Believe it or not, helping your clients come up with curb appeal ideas is actually a very important part of your role. The size of your commission income could be at stake.
What Is Curb Appeal in Real Estate?
“Curb appeal” refers to the aesthetic attractiveness of a property as viewed from the street or curb. It’s a term often used in the real estate industry to describe how visually appealing a property appears from the outside to potential buyers.
It’s influenced by several factors, including the condition and style of the house itself as well as the landscaping, fencing, lighting, and outdoor living spaces. A property with good curb appeal is often more likely to attract potential buyers and may also command a higher selling price than a property with poor curb appeal.
According to a recent study from the University of Texas at Arlington, the value of curb appeal for real estate agents could be as high as 14 percent. To make this more concrete, let’s say you sold a home that looked a bit shabby for $350,000. By taking steps to have the curb appeal significantly improved, it may have had the potential to sell for as high as $399,000 instead.
Remember – you only get one shot at making a positive first impression. And it happens quickly. The buyers you’re working hard to attract will likely form their first impression of your listing within 50 milliseconds.
So improving a home’s perceived value may help you sell quicker and for higher prices. But you should also keep your reputation and brand image in mind. A photo collection of amazing-looking homes you’ve sold over the course of your career is a valuable marketing tool you can leverage to generate more real estate leads in the future.
No, improving a home’s curb appeal isn’t your responsibility. But counseling your client about its importance and offering valuable tips most certainly is. So here are some ideas and conversation-starters you can use to maximize your sales prices.
9 Cost-effective Curb Appeal Ideas
The number of ways a seller can improve their home’s curb appeal is virtually endless, ranging from a simple light bulb replacement to an extreme makeover that completely transforms a home’s architectural design.
Not all enhancements offer the same return on investment. Check out “Remodeling” magazine’s “cost vs. value” ranking system to compare each curb appeal project’s current cost recovery potential for your area.
So to clarify, this list we put together is composed of ideas you can pass on to your clients that are 1) likely to come with a significant ROI, and 2) won’t require a huge budget or any major overhauls. However, keep in mind that that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all “cheap” or “easy.”
While the conversation about the home’s condition can sometimes be uncomfortable, it’s necessary if your clients hope to get the most money possible for the home. Consider writing up your advice with a checklist to make it easier for everyone.
Here are some curb appeal ideas to get you started.
1. Take Care of the Basics
Not all curb appeal ideas are expensive and time-consuming. And yet, even minor improvements can make a major difference to a home’s overall aesthetic, which can in turn help it sell faster and for a higher price.
- Sweep. Not just the walkways but also the corners of the house where all the cobwebs are.
- Pull any weeds growing in the yard or in the cracks of the sidewalk and driveway.
- Clean windows, inside and out.
- Hide trash bins. Put them in the garage or on the side of the house.
- Pressure-wash the driveway, deck, porch, sidewalk, and paths.
- Replace light bulbs. And while you’re at it, consider upgrading any outdated or rundown outdoor light fixtures.
- Do minor paint touch-ups.
- Stage a nice seating area on the front porch.
2. Get a New Doormat
If throwing down a new welcome mat seems like a small thing, that’s because it is. This definitely belongs among the easiest and most affordable curb appeal ideas.
And yet, a new welcome mat can have a significant impact on the perceived value of your home because it adds a fresh and inviting touch to its entrance. Go with a clean, classic look or go with a more modern style (like this jute option, for example).
3. Get New House Numbers
They aren’t just numbers. They’re a part of the home itself.
It’s a good idea to upgrade your house numbers for two reasons. First, because they’re almost certainly cleaner than the old, worn-out ones. And second, because they can give the home a more contemporary, stylish look, complementing the overall aesthetic of the exterior.
Want some inspiration? Check out dozens of great ideas for how to display your house numbers.
4. Spruce Up the Fences
Run-down fences can make the whole property feel dated and neglected. Not only is it a good idea to fix any weak posts and replace any missing pickets, but it would also help to enhance the home’s curb appeal if the homeowner touched them up with a fresh coat of paint or stain.
5. Paint the Whole Exterior
If it’s a new coat of paint that will help the home stand out, don’t hesitate to suggest it. Sure, this may be a “big ticket item,” but like many other ideas on this list, it can yield a massive return.
And since choosing exterior paint colors for a house is so important, offer your client some tips, such as these…
- If the home is in a community that’s managed by an HOA or covenant, check to see if there are any color restrictions.
- Be mindful of the fact that some colors are more conducive to selling a home than others. For example, check out these options at BobVila.com.
- Consider the surroundings. It may be best to choose a color that harmonizes with the unpainted exterior features, such as the roof.
6. Paint the Front Door
The style and color of the front door is important because it’s a focal point. It draws the eye (and hopefully the heart!) right into the center of the home. So counsel your clients to either get a new one or make the current one pop, if it doesn’t already.
If they need some convincing, remind them that, according to “Remodeling,” installing a new front door (made of steel) is one of the best curb appeal ideas because it can produce the highest ROI.
