves not only cutting the grass, but also clearing out any dead limbs, plants, and other unwanted foliage that might be hanging around. In addition, get rid of any tree branches or bushes that may make your yard look crowded and dark, and trim all hedges so that they look neat. Finally, plant some colorful flowers -- best to do it a couple of weeks before the house goes on the market, so they've had the chance to grow in a bit and don't look too contrived.

Check the light fixtures: A small investment in a new front porch light can work wonders, but you'll also want to pay attention to the condition of any other light fixtures in front, like those that may be on either side of the the garage, or the street light in your front yard. Yes, potential buyers will probably make their first visit during the day, but attractive light fixtures can really add to the appeal of a home even if the lights aren't on.

And when the lights are on? You may have just nailed the deal.