How to increase curb appeal for less than $100

We’ve come to the end of “Blight Week“, so it seems fitting to finish this discussion with some very practical ideas for how to easily help a neighborhood look better. I asked seven trusted Sacramento real estate professionals for some tips on how to increase curb appeal for less than $100, and here is what they said:

Keith Klassen, Burmaster Real Estate Services: While pruning and planting is the stand-by and must do for curb appeal on the cheap, many times painting either the front door or just the trim on the home can make it stand out.  I know someone else who takes the window screens off the front of the home, which when left on gives the house “black eyes.”

Jacque McBurney, Dean Adams Residential Brokerage: Here are some suggestions for outside of the home under $100: Keep lawn mowed and trimmed. Spray down any spider webs and bird droppings. If you have spare paint – paint trim and/or entry door to make a cleaner appearance. Fix broken porch lights, address plates or mail boxes. Replace worn doormat and torn screens. Plant new flowers in front & put down new bark. Get rid of any debris or old boxes/garbage that may be in sight (less is more). If you show pride of ownership others will see it and that will make your home more desirable than any other home on the block. First impressions are the most important!

tamara-dorrisTamara Dorris, Realtor: I would say the best, cheapest way to give a house-front a facelift would be to get rid of all the garbage and debris, trim back shrubs, weeds, overgrowth, wash windows, (all pretty much free), and for your budget, paint trim and plant some bright flowers.

kellie-swayneKellie Swayne, Dunnigan Realtors: I’ve found that a LOT can be done for free by owners to increase their curb appeal.  The first and most important thing is to put a little sweat equity into the home and spend some time outside!  Mow the lawn, edge, weed the gardens, trim the trees and shrubs, clean the gutters, dust away the cobwebs, water blast any stains off of concrete, porches or siding, get the paint out of the garage and touch up any places that might need it, and CLEAN THE WINDOWS.  If trees are lacking, get in touch with SMUD and the Sacramento Tree Foundation who offer free shade trees! I’ve also noticed that sometimes homes that look a little plain in the front can be dressed up with some inexpensive shutters, if the space is right. I would also recommend putting a little bit of the $100 toward some fresh colorful flowers.  Or, if the landscaping is already colorful – think about adding some shredded bark or mulch of some kind.  You can even get free wood chips from PG&E (800-743-5000).

Dennis Lanni, Housing Group Fund: How about replacing broken & old single pane windows for free!  Sacramento is an amazing community with rich resources to spur community improvement. One of my favorite programs running right now is the Community Resource Project, which is a free program that promotes energy conservation by upgrading windows, door weather-stripping and much more.

LJ, Connect Realty: If your home is currently on the market, there are likely many competing sales nearby. This means your home has to sparkle in order to draw buyers. One great way to facilitate this is by pressure washing your driveway and the sidewalk in front of your home. This can drastically reduce unsightly oil stains and other discolorations. Fences can also be pressured washed, but beware because pressure washers release a very strong stream of water that may damage wood surfaces if you use the wrong tip or operate the spray nozzle too close to the surface. Pressure washers can often be rented for approximately $50-$60 per day at select Lowe’s and Home Depot stores.

Heather Ostrom, I know not everyone has the budget for big fixes or upgrades, so I think just sweeping up the driveway and sidewalk as well as picking up trash does wonders. Mowed and maintained lawns and hedged bushes and shrubs are also something that really has high-impact. If a car must be kept in the driveway or on the street, keep it web-free and clean. Paint your front door or mailbox if it’s looking dingy and worn because it can be a high-profile yard item.

Can we solve blight? There are no simple answers to end blight in a community because it is a complex issue, yet at the same time a focus on getting to know neighbors and taking care of some of the small signs of neighborhood decay is a relevant place to begin. It’s these “small things” that really add up to help make or break the image of a neighborhood and impact the ethos of the community too. Thank you everyone for reading along this week.

What do you think of the tips? Anything else you’d like to add?

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  1. says

    Great post with ideas and information from a lot of sources. I was wondering what kind of value ‘you as an Appraiser’ put on Curb Appeal? Is is just a feel or do you give actual value to homes that have cleaned up for the party?


    • says

      Thanks for checking in, Michael. I used “curb appeal” in the post title, but I would actually not use a phrase like that in an appraisal report because it starts to sound really subjective. I can’t quote a percentage, but the overall presentation of a house makes a difference in the market. I would not make little adjustments to say a certain feature is worth $200 and another feature adds $500, etc… The market is probably not that sensitive to really derive such an adjustment. However, cleanliness, well-manicured landscaping, fresh exterior paint and little details mentioned in the tips in this post really do add to the whole package because it helps a house compare to other similar houses that likely sold for more. This is where the property can earn some value. My guess is that if you had potential buyers walk through the house too, it would generate more buzz too. I’d be very curious to hear your take as a Realtor. Thanks, Michael.


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