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Curb appeal for resale value: A guide to the basics

When it comes to pleasing potential homebuyers, what is inside your house can be just as important as what is outside. When a potential buyer steps out of their car and are impressed — or at least not disappointed — you’re setting them up to have a more powerful and positive experience when they tour the inside of your home.

That’s why curb appeal ranks as one of the top five selling points for homebuyers. Your home’s curb appeal, which is essentially the value of its exterior — from landscaping to walkways to outdoor living spaces — should strive to be engaging to the eye and exciting to the buyer. Focusing on curb appeal not only helps your home sell more quickly, but also boasts a higher price tag.

If either of these sound appealing to you, then try to avoid becoming one of the many homeowners who dismisses curb appeal when planning to go on the market. This guide will show you the three ways to boost curb appeal, along with ways they influence resale value, speed of sale, and buyer attraction.




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With well-planned landscaping, homeowners can see cost recoveries between 143 and 417 percent, according to a 2016 impact report from the National Association of Landscape Professionals and National Association of Realtors. To maximize your return on investment (ROI), you want to make sure that your yard has a few basic design elements in place, such as:

  • Walkways
  • Flowerbeds with high-quality mulch
  • One or more trees above 10 feet tall
  • Even, green lawn space
  • Flowering shrubs

Landscaping is about more than just planting flowers and shrubs; it is about creating an overall color and texture for your outdoor area. There are several ways you can accomplish this, but three of the most common are softscaping, hardscaping and xeriscaping.


Design your yard in an intentional way that makes it interesting for homebuyers year-round. Softscaping works best on yards that already have some basic design elements in place. An easy project to get you started includes:

  • Planting 2-3 trees
  • Adding a dozen or more shrubs
  • Putting in 50 perennials
  • Natural edging

Softscaping refers to the plant life in your yard — the literal “softer” elements of landscaping. For example, you can soften up a patio or deck by adding planters, surrounding the area with flowering shrubs, or planting flower beds with natural edging. You can even plant a tree that provides natural shade.

As a bonus, a handful of trees between your home and the noonday sun can save more than $200 each year in heating and cooling costs, according to the US Department of Energy.


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Most real estate agents agree that two of the top ways to boost your home’s resale value is to build a new wooden deck or a new patio. These are excellent examples of hardscaping. Other ways to hardware depth and dimension to your yard include adding:

  • Arbors
  • Retaining walls
  • Gazebos
  • Walkways
  • Rock walls

Like its counterpart, hardscaping refers to your yard’s brick and mortar outdoor elements. Different hardscaping projects can fit into different budgets. For the DIY homeowner looking to put his or her home on the market, laying a flagstone walkway to a front or back door, shed or garden area can draw the eye in and provide aesthetic appeal. For those looking to hire professionals, building a new composite deck, adding a pool, or raising a gazebo in a garden can cost homeowners anywhere from $5,000 – $10,000, but the value recovered is more than 100 percent.

Detailed and designed landscaping can not only add a wealth of texture and variety to your yard, but it can also add wealth to the price tag on your home.


A landscape that requires little water — whether because you live in a drought-prone or desert climate, or just prefer to conserve water — can still be as bold and brilliant as a lush green lawn. Xeriscaping can help you turn a chaotic rocky area into a beautiful boulder masterpiece. For portions of your yard that get less water, xeriscaping can help you design a colorful flower bed with plants that require less water, like:

  • California lilac
  • Purple sage
  • Blue hibiscus
  • Cape honeysuckle
  • A large variety of cacti and succulents

With the right kind of xeriscaping, you can attract eco-conscious buyers who want a beautiful yard that costs less to maintain in both time and money.

Outdoor Living Areas

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Your friends and family are not the only ones attracted to the idea of a warm autumn night outside by the firepit — future homebuyers will be, too. In recent years, the appeal of outdoor dining and entertaining areas has skyrocketed. From areas to play games like bocce or horseshoes, to dining tables with elegant lighting, you can enhance your home’s curb appeal by focusing on creative ways to take the indoors outside.

While fire pits are ideal for social gatherings, outdoor fireplaces promote intimacy and provide a soothing focal point for an outdoor living area. Spruce up your outside spaces with a variety of seating options, from benches to stools to couches. You can also add character to outdoor living areas with:

  • Awnings to protect from weather
  • Trellises leading to main outdoor areas
  • Ceiling fans and table top heaters
  • An outdoor grill and kitchen with courtyard dining

Keeping your outdoor living area clutter-free can be the difference between a good and a mediocre buyer impression. Outdoor areas tend to become the repository for things we don’t currently need or want, but think we will in the future. To avoid this, take the time to declutter and organize your space. Store items you frequently use in places with efficient and easy access, like in a garden shed or your garage. However, you may want to prevent larger items or ones you rarely use from becoming outdoor eyesores to potential buyers. In that case, renting a storage facility is an easy and effective way to keep your outdoor spaces clutter-free.

Keeping your outdoor spaces crisp and clean is a huge incentive for buyers, especially for people living in mild, year-round climates. However, to really nail down curb appeal, you must tie it all together with your home’s exterior.

House Exterior

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The exterior of your house is not only important for curb appeal, but also to maintain the structural integrity of your home. For example, your resale value can skyrocket with a new roof — increasing your price tag by a
national average of $12,000. Other types of exterior home improvement projects include:

  • Planning exterior paint color schemes
  • Adding accent elements like a swing, planters and modern house numbers
  • Installing a new front door, windows and shutters
  • Updating a garage door
  • Adding rock veneer around doors, windows, porches and other accent areas

The exterior of your house is the focal point of your curb appeal and helps your home stand out whether or not the market is saturated or sparse. For homeowners on a budget, pick one element to highlight — like window planters, walkways or a bold front door — and use it to really make the exterior pop.

Be mindful not to go overboard when implementing multiple landscaping projects simply to attract buyers. Some may see your yard as too much work to keep up with, and shy away from making an offer because they think it’s too much responsibility. You want to find a balance between simple and breathtaking — easy on the eye and easy to maintain. Focus on designs that last year-round, such as planting perennials instead of annuals, so that buyers know they have the option to redesign if they want, but it’s not a requirement on move-in day. And if you have a plethora of tools and materials for your curb appeal projects, consider keeping them in a storage facility to prevent them from making your yard, garage or outdoor storage area too cluttered.

Curb appeal is a very real aspect of selling a home. Television shows like “Fixer Upper,” “Divine Design,” and “Property Brothers,” have given even the most amateur designers some insider knowledge. Potential buyers will be more excited to look at the interior of your home if the outside doesn’t look neglected or unloved. That’s why it is so important — regardless of the ROI — to put at least some effort into your home’s curb appeal before you decide to sell.