Living in the same house day after day, your eyes will just glide over the things that a home buyer will zoom in on right away: the peeling paint around the front door, or the sagging gutters. But if you want to impress those buyers—or the friends and family you’ll be welcoming to your home soon—you should take some time to spruce up your home’s exterior. It doesn’t take much!
Homes with high curb appeal tend to sell for an average of 7% more than similar homes with less-than-stellar exteriors, according to a joint study by the University of Alabama and the University of Texas at Arlington. That goes double for homes in slower markets, providing a 14% boost in regions with plentiful housing inventory.
If you’re ready to take on a project that will upgrade your home’s exterior, look no further than our list below. Simply assess your schedule, and choose the project that’s right for you.
If you have 5 minutes
Five minutes isn’t a lot, but it’s enough time to improve your home’s current appearance.
Doormats are an inexpensive and fun way to showcase your style, celebrate the season, and add a pop of design or color to your home.
“A decorative doormat, or even a rug, is a great way to welcome people, and there are a lot of modern, affordable doormat designs to choose from,” says Jeannelle Ditto, an interior designer and founder of Blush Interior Designs in Southern California. She recommends Society6.com as a source for mats and rugs designed by independent artists, but there is a wide variety of options at independent retailers and big-box stores.
When people approach your home, the front porch is right in front of their faces. So you want to make sure it’s tidy, at least. There are several fast and easy ways to make it look much better.
“Sweep the floor, shake out the doormat, check the entire space for cobwebs or other signs of insect or animal activity,” says Anne Laurenzi, the co-owner of TakeFlight Home Buyers in Pensacola, FL. “Then wipe the door, its trim, and any lights down with a wet rag to remove dust and pollen.”
If you have 30 minutes
Another great option is to update your house numbers.
“It’s amazing what a difference new house numbers can make,” says Melanie Giacomo, a real estate agent for Intero Real Estate in San Jose, CA. “It adds a fresh, modern look and allows you to express your design style. It’s also cost-effective and fast.”
Cost: $5-plus per number
If you have 1 hour
An hour gives you just enough time to do some serious cleaning or design overhauling.
Laurenzi recommends an annual driveway and/or walkway power wash to everyone, whether you’re trying to sell your home or not.
“Power-washing the driveway, walkway, and brickwork can take years off your house in about an hour,” she says. “It’s also actually a lot of fun to do. You can purchase your own power washer or rent it.”
Cost: $160-plus to buy a power washer, $35-plus per hour to rent
An hour is also enough time to replace rusted hardware or shoddy exterior lighting, says Suzi Dailey, a real estate agent with Realty ONE in Laguna Beach, CA. But don’t go crazy.
“Really expensive exterior lights aren’t worth it,” she says. “Solar gives you the best bang for your buck, and there are a lot of attractive options in a range of styles out there.”
Cost: $20-plus for hardware replacement; $100-plus for solar lighting
If you have 3 hours
With an afternoon’s worth of time, power washing can also help you renew the siding of your house.
“Painting siding is extremely expensive and time-consuming, and it’s often not necessary,” says Adam Graham, a construction industry analyst at Fixr in Philadelphia. Skip the new coats of paint, and try clearing dirt, mold, and mildew buildup from your house’s siding.
Cost: $160-plus to buy a power washer; $35-plus per hour to rent (For best results, you may want to hire someone to power-wash your home, which will run $300 to $600.)
Now let’s look at something that often falls off the to-do list. When’s the last time you gave your gutters a good cleaning?
“Gutters should be cleaned at least twice a year, and often they’re not,” says Jeff Beck, CEO of Leaf Home Solutions in Strongsville, OH. “If they’re not taken care of, your roof (and even your foundation) can be damaged. If you get heavy rains and your gutters are not maintained, they’ll overflow, and your home may see mold and mildew growth.”
Cost: Free if you do it yourself; $100-plus for professional cleaning
If you have a weekend
With a full weekend, you’ll have enough time to tackle several of the projects above, and one or more of the projects below, especially if your family members pitch in.
“One of the most effective ways to improve your exterior is by painting your front door,” says Ray Brosnan, managing director of corporate solutions at Brosnan Property Solutions in Castlemartyr, Ireland. “Choose a new shade or color that is on-trend, and while you’re there, paint the trim around the door and porch rails, too.”
If your door is looking a little bedraggled or you’re just ready for change, consider installing a new door entirely.
Cost: $13-plus per gallon of paint; $200-plus for new a front door
Summer is near and we’ll all be spending a lot more time outside, so now’s the time to consider putting in a patio.
“Outdoor spaces are becoming the preferred way to spend time with family or entertain, especially given last year’s events,” says Graham. “Patios are a hot trend, and they add livable space and value to your home, which is great when it’s time to resell.”
Cost: $2,000 to $8,000 for a 12-by-18-foot patio with pavers in an intricate design, according to Fixr