7. Don’t Ignore the Garage Door
Garage doors are often a very prominent feature – they’re typically situated at the front of the house and they take up a large amount of the view potential buyers will see when they drive up to view the home.
The size alone is worth a quick suggestion to the homeowners that they consider repainting or, if necessary, replacing it altogether. (A replacement garage door, by the way, is the project with the highest ROI, according to the “Remodeling” study.)
8. Improve the Mailbox
It’s important not to overlook the mailbox, since it’s often right out front. For some, this may mean replacing and upgrading it completely. But there are other solutions.
You could redo the landscaping and plant flowers or shrubs around it, for example, or simply apply a fresh coat of paint to the base. Regardless, encourage the homeowners to do what they can to ensure the mailbox complements the home’s overall style.
9. Bring the Landscaping to Life
In some cases, it might be worth the cost of hiring out a professional landscaping company to rejuvenate or even redesign the front and backyards. But depending on the condition of the property, basic yard work may be all that’s needed. For example…
- Kill and pull weeds.
- Trim trees and remove dead branches.
- Shape bushes.
- Edge the perimeters.
- Spread fresh mulch in the beds.
- Maintain the lawn – keep it mowed and green it up by watering regularly.
- Hang baskets of fresh perennial flowers and plants.
- Display some planters and gardening pots on the porch.
To some of your clients, any curb appeal ideas that involve landscaping alterations may sound like a daunting chore. If that’s the case, remind them that even the smallest adjustments are noticeable and highly valuable.
How To Encourage Your Clients To Implement Your Curb Appeal Ideas
Since both you and your clients want the most money for the home that the market will bear, it falls on you to offer suggestions on what they can do to make the home more appealing to potential buyers.
Scenario #1: The Home Needs Some TLC, But They Don’t Realize It
In some situations, curb appeal can be an awkward topic for agents to bring up with their clients. For example, maybe they’re proud of their home’s exterior, when in reality it doesn’t meet the quality standards you’d prefer to see. Or maybe you simply don’t know how to start the conversation without hurting their feelings.
Here are two ways to break the ice.
A. Use the “Sandwich” Method
Start by telling them what you love about the home’s exterior. Then suggest some curb appeal ideas. And end by restating what you love or talking about something else that you feel is working well.
“The paint color you chose for your front door is fantastic! That’s really going to help the curb appeal. What would take it to the next level is if we power-washed the driveway, trimmed those bushes, and maybe switched out that light fixture. But hey, the color palette we’re working with here is excellent.”
B. Bring Up the Listing Photos as Your Segue
Real estate photography is extremely important. Ninety-five percent of home buyers use the internet to search for homes, and nearly nine in 10 buyers under the age of 57 rated listing photos as the most useful feature an agent could have on their website.
So start the conversation by talking about how important it is to get the best listing photos for marketing purposes. And then present a list of curb appeal ideas that are sure to make the home look as photogenic as possible. (You can even blame it on the photographer if you need to!)
“I’m excited about how your home’s going to look on camera! Virtually every buyer who’s going to see it will see a photo of it first. Those listing photos could impact how quickly we’re able to sell and for how much.
“Needless to say, it’s crucial that we get those exterior shots right. That said, here are some curb appeal ideas I came up with that will go a long way in attracting more buyers…”
Scenario #2: They Don’t Fully Appreciate the Value of Curb Appeal
NAR recently reported that nearly all REALTORS® (92%) “have suggested sellers improve their curb appeal.” But suggesting is very different from convincing.
How can you increase the chances that your clients will take your “suggestions” seriously and actually improve their home’s curb appeal? You need to craft a compelling message.
Before speaking with them, go through the MLS and save examples of sold homes lacking curb appeal and place them side-by-side with similar homes whose owners took the time to spiff up the exteriors. Providing a visual like that can be very compelling.
If needed, go a step farther by taking one or both of the following approaches.
A. Use Hard Facts
Avoid making it sound as if your curb appeal ideas are based on mere personal opinion or subjective preferences. Support your position with data.
“Believe it or not, curb appeal is actually very important. In fact, one study I came across [referencing the University of Texas study cited above] showed that it could improve the value of your home by between seven and 14 percent!
“And many upgrades and enhancements can yield a cost recovery of anywhere from 56 percent to 217 percent. In other words, almost whatever you do to improve your home’s curb appeal will not only be worth the cost, but it has the potential to increase your sales price dramatically.”
B. Provide Anecdotal Evidence
The price differential should sell them on the idea of paying attention to the home’s exterior. But if not, it’ll definitely help to provide anecdotes from your own real estate practice.
Share a story of a time when one of your past clients benefitted from improving the appearance of their home’s exterior. Or, even better, use your own data you’ve compiled over the years to prove the value.
“The average days on market for my clients who improve their home’s curb appeal is [x] days, and they sell for an average of [y] percent higher than those who don’t.”
Ready for the Next Step?
Nailing curb appeal is a crucial part of marketing the listing, but there’s more to be done if you want to attract as many buyers as possible and maximize the sales price.
Learn how to write the best real estate listing descriptions your potential buyers have ever read so they can envision it as their dream home, not just a beautiful house with great curb appeal